I Am a Thief!

NorthSouth Bks. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735842892.
PreS-Gr 2–Even the nicest of kids can be tempted to steal, and yet, as Eliza finds out after swiping her class’s emerald stone, guilt is an equally powerful motivator. Even though no one notices her take it, her conscience needles her into asking her family whether they’ve stolen anything. After listening to each response, she comes to understand that even decent people commit minor acts of larceny; they are not rotten thieves, only human. The thing that counts most is how one responds afterward. Being an honest child, Eliza decides to admit to the act. While Rayner’s extremely relatable narrative asserts that stealing is normally wrong, the tone does not condemn those who do so. In Eliza’s mind, this is the case at first, but between the stellar writing and Ruttan’s comical illustrations, there is underlying assurance that all will be well. A green tint pervades the pages to match the themes, and identified persons get added to a sepia “Wanted” poster, wearing the stereotypical thief’s garb. Overall, because the creators focus on emotional reasons and responses, rather than logical ones, this book will resonate with kids who have taken something that is not theirs, and, because it provides an avenue for dialogue, it may convince them to think twice.
VERDICT For its honest and fair portrayal of everyday acts of theft, the creators have provided an invaluable resource for educators and parents who are attempting to steer kids in the right direction.

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