Museum of Thieves, Lian Tanner
Here is another great little book for tweens and young teens that I feel comfortable recommending to my 11 ½ year old granddaughter. I am always on the lookout for books that are neither too violent nor too risque.
This is an exciting tale which takes place in the city of Jewel. The people of Jewel have tried to create a utopian society in which no evil exists. There is no disease and no crime but also no information about the rest of the world. Everyone expects to be taken care of and no one knows what to do when they have to think for themselves. The few who might entertain new ideas are afraid to speak of them because they are always being watched, by the Blessed Guardians, in order to prevent free expression which could create resentment. The punishment for thinking outside the box is very severe. Those in charge provide for all their needs and the citizens, therefore, look to them to solve their problems. The fly in the ointment is that there is also very little freedom and absolutely no creative thought or free will. Everything is controlled and regulated. In order to protect them, the children are literally chained to their parents until age 16, (until the law is changed to age 12 by the more lenient Protector, but then rescinded at the separation ceremony because of an unusual event).
When Golden Roth escapes from the canceled separation ceremony, pandemonium is unleashed upon the city. She finds her way to the Museum of Dunt where she meets Toadspit, another runaway, and the museum caretakers who take her in and protect her. The museum is a world unto itself. It changes and shifts, it grows and shrinks in size, the rooms move from place to place, the scenery changes. There are frightening creatures and magical staircases. There is a world out there that she never knew existed. Goldie is very brave and finds herself in some frightening situations which test her courage once the adventures begin.
The book is about friendship and relationships, family ties and responsibility. It has no romance or sex but it has some violence. It is not beyond the pale as it is in some recent books like the popular Hunger Games and almost feels justified, if one can justify violence. It has a similar theme in that children are really the main focus of this book and the center of the community. The children are the heroes and heroines. Violence is only against those doing evil and those doing good are the victors.
One of the valuable themes of the book is to think before you act. It discourages being impetuous which often leads to unnecessary consequences. Goldie is taught to think carefully about all of her actions so as not to create problems that could be avoided. She is taught to believe in herself and her ability to succeed. Sometimes you have to bend the rules for the greater good, but most of the time, you must be obedient and careful about how you behave because your actions affect others. When you make a decision, you want to be sure it is the one you want and the best one for the moment. It teaches responsibility.
This is the first in what will surely be a wonderful series. Can Goldie and Toadspit rise to the occasion and be brave enough to save the citizens of Jewel who need their help? You should read it and find out.