Prosper and Bo are two brothers who have run away from their Aunt Esther who wants to separate them. Aust Esther wants to keep the younger, cuter Bo as her own but wants to send Prosper away to boarding school. The boys run to Venice; Aunt Esther and Uncle Max Hartlieb have followed them there. Esther hires a private detective, Victor Getz, to track down the boys.
The boys are living in an abandoned movie theater with three other children, Hornet, Riccio, and Mosca. The children are led by a very mysterious boy called the Thief Lord. They live in a movie theater, which they fondly call the Star-Palace.
The children get a visit from the Thief Lord, Scipio. He brings the children the goods from his most recent raid and tells them to sell the items for cash. The only person who will buy stolen items from children is Ernesto Barbarossa, a fat, shady man with an antiques shop and a large red beard, earning him the nickname “Redbeard” among the children. Prosper begrudgingly agrees to haggle with Barbarossa for a good price.
At Barbarossa’s shop, Prosper gets the desired price, and Barbarossa tells them of a job proposition for the Thief Lord. Prosper and Riccio leave the shop, talking so intently that Prosper runs into a man. It is Victor, the detective, who recognizes Prosper and follows the children. They lose him, but Victor decides to wait in St. Mark’s Square until the boys wander through.
Back at the Star-Palace, Scipio agrees to take the job, and Prosper tells Hornet about the detective who is tracking them. She convinces him that the detective will not find him. The next morning, the boys tell Barbarossa that the Thief Lord accepts, and they go to meet the Conte in St. Mark’s Basilica for further instructions.
At St. Mark’s, Prosper leaves Bo outside with Hornet and goes into the church to meet the Conte, who tells them to steal a wooden wing from Signora Ida Spavento. Outside, in the square, Victor has spotted Bo, and questions him under the pretense of showing him how to feed pigeons. Prosper exits the church and sees Bo speaking with Victor. He grabs Bo, and Victor begins trailing them. Hornet causes a scene, allowing the boys to leave undetected.
Victor searches for the movie theater that Bo had mentioned in their conversation. He finds the owner, Dottore Massimo, who tells his son to get Victor a key. The son is Scipio! Victor recognizes him from the square. Scipio runs to warn his friends.
The children capture Victor and tie him up. During captivity, Victor gets to know Prosper and Bo, and begins to like them. Meanwhile, the children go to stake out Ida Spavento’s house where they will steal the wing.
Back at the hideout, Victor tells them that Scipio is not who they think he is, and sends them to the Massimo’s house where they discover Scipio is the son of Dottore Massimo. Meanwhile, Victor sneaks out, leaving a note promising not to tell the Hartliebs.
The children decide to...
(The entire section is 1209 words.)
Welcome to the magical underworld of Venice, Italy, where hidden canals and deserted old theaters shelter runaway children and orphans with incredible secrets.. Prosper and Bo, orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle, join the thief lord who leads a ring of street children in petty crimes.
When the detective who is looking for the two boys spills the beans about Scipio's real father, the group begins to fall apart. At the same time they take on a big theft for a huge sum and find themselves in the middle of a mystery that has never been solved, the disappearance of a magical merry-go-round. Soon the boys are thrust into circumstances that will lead them to a fantastic, spellbinding conclusion.
- Was it a good idea for Prosper and Bo to run away to Venice? Why or why not?
- Is Victor really a good detective or is he lucky?
- Why do you think Scipio pretends to be the Thief Lord?
- Why is Prosper so protective of Bo?
- Why does Bo look up to the Thief Lord?
- Would you make the same choices that Prosper makes?
- Why doesn't Victor turn in the boys when he finds them?
- Why does Ida help the boys?
- What do you think happens to Renzo and Morosina in the end?
- If you could become a grown-up right now, would you?
- Why did Barbarossa choose to go with Prosper and Bo's aunt?
- Who are you most like in the book and why?
If you like this book, try
- From The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Lightland by Heather McCutchen
- Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
Italian pastries, ravioli and ice cream
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