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The Thief Lord

There are many stories about children who don't want to grow up, famous stories like 'Peter Pan' or 'Pippi Longstocking'. But is there one about children who want nothing more but to grow up? Children who can't wait to be allowed to do all the things only adults can do?

Cornelia was such a child. She desperately wanted to be an adult (and still finds it quite exciting today). So one day she had the idea of writing a story about a boy who has the same dream and who even pretends to be an adult.

Where I got this idea? In Venice, of course. Where else? And so the story is set in this wonderful and mysterious town. Venice is an enchanted place, but it is also very real. It's nothing like Hogwarts or Middle Earth, because you too can travel to Venice. You can touch it, smell it, and taste it. I wanted children to know that such a place really exists in this world and that the real world can be just as enchanting as our beloved fantasy worlds.

Cornelia often gets letters from children who have travelled to Venice and who have taken the story of Scipio, Bo, Prosper, Hornet, Mosca, and Riccio with them. They write: 'Cornelia, Venice is exactly like you described it. I just couldn't find the roundabout! And where is that cinema? But if you found that magic merry-go-round, would you take a ride on it?'

Yes, The Thief Lord is about a magic merry-go-round. It is about a gang of homeless children who live their lives without adults. Their home is a deserted cinema in the heart of Venice. It is also about their leader, Scipio, who calls himself The Thief Lord. And it is about two brothers who, after their mother's death, have run away from Hamburg to escape their horrible aunt and uncle. Esther and Max Hartlieb want to adopt sweet little Bo and send Prosper to a boarding school. And so the story ends up also being about Victor, a private detective, who is hired by the Hartliebs to find the boys. And about Victor's tortoises, the mysterious Conte, a wooden lion's wing, a crook who dyes his beard red – and it is about a forbidden island.

Well, see for youself. Follow Prosper, Hornet and Bo into the star palace – if you can remember the password, that is!

Book

Age 9 + • Published 2002 • 352 pages • Chicken House Scholastic • Cover illustration by Christian Birmingham, inside illustrations by Cornelia Funke

Extract

Audiobook

Read by Simon Jones • Unabridged Compact Disc • Published by Random House

Audio Sample