Sunday, January 31, 2016

Edward and the great discovery by Rebecca McRitchie and Celeste Hulme

Start with the end paper please when you pick up Edward and the great discovery.  At the front of this book you can see a pattern of spades or trowels.  At the back you can see the full range of Edwards archaeological kit - maps, rope, strong, brushes, a new, explorer hat and sandwich.

"Edward's mother is an archaeologist.
Edward's father is an archaeologist.
Edward's grandmother and grandfather are archaeologists.
And all of them have made very important DISCOVERIES."

The stage is set.  Edward needs a discovery of his own. After a long search Edward finds an egg. No it is not a dinosaur as you might expect.  It is a bird.  A very special bird.  A bird that cannot fly. Have you guessed - it is a dodo.

You might like to read this review.  Here is an activity you could try when you read this book.  You can see inside this book at the illustrator web site.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The King and the sea by Heinz Janisch and Wolf Erlbruch

The King and the sea has a subtitle :

21 Extremely Short Stories

Yes this is what you will find inside this amazing book.  Twenty-one stories ranging in length from 2 lines up to 12.  This is quite a philosophical book but one that I think will appeal to mature children who are prepared to think deeply about the ideas presented here.

I think this is my favourite story :

The King and the Sky
"I need a blanket', said the king. 'This minute!
And make it a good one.'
With that it began to snow.
Soft flakes fell around him.
'There's your blanket,' said the sky as it covered the
landscape in glittering white.
The king gazed in wonder.  'Thank you,' he said."

You might like to read this review.  With a class you could perhaps read one story each day and follow this with a discussion.  It might be good to compile a list of discussion questions taken from these daily readings and perhaps publish these for other classes to explore.  Here are a set of teaching notes.

The tooth mouse by Susan Hood illustrated by Janice Nadeau

Have you ever 
lost a baby tooth,
placed it under your 
pillow and found a coin
left by the tooth fairy?
In many countries around 
the world, there is no such
thing as the Tooth Fairy.
Instead there is ...

At some point during Grade One our library literature choices usually center on teeth and the tooth fairy.  I have a number of favourites which I love to share such as Andrew's Loose tooth by Robert Munsch, The Tooth Ball by Philippa Pearce, Wibble Wobble by Miriam Moss and The Tooth Fairy by Peter Collington.  One of the most interesting books in our school library is Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions Around the World by Selby Beeler & G.Brian Karas.  This is the book where I first discovered that there are so many variations on the tooth fairy.  I like the idea of throwing a tooth up - a bottom tooth - so the new one will grow straight and strong reaching up to the old one.  I also like the idea of burying a tooth at a university where you hope you child might study in the future.  

Not everyone believes in the tooth fairy.  In some cultures teeth are collected by mice.  This little tooth mouse lives in France.  She finds herself in a grand cathedral and hears the Tooth Mouse - La Petite Souris - ready to announce her successor.  To prove worthy of this honour there are three tasks or challenges to complete.  Sophie is so excited.  She is sure she can meet the challenge.

1. Bring me the whisker of a cat
2. Bring me a silver coin
3, Make a plan for the use of all the baby teeth you collect

Sophie's solution to problem number three is sure to make you smile.  Susan Hood has created a charming story for all young children to enjoy.  Here is review in the New York Times and one in Kirkus.  You can see all the book illustrations here.

You might also enjoy April Underhill, tooth fairy by Bob Graham, Oliver Sundew Tooth Fairy by Sam McBratney (one of my most favourite books in the whole world!) and Little Big Feet by Ingrid Schubert.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trouble at home by Cate Whittle illustrated by Kim Gamble

I spied this little book, Trouble at home, in a charming little country bookshop while I was down south on holidays.  It caught my eye because I adore the work of our illustrator Kim Gamble.  He is most famous for the Tashi series by Anna Fienberg but he also illustrated Our School Fete and one of my most favourite picture books Pog.

As Georgia walks home with mum, and her Kindergarten aged brother Henry, she witnesses the theft of her house.  Yes her whole house is stolen by a dragon.  This dragon is a "giant green dragon with blue wings and red scaly bits around his ears."  The loss of their house is indeed a catastrophe but things are far worse.  Gran was home with Godfrey when the house is taken.  Luckily Gran was not inside the house at the exact moment the dragon grabbed the house. Unluckily Godfrey was inside the house.

How will they every find Godfrey?  Where will the family sleep?  All that is left in their back yard is their tool shed (dad sleeps in here), the garden shed (Georgia and Henry sleep with a smelly bag of Foggets Special Rose Food in here) and their outside dunny (luckily).  For reasons I won't go into right now the tent they once owned is no longer available.  Mum and Gran have to sleep in the car.  Naturally everyone is extremely upset - especially mum.

No one believes Georgia when she tries to explain to her parents, Gran and the police about the dragon so she sets off with her brother to solve this problem, find their house and rescue her baby brother.  The trouble comes when she sees the new location of her house.

Pick up a packet of potato chips and a bottle of fizzy sarsaparilla drink before you read this book - you will understand why when you begin this sweet tale of determination and true courage.  I especially like the way Georgia looks in her school library for information about dragons.

I knew this book would be a winner from the first three sentences :

"Ages and ages ago - about two weeks since next Thursday - a giant green dragon stole my baby brother, Godfrey. Well, okay, the giant green dragon actually stole the house.  Godfrey, who is only almost three, was inside watching TV."

Trouble at home is the first book in a planned series of four.  It is a perfect book for a newly confident reader. Scholastic have made a comprehensive set of teaching notes for this book.

One of the things that really works in this little book is the repetition of specific little phrases.  I think this will be reassuring for a new reader and also build confidence.

I would follow reading Trouble at home with Moving House from the Aussie Bites series.  You might also enjoy Yin's magic dragon and the classic dragon story The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch.

Monster Odyssey The eye of Neptune by Jon Mayhew

This book makes a wild claim on the front cover - "if you like Percy Jackson you'll love this" and so this is why I picked this book up last week.

This book, The eye of Neptune, is the first in a series but I am so happy to report that, while the way is certainly paved for the next book, things are resolved at the end of this first installment.

In this first adventure we meet our hero Prince Dakkar.  His mentor, Oginski, has been making an amazing submersible and so when he is captured Dakkar must race across the world, under the oceans, avoiding perilous monsters to find and free his friend.  Along the way he meets another adventurous and courageous girl called Georgia who also has found herself commanding another submersible made by her uncle. Together these young protagonists must face and defeat the evil megalomaniac Cryptos and foil his plan of world domination.

This is a fast pace action adventure story which is fairly easy to read.  It is certainly a page turner and there are some powerful battle scenes.

"A bony click accompanied the appearance of a long stick-like leg from the water.  Then another leg, and another, followed by a blue, spiny boulder with two black beady eyes on stalks and mandibles that fanned the air.  It was a massive crab.  It rose up above Dakkar on its long spidery legs, clicking sharp pincers at him."

Here is a review.  You might also like to check out the author web site.  Here are the details of the second book in this series.

The very important idea by Emma Dodson

This is a story about problem solving.  It is also very funny.  Mr Fat Cat has a very important idea which he promptly forgets following a small catastrophe in the office kitchen caused the new employee Rat.

Rat, ever anxious to be helpful, scurries off to find a a new 'VERY IMPORTANT IDEA'.  Naturally his search begins at his favourite place - the local tip.  "It was a rat's paradise - everything you could ever want."  Rat finds a wonderful sock which he takes back to the office where he makes a formal presentation using a large flip board.  Mr Fat Cat is horrified.  He does not want a sticky old sock. Rat goes back to the tip where he finds an even better sock which has so many uses from fashion accessory to hammock.  This sock is of course rejected immediately by Mr Fat Cat but Rat has one more idea.  He swaps the latest sock for a magic sock which he uses like a snake charmer.  It is at this moment Mr Fat Cat remembers his very important idea.  Perhaps you have already guessed what it is! I am happy to say no rats were harmed in the making of this book.

I would link this book with Strat and Chatto.  It also made me think of Letters from A Mouse which is a tiny chapter book that I adore.  It is long out of print but we are lucky to have two copies in our school library.
I think socks are a wonderful mini theme idea for younger students.  Here are some titles you might find in your library and here are some amazing ways to use old and odd socks.

Why not add a poem when you read this book.  Here is one about lost socks.

The Missing Sock by Angela Wybrow

This afternoon, I had quite a big shock: 
I discovered that I have a missing sock! 
I put my socks inside the washing machine, 
But now one sock is nowhere to be seen.

I started my hunt earlier - had a scout around, 
But, as yet, the missing sock is still to be found.
It's not hung on the line or the clothes airer.
It needs to be reunited with me: its wearer.

The socks were one of my favourite pairs: 
Light blue with a snowy white polar bear.
They also had stars sewn with silvery thread.
I've looked on the floor and inside my bed.

With a missing sock, I've no peace of mind; 
That missing sock, I simply need to find.
It has to be somewhere within the house -
Or maybe it has been stolen by a mouse! 

That poor little sock is all lonely and lost; 
I'll do anything to retrieve it: whatever the cost.
I'm feeling quite upset, as I really do hate
The thought of it coping without its mate.

With the missing sock, I am quite obsessed, 
And, until I have found it, I will not rest.
That missing sock, I will keep looking for
Until it's safe and sound back in its drawer. 

Big by Tim Hopgood

Yesterday I talked about Little Answer by Tim Hopgood.  I think Big is even better.  Size is such an abstract concept.  When a new Kindergarten child enters our school library it looks so BIG.  When students call in to visit after they have left Primary and headed off to High School the first thing every student says is 'wow this library looks so small!'

I think my favourite page comes early in the book when the little boy explains he is growing bigger and the evidence for this is that he can now see his face in the bathroom mirror.  The illustration is just perfect.

If you need a way to explain the way size is relative think about these words :

"To an ant, I'm a ginormous giant. But next to a bear I'm really quite small."  The accompanying text on these pages moves from large to tiny which adds to the fun.

You could pair this book with I'm coming to get you illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura which has the most perfect surprise ending.  You might also enjoy Counting on Frank and How big is big which was written by some students at a Primary school here in Sydney.  I mention Counting on Frank because it jumped into my mind when I read the words "Next to a popcorn I'm massive.  I must be at least 500 popcorns tall."  Here is a maths lesson everyone would enjoy.

I would also link this book with a very old title - Leo the late bloomer which is the perfect book to explore the idea of growing and changing with young children.

Once you have read Big you will want to set up one of those height measuring charts or use a door frame in your home as you explore the idea of growing taller with a young child.

Here is an interview with Tim Hopgood.  I can see we will need to add many more of his special picture books to our library collection.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Little Answer by Tim Hopgood

I am making a collection of books that teachers might use as a writing stimulus.  You can see the covers of some I have gathered.

Little Answer is such a special book and will be added to this collection.  I adore the pictures and the voice of the Little Answer himself. He squeaks hopefully, he tries to sound clever and he mutters the answer.

Perhaps you are wondering what is the answer?  Well it is


Sadly, though,  this is perhaps not the answer to questions such as :

What makes the world go round?
What makes the wind?
What lights up the moon at night?
Where does everything come from?
What are clouds made of?

"Everyone agreed that "sausages!" was probably not the right answer.  
'Don't worry,' said Snail.
'You'll find your question I'm sure of it.'
'You mustn't give up now!' insisted Snail as Little Answer wondered off on his own."

Here are some ideas to extend your reading of this book.  I think it would be fun to think of a little answer and then write a story using the structure here where the final question does match the answer.  Here is a whole unit of work.  I should also mention there are are answers to the deep questions listed above in the back of the book.  Researching and presenting answers to the 'big' questions devised by students could also be an excellent way to develop the themes of this book.

Brimsby's hats by Andrew Prahin

I picked up this little picture book Brimsby's Hats yesterday because ...

  • I loved the cover - the title is silver and embossed - you have to look closely to read it and it is so tactile
  • Later this year we will once again celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime and this year it is a simple book about hats (I got this hat) so I have begun to make a collection of books on this theme.  We will read Brimsby's hats in the lead up to NSS
  • It has been snowing in the Northern hemisphere and we are seeing new pictures here in Australia of huge piles of snow in places like NYC.  Meanwhile here in Australia, especially in Sydney, we seem to be lurching from one heat wave to the next so the idea of reading a cool book held great appeal

Brimsby is a hat maker.  My aunt was a hat maker or milliner. Brimsby makes hats for customers who live all over the world.  His other delight is spending time drinking tea and chatting with his good friend.  One day his friend ( we never discover his name) leaves.  Brimsby is alone and everything becomes very quiet. On this page each window shows the same scene as the trees change through the seasons until the land is white and the trees are bare.

Now we come to the part of this book that I love.  Brimsby does not sit around feeling sorry for himself he sets off into the snowy landscape to find a new friend or two.  Naturally he wears his favourite hat.  He finds some birds but they are preoccupied with other concerns and ignore his gesture of friendship.  Once again Brimsby impressed me.  He goes home and works on a wonderful solution to this problem with the birds.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

He spent hours at a time sitting in an upstairs room, 
scratching away with a quill pen... 
The pen must have driven him crazy; 
he had to trim it often with a special little sharp knife, 
and a bristling bunch of big new feathers sat on his desk waiting for the moment when he threw the old quill irritably on the floor and reached to sharpen a new one.  
I longed to be able to hand him a ballpoint pen.

  • Where is this happening?
  • Who is writing with this quill?
  • Why can't the person describing this scene pass the writer a pen?

This is London.  The year is 1599.  The writer is Will Shakespeare and the observer is a boy called Nat who has been mysteriously transported from our modern world to act in a play at the original Globe theatre.

The play is A Midsummer Night's dream and Nat will take the part of Puck.

This is a gripping story made all the better by the authentic descriptions of London in 1599.  Here are a few :

" ... London swept over me, caught me up, in a nightmare mix of sight and sound and smell. Even before six in the morning the street was filled with people, bustling about, carrying huge bundles, slung from their necks; dodging to avoid men or horses. Carts clattered over the cobbles, creaking, rocking, slashing up muck ... The whole street smelled bad."

"More than anything from the that first day, I remember the noise.  You'd think that we have more noise today in the everyday world, what with traffic ... but the London of that time was full of church clocks striking the quarter hours, and church bells ringing for services; of watchmen ringing handbells in the street."

"The streets around the theatre were crammed with people, and here and there tumblers and musicians working their hearts our for an odd coin."

I have been reading books which reference Shakespeare because later this year our Grade Five students will view a production by the Bell Shakespeare Company.  This year their play is based on A Midsummer Night's dream and is called Bottoms Dream.

Below I have included a range of book covers for King of Shadows first published in 1999.  Ours is the largest one - which one do you like?

This book could be used as an extension reading resource for our more able students.  There are some harsh scenes in this book including decapitated heads on poles which Nat sees near London bridge and his experience of bear baiting which is quite graphic.

This book is so famous it even has its own entry in Wikipedia.

You can listen to a ten minute audio sample here which begins in the modern world with the group of boys who are getting ready to travel to London to perform at the new Globe theatre.  Here is the Kirkus review.  There are some good links and teaching ideas here.

Auggie and me three wonder stories by RJ Palacio

Auggie and me is the companion volume to Wonder (cover below) and so before you pick up Auggie and me it is essential to read Wonder - a very popular book in our school library.

RJ Palacio explains :

"What this book is, preisely, is an expansion of Auggie's world. The three stories in Auggie and me - The Julian Chapter, Pluto and Shingaling, all originally published as short ebooks - are told from the perspective of Julian, Christopher and Charlotte, respectively. ... Auggie and me is not a sequel in a traditional sense".

For this review I thought I might link to the thoughts of other reviewers who have made the comments I would have made but in a far more eloquent way.  Each of these quotes contains a link :

Like millions of people worldwide, I fell in love with Wonder.  I was so excited to read more from R.J. Palacio when I got the offer to read Auggie & Me.  I am not usually a huge fan of short stories, but the three stories in Auggie & Me are short stories done right.

After reading all three of them in a row, I think that Palacio has written three lovely, insightful looks at what it means to be show grace, humility and empathy, but most importantly: what it is to live, and learn from one's mistakes and life choices

Palacio doesn’t fall into the trap of merely repeating or rehashing what happens in Wonder. She gives us Julian away from school, away from the drama and tension of Auggie. Being in Julian’s head is both confronting and illuminating.

I did not plan to read this book in one sitting but I just couldn't put it down.  I especially enjoyed the section about Auggie's old friend Christopher and his personal struggles with his loyalty to Auggie and the pressures of new friends.  You might like to watch these two videos - an interview with RJ Palacio and the publisher trailer for The Julian chapter.  We also have 365 days of Wonder in our library - this book was given to me as a special gift by a group of our teachers last year.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Numerical Street by Antonia Presenti and Hilary Bell

Last year I talked about Alphabetical Sydney and I am pleased to say one of the grades in my school have adopted this terrific book as a key text to study.  Now we have the companion volume Numerical Street.

Numerical Street is a slightly more complex text. There may be some 'old fashioned' ideas you need to explain to a younger reader such as hairdressers putting combs in blue water, the work of an upholstery shop and the plastic tray covers used by butchers but don't let that stop you seeking out this book.  Young children will enjoy all the stories you have to share of shopping in the past.   I love the premise of looking for numbers in your environment.  The choice of shops have a slightly retro feel which will appeal to adult audience and young children will enjoy hunting for all the number references.  It will be easy to guess my favourite page - the cake shop!

"One apple pie, please, and one neenish tart,
Fingerbun, rock cake and scone: That's a start.
Still got a terrible sharp hunger pang:
Make it a very large lemon meringue.
Throw in a lamington - yes that's enough.
And tea, please. No sugar, I don't touch the stuff."

For international readers here is a plate of Neenish tarts.  They are small pastry cases filled with a mock cream, sometimes there is a smear of jam under the cream and the top as you can see is chocolate and pink icing.  One of my jobs as a young student was in a suburban cake shop and after lots of practice and failures I actually mastered the technique of icing a neenish.

Also for international readers you might need to research some of the Australian words used in Numerical Street such as esky, thermos, rego, undies, banksias and myna birds.  I have included some cake photos below.

Here are a couple of my favourite lines from Numerical Street :

"Our pharmacist's busy, don't have a conniption:
Please take a seat while we fill your prescription."

Here is the web site of the illustrator and some images from this book.   You might like to read about the inspiration for this book.  Here is a review.

Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad illustrated by Lucia Masciullo

He wanted her life to be sunshine and marigolds, fairy floss and pink lemonade, dancing tunes played on piano accordions and meadows full of frolicking lambs

Olive of Groves is a romp.  Reading this book is such a treat.  I smiled from page one through to page 260.  Some truly awful things happen to Olive (a couple of times I had to stop reading) but I knew I was in very good hands with Katrina Nannestad and that this gifted author would protect her heroine Olive.  Olive will survive. Olive will triumph. Goodness and kindness, patience and perseverance will defeat the evil school bully - Pig McKenzie.

Olive of Groves contains a huge cast of characters - each with special and sometimes dangerous talents.  There are eleven naughty boys.  Tiny Tim who never ever washes his socks, Reginald the butter spreader and Carlos an explosives expert.  There are eleven talking animals including three friendly rats - Wordsworth who loves his dictionary (I have quoted him at the top of this post), Blimp who loves to eat and Chester who collects and loves buttons.  Among the circus performers you will meet Anastasia, Eduardo and Alfonzo the most fabulous acrobats. Finally there is the school headmistress Mrs Groves "befuddled and bonkers" and Pig McKenzie "a pig of evil intent."

Olive arrives at her new school - Mrs Groves' Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.

"Olive was ... a sensible and practical girl.  She ate peas with a spoon and folded her toast together like a sandwich so that if dropped, it could not land jam-side down; she wore her jet-back hair long enough to pull back into a ponytail, but short enough that it was easy to keep clean and tangle free; she kept small snacks under her pillow in case of midnight hunger pangs; and she arranged all her clothes in alphabetical order."

Can you see the problem?  How will Olive fit in to her new school?  She is a girl, not a boy or a talking animal. Her only course of action is to become a circus performer.  This will be difficult but Olive is determined to stay at Groves.  Mrs Groves tells Olive she can stay for one week on probation.  She is assigned her room and Mrs Groves quickly runs away because she is scared of girls!  When Olive finally reaches the turret Olive meets three very special rats. She sets out her possessions including her alarm clock and arranges her clothes in alphabetic order. After dinner Pig McKenzie visits her room.  He picks up her clock.  "Glass shattered and springs, coils, cogs, screws, hands, bells and other mysterious clockwork components exploded across the room."  This is the first of many horrid incidents involving the despicable pig.  Luckily her friends come to the rescue.  One of my favourite scenes comes the next day when these delightful little rats repair her clock.

"The newly assembled alarm clock was a truly amazing piece of engineering. ...The hands moved backwards in an anticlockwise direction, ... a chunk of cheese sat where the number eight used to be." In spite of this haphazard repair the clock and alarm still work.

One other little delightful touch in this book relates to the buttons.  Teachers could use this as a simple stimulus for writing.  Chester invents the most wonderful and fanciful stories to explain each button.

"I found this one down the back of the sofa in the library four weeks, two days and three hours ago.  It's from the Napoleonic Wars.  Fell off the Duke of Wellington's shirt during the Battle of Waterloo."

Here are some of the wonderful words in this book.  This is just a tiny sample :


Pig McKenzie uses some hilarious names for Olive - her is another fun writing exercise - finding words beginning with a particular letter - here is it O.


I loved The girl who bought Mischief and so I was delighted to see Katrina Nannestad had written another book.  Read an extract from Olive of Groves.  Once again I have found a book that is truly wonderful.  I recommend you rush into a library and grab this book today!  Make sure you read the chapter headings - they are part of the delight! I dare to hope this book will be short listed for our 2016 CBCA Book of the Year awards - fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The cat that scratched by Jonathan Long illustrated by Korky Paul

Here is a puzzle. I think these two covers and different titles are actually the same book.  I am guessing the title changed when the book was reprinted in 2009.  We own the one called The cat that scratched.

I have been making a collection of rhyming picture books and picture books which contain a story poem.  The Cat that Scratched is a fairly old book first published in 1997 but it contains a terrific story with a repeated refrain which means it will work very well as a read-a-loud.

The illustrations are also very special.  Korky Paul is famous as the illustrator of the Winnie the Witch series.

"There once was a cat with a terrible itch.  She had fleas in her fur which was making her twitch."

The pesky flea refuses to go.
"Ha ha ha,' said a voice, all tiny and teasy.  'To get rid of me won't be nearly that easy."

There are some wonderful words in this book :

This poor beleaguered cat tries everything.  She shakes and spins.  Tries using a vacuum cleaner.  She asks the hairdresser to comb, curl and clip.  The scene where she puts herself through the car wash is amazing. "Scrub-dub-dub, it went, duba-scrub-scrub. And rolled her around like a sock in a tub."

Finally the cat decides she just has to live with this itch.  She sets off down the road where she encounters a scene of great panic because a lion has just escaped from the zoo.  I will leave you to guess at the possible ending.

You might like to follow this book with a couple more about fleas.  Scritch Scratch by Miriam Moss, Mr McGee and the biting flea by Pamela Allen, The very itchy bear by Nick Bland and for a book with a different viewpoint coincidentally also illustrated by Korky Paul take a look at Tiny by Paul Rogers.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Loot by Jude Watson

Taut, engrossing and unstoppable

The words at the top of this post come from the starred Kirkus review as do the ones below.  

I am shocked to realize I first mentioned Loot back in April, 2015.  It has taken me nearly nine months to read this book - why did I wait - it is such a gripping crime thriller.  I started this book yesterday, read late into the night and left chores undone this morning in my race to reach the end.

When you begin reading this book (and yes I am going to say this again - please read this book NOW!) you must pay careful attention to all the details.  The story opens with three thieves pulling off a most daring jewelry crime.  They take "a priceless emerald brooch owned by Catherine the Great. The Crack in the Sky, the world's most famous turquoise. The sixty-carat Makepeace Diamond, said to be the most brilliant gem in the history of the world."    This could be the perfect crime but one thief is greedy.  He takes one more piece.  A pretty necklace for his girlfriend made with seven moonstones. In an act of defiance he twirls it in the air and the clasp breaks.  As the moonstones fall they form a circle in the moonlight and each thief has a vision.

The third thief will be captured and made to pay.
The second thief will die before the moon is set.
It is the curse for the first thief that is the worst of all.  In thirteen years time the twins will die.

The twins are March and Jules.  Their father Alfie, the first thief, has kept them apart for almost thirteen years but now he has died, the twins are reunited and race is on.  Working with two other kids that they meet when they are placed into a corrupt and abusive care facility our young gang members must find and steal the 7 moonstones in order to lift the curse.  Luckily for March and Jules, Izzy is a computer whiz and Darius has brilliant criminal connections.   Alfie has left clues and instructions. Some moments in this book will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Here is a web site for the author and review with more plot details.  This audio sample will give you a good sense of the tension created by this twisting tale.  Here is a review by Rick Riordan.

Driven by thrilling, nonstop action and featuring very brief chapters that readily sustain interest, this twisting and turning but ever-so-clever thriller is akin to the best of roller-coaster rides.