Kids Corner: Story Thieves by James Riley

Imaginative, Super Funny, Fantastic Tale!

Story Thieves James RileyStory Thieves
by James Riley

Series: Story Thieves (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Length: 400pp
ISBN-13: 9781481409193

Starred Reviews:

Related Links:
James Riley’s Website
Read the First Two Chapters!
Publisher’s Website

Buy the Book


Publisher Synopsis

Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

My Review

Owen is in math class, mentally enumerating tortuously dull things to prove that nothing is more boring than fractions. Until class gets “a fraction less boring” when Bethany is caught “hunched down behind her math book”. It looks like she might be sleeping until she drops her math book to reveal a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hiding behind. Did he see chocolate on her chin?

When Owen looks for Bethany after class, she’s disappeared. He finds only a chocolate-stained copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lying in the hallway. If that doesn’t beat all, it’s a book from the library where his mom works — and makes him help out. Disgusted at Bethany’s mishandling of the book, Owen takes it back to the library and reshelves it. Or at least he attempts to, but the book starts jumping around. Suddenly “five chocolate-covered fingers [push] right out of the center of the book, [grab] the edge, and [begin] to pull themselves out”!

It turns out Bethany is half-fictional, and she’s desperately searching for her fictional dad. Owen, thrilled that books are real, sees an opportunity to be an active participant. He aims to prevent the death of the Magister in the seventh Kiel Gnomenfoot book. He promises Bethany he’ll keep her secret and leave her alone if she’ll give him five minutes in the book. And he thinks he can use a magical spell to locate her father!

There are many wonderful aspects to Story Thieves. The principal characters are extremely relatable. Who hasn’t sat in class bored silly wishing life were more interesting? And who doesn’t love to escape into a book when life gets crazy?

Full of adventure, humor, and seemingly endless imagination, Story Thieves is a ton of fun. The story within a story element takes off in unpredictable fashion as Owen and Bethany change the course of events. Bethany is quiet and introverted, looking only for peace and quiet, but Owen yearns for excitement. The two are good foils for one another. As each separately navigates the fictional world, they at once change and are changed by their fictional counterparts. Each learns much about friendship. Bethany learns to “be more fictional”, to loosen up and take risks. And she finds that life can be a lot more fun. Owen learns about consequences, responsibility, and what real heroism is. He also decides that normal and ordinary are quite okay.

Possibly the thing I love most about Story Thieves is the pure love of books and stories it communicates. Bethany so ably explains the value of fiction: “We read about people in impossible situations because we’re dealing with horrible things ourselves…And you going through your story helps us with ours.”

— Dawn Teresa


4.5 Hearts - Final

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Imaginative, Super Funny, Fantastic Tale!

When Owen and Bethany jump into the latest book in Owen’s favorite series, they discover that stories are even more magical and meaningful than they thought. And in the course of changing the story, they learn much about how to author their own lives.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Aladdin and Edelweiss for providing me access to this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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