The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Description on Goodreads:
Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious character who calls himself the "Thief Lord." Brilliant and charismatic, the Thief Lord leads a ring of street children who dabble in petty crimes. Prosper and Bo relish being part of this colorful new family. But the Thief Lord has secrets of his own. And soon the boys are thrust into circumstances that will lead them, and readers, to a fantastic, spellbinding conclusion.
This was one I read aloud to my kids at bedtime. A two to three chapters and night and several weeks long, we finally finished. And while it's definitely not the best Cornelia Funke book I've read there were parts I really enjoyed.
This book started out really slow for me. It seemed like it didn't really take off until halfway through. So I struggled a bit. And then I just felt a little let down, like it just didn't have enough 'oomph' for me. The characters were okay and everything worked out fine and I liked the idea of it all, I just wanted a bit more.
This was a hard one to read aloud because of all the Italian. I mean, just the places in the book are Italian places and I have no idea how to pronounce those things out loud. Apparently it's much easier in my head. I also felt like I tripped over words a lot so the flow wasn't as smooth. Now I maybe wouldn't point it out so much but the next book I read showed me this even more.
Overall it was a decent read. I enjoyed it, I just didn't love it. I think this is one I would have enjoyed more if I'd read it to myself, rather than spreading it out so long and reading it aloud to my kids.
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Description from Goodreads:
In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary come true.
What if? Why not? Could it be?
When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.
Now this, this is the ideal read aloud book. I felt like the words flowed off my tongue like honey. I could have read all night because the beauty of every single word took my breath away. There has never, ever been a book that I enjoyed reading out loud as much as this one. It was simply beautiful.
I read this book in only a matter of days to my kids each night at bed time. Once I started reading I loathed the idea of setting it down and waiting an entire day to pick it up. I didn't want it to ever end.
Now I've spoke about the beauty in the words and such but what about the actual story? Well, to be honest I'm not sure I would have liked it as much if I hadn't been reading it out loud. The story is definitely one that feels more juvenile, better for the younger readers. But the writing is something we can all appreciate. Now don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the story, I think it was just it was 'young' for my tastes. But this was one that my kids really enjoyed so I think it was quite appropriate for their ages.
I will most definitely find more by this author. As a matter of fact we already have The Tale of Despereaux which I plan to read real soon. I very highly recommend you pick this one up!