Here’s a little secret – I love a good heist story. Art, jewels, artifacts, being launched into a world of daring, intrigue, and glorious fiction – I love it all. Just as its title would suggest, the middle grade novel Loot: How to Steal A Fortune by Jude Watson (Scholastic Press, 2014) falls solidly in this category and stands up to the challenge! For the 4-7th grade reader who enjoyed the 39 Clues (Scholastic Press, 2008) series, Loot will not disappoint. (In fact, Jude Watson is one of the authors of 39 Clues series).
Twelve-year-old March leads an unusual life. Unlike most kids his age, he does not go to school, hang out with his friends nor participate in clubs or sports teams. Instead, he has grown up learning the craft of his father — a world renowned jewel thief. The jewel thief’s jewel thief. Traveling the world together, March has learned all the tricks of the trade which are about to be put to the ultimate test.
As the story opens, March watches his dad’s last heist go terribly wrong. Soon March is bent over his dad, pocket heavy with stolen treasure, and hearing his father’s last words: FIND JEWELS. As March dodges police and an assassin, he sets off on an epic adventure. Along the way he discovers that “FIND JEWELS” was not instructions for a last heist, but rather “Find Jules” the name of his long lost twin sister! That is just the tip of the bejeweled iceberg. Orphanages, con-men, betrayal, corrupt cops and cursed jewels are just a few of the things that stand in the way of March and Jules disappearing into a life of luxury
What makes this story awesome? It is filled with not one but seven clever capers all pulled off by sassy smart kids. Like in 39 Clues, this brother-sister combo need each other to survive in this lonely world of thievery and make some fabulous friends along the way. But, unlike 39 Clues, their relationships are complex. I also appreciate that there is no sappy romance which would have diluted this story. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune is just pure adventure with crazy twists and turns along the road.
For the middle grade reader looking for some high style adventure, this is a great book! From the moment you open it until the moment you close, you are on one wild ride! For similar heist-stories try these:
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells
Swindle by Gordon Korman
The Heist Society by Ally Carter
Mollie is a Youth Service Library Assistant. While she loves a good heist story, she knows she would never stand up to the pressure. If you have suggestions for future heist stories please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.