Publication Date: February 16, 2016
This was my attempt to do a Kirkus-style review, so it’s a little different!
Mischievous George Beckett must decide whether he will continue as a star pupil at the world’s most illustrious thieving academy or if his greatest heist will be a rebellious act of kindness in this whimsical novel from middle grade author Magaziner (The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, 2014).
When George is kidnapped to attend Pilfer Academy, he has no idea what to expect; he was never particularly good at school, but he does have a talent for swiping his siblings’ stuff. His penchant for trouble quickly leads him to the top of the class rankings, and it only helps that he appears to be Dean Dean Deanbugle’s new favorite student. Yet when a practical midterm leads him to steal from someone who, well, seems less than deserving of the theft, George begins to question whether he is heartless enough to hack it at Pilfer. There is no way to quit Pilfer and any students caught trying to escape face the school’s most notorious punishment, the Whirlyblerg. It takes all of George’s cunning, and the help of a friend, to come up with a plan that will allow them to filch Pilfer’s greatest treasure: the students. George’s journey through Pilfer is a string of quirky escapades. The school is like an outlandish funhouse filled with everything its alumni have ever stolen, ranging from Neil Armstrong’s space rock collection to mountains of candy, while the classes teach students thing like sneakerific stealth and how to write the perfect ransom note. The tone of the novel is quirky, humorous and wildly imaginative—until George has to steal from an actual victim. Even as the story takes a more serious turn and tackles tough issues like trusting friends with dangerous secrets and facing the consequences for standing up for your beliefs, the tone remains hopeful. Even as George begins to fear he might be stuck at Pilfer forever, the story never gets too dark.
An exuberantly fun story about trust, friendship and doing the right thing.