The Thief's Apprentice

272p. (Master Diplexito and Mr. Scant). ebook available. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781512405798.
Gr 4–6—Oliver Diplexito leads a rather boring life in his large English home filled with servants. However, the moment he discovers a member of the household staff, Mr. Scant, is not quite as dull as he once seemed, Oliver's life suddenly turns upside down. Throughout London's museums, valuable treasures are being stolen, and Scotland Yard can't catch the thief, who is known as the Ruminating Claw (his nickname originates from the large, blade-fingered claw he wears on one hand as he makes off with masterpieces…that he eventually returns). The Ruminating Claw's identity and purpose is a mystery to all, but Oliver soon uncovers part of the truth when he learns the thief is Mr. Scant. Oliver is unsure about what to do with this news, but his confusion is compounded when Mr. Scant urges him to meet late one night. Together, they break into the National Portrait Gallery to return a missing painting. Adventures around London continue for Oliver and Mr. Scant throughout the story. Rich vocabulary, Briticisms, and a complex plot make this selection most suitable for advanced young readers.
VERDICT Reminiscent of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer and Laura Marx Fitzgerald's Under the Egg, this is a unique spin on the heist novel that will appeal to sophisticated middle graders.

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