What You Need to Know:|
• Independence and freedom are key themes in this story.
• This book is the first in the series. The next is expected out in fall 2011.
• There are a few deaths and one bomb but nothing is overly graphic.
• The main character is a strong, courageous girl who stands up for herself.
• Being a thief, or knowing when to steal, is actually a good thing in this story.
Goldie Roth is longing for freedom. She has spent her whole life in chains and can’t stand it any longer. That’s the way life is in the City of Jewel. All children spend their days and nights chained to either their parents or the Blessed Guardians. The Guardians are civil servants, led by the Fugleman. They are supposedly trained to ensure the safety of the children but they abuse their powers and seem to do more harm than good. The Protector of the City of Jewel has shifted the Separation Day (when the chains are removed) age requirement from sixteen to twelve, so Goldie’s time in chains is almost over. Unfortunately, just as she’s about to be freed, the Fugleman bursts into the ceremony with the bad news that a bomb has killed a child. In a city where they’ve gone so far as to chain their children in order to protect them, this news is obviously not good. When the Fugleman calls off the Separation, Goldie makes a startling choice, partially guided by a mysterious voice she often hears in the back of her mind, and runs for the exit, escaping into the streets of Jewel.
Goldie now has the freedom that she has always wanted, but can she handle the fear that goes along with it? She makes it through the night and with a little guidance from one of its Keepers, finds her way to the Museum of Dunt. The Museum is the place where the wild things from the past have been stowed away and the Keepers ensure that those things stay calm and hidden. The Museum is almost a living being and the Keepers, who are for some reason also required to have been thieves, have special powers and the knowledge to control this giant, mysterious creature. The Keepers know that something is going wrong in the City of Jewel and Goldie decides to stay and help them fight against whatever it is. For the first time in her life, she is in control of her own decisions and her own destiny. She realizes that she can’t wait around for someone else to save her, but must save herself. She learns a great deal from the other Keepers. Olga teaches her that it is better to be cautious when she’s dealing with the unknown and warns her to think carefully before making her choices. Herro Dan teaches her how to deal with her fears by accepting them rather than trying to push them away. She realizes that she’d rather face her fears than go back to a life where she wasn’t free to be herself. From Toadspit, a boy close to her own age, she learns the power of cooperation and communication. Sinew teaches her how to control her thoughts. Everything that she learns is helpful in her training as a Keeper, but also relevant to what any child might need to learn as they grow up and become more independent.
While Goldie is getting accustomed to her new life, there is a lot going on in Jewel. Her parents have been sent to The House of Repentance, the Protector’s powers are waning and the cunning Fugleman is vying for power. When the Museum gets his attention and he starts trying to figure out what’s going on in there, the trouble really starts. He sets the Museum in motion and things that have been buried there for hundreds of years begin to awaken and be drawn out. The plague and warring soldiers are just a few of the possible problems the city will face if the Fugleman isn’t stopped. Goldie uses her newly acquired knowledge and maturity and plays a key role in saving the Museum and Jewel. She is inspired by Olga’s story of past children who found the strength and courage to carry their brothers and sisters to safety and wants to find that same power within herself. It is the children in this story who find their voices and learn their own value. They realize the importance of independence and freedom as they watch the adults, who have been over protected their whole lives, unable to function when their courage is tested. It is also the children of Jewel, as it often is in real life, who are more predisposed to accept change and new challenges before their parents are able to do so.
Goldie does witness some scary things like the sadistic Fugleman giggling over the body of a recently shot Guardian, the wicked Guardians cruel behavior toward the children and the bloody deaths of some soldiers. The book goes well beyond these things though and really focuses on the dystopian society and how the people function in such a place. It is written in the spirit of Harry Potter and City of Ember where the reader is immersed into another world. I like the fact that in this world, the main character is a strong, powerful female role model who makes things happen in her life rather than waiting for them to happen to her. There were a few points in the story that aren’t completely clear to me, like why it is important that the Fugleman and the Protector are brother and sister and whose voice it is that advises Goldie, but these things don’t detract too much from the plot. As I was reading, I definitely sensed the author’s intention to use the Museum of Thieves to lay the foundation for a series and was proven correct in the end when I found a promotion for the next book, coming in the fall of 2011.
2010, 320 pages
Adventure, Fantasy, Girl Power, Growing Up, Independence, Overcoming Fears, War
• How would you feel about being chained to your parents or other adults?
• Would you have done what Goldie did and run away?
• What makes Goldie so brave? Have you been in a situation where you had to be brave?
• Were the Guardians bad or just trying to protect the children?
• Are there any similarities between Jewel and where you live?
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