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The Prairie Thief Hardcover – August 28, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442440562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442440562
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Louisa is distraught and confused when her Pa is accused of stealing from their neighbors, the Smirches. To make matters worse, she has to stay with them while her father awaits his trial in jail. The atmosphere in her temporary living situation is toxic, but Louisa finds a bright spot in Jessamine, the Smirches's orphaned niece. Jessamine is full of life, and at first Louisa thinks that she's full of exaggerations, too: Jessamine claims to have seen a gnome. Louisa doesn't believe her-until she comes face to face with the little man herself. Though he seems cantankerous, he has a good heart and is instrumental in facilitating the story's happy ending. Wiley has created a charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and Tony DiTerlizzi's "The Spiderwick Chronicles" (S & S). Short chapters and the air of mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, and readers will be taken with Louisa, who is sweet and mild-mannered, yet has the strength to fight for what is right. The writing is breezy and lyrical, with lots of dialect to reflect the speech patterns of both the folks in 19th-century Colorado and the gnomes. Occasional full-page black-and-white illustrations are appealing with their painterly appearance and the wide-eyed Pixaresque look of the characters. Some of the characters are rather one-dimensional (Mrs. Smirch is a little too evil; Pa is a little too good), but this is a minor drawback in an otherwise top-notch story.-Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

"Fans of the Little House books will recognize the setting and enjoy the fantastic twist. Stylized black-and-white illustrations capture key moments and add to the warm tone. The comedic, unexpected, satisfying conclusion hits just the right note. A pleasing folkloric/historical blend."--Kirkus Reviews

“A charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and The Spiderwick Chronicles…Mystery and suspense keep the pages turning. [A] top-notch story.” (School Library Journal)

More About the Author

Melissa Wiley is the author of The Prairie Thief (a Junior Library Guild Selection), Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, and the Inch and Roly series, as well as Little House in the Highlands and seven other novels about the ancestors of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She is a contributing writer for Wired.com's GeekMom blog and is cowriter (with her husband, Scott Peterson) of Into the Thicklebit, a webcomic about family life, illustrated by Chris Gugliotti.

Melissa blogs about books and kids at Here in the Bonny Glen (melissawiley.com/blog).

Customer Reviews

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Highly recommended as a classroom read-aloud.
Sally P. Booklover
We very much look forward to the next in the series!
Jay
I loved the dialogue and character development.
IMHO

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary G on August 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love reading fun chapter books ... books that I know my family will love as a read-aloud. We do classics and new books equally, but I usually pre-read the new books just to make sure they'll work for my very different children (two boys 13 and 9, and one girl 12).

I knew I didn't have to worry too much about Wiley's newest book ... we loved her Martha and Caroline prequels to the Little House series and I've known her for years online. But after reading the opening sentence of the book ... I was hooked and HAD to pre-read.

Set on the prairies of 1882 Kansas, motherless Louisa Brody is plopped into a tough situation: living with the cranky family that has accused her father of theft while trying to solve who the real thief might be.

The tale woven throughout the pages of this book is a magical journey that allows the reader to embrace Louisa's situation, rant with her at the injustice of it all, and cheer when it all comes right in the end. Louisa is ably abetted by Jessamine, the 9-year-old niece of the Smirches (and isn't that a fabulous name for "bad guys"), and a Circuit Court Judge who knows more than anyone about what's actually going on. Other memorable characters include Mathilda Smirch, who is just begging to be hated, and her obnoxious six-year-old, Winthrop Smirch, the cause of all Louisa's troubles.

My glowing review is seconded by others who read advanced copies; the book was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection and the Bravewriter Arrow selection for October 2012.

See if you and your family don't agree with us!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marta E. Magellan on September 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley was a delightful children's book. Although it had an element of fantasy, the way she blended it into life on a farm in the prairie gave it credibility I don't always feel in children's fantasy. The dialogue and dialect felt authentic, and the theme of justice and honesty won't be lost on the child reading it. I highly recommend it for anybody who wants to buy a book for a 7-11-year-old girl or even a boy, who isn't put off by a female main character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sally P. Booklover on November 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Life might be simple out on the prairie, but this story is rich with adventure and mystery.

Perfect for readers who love spunky heroines, a bit of magic, and all kinds of animals, with sprinkles of humor mixed in with the trouble.

A delight, all the way around. Highly recommended as a classroom read-aloud.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Pace on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Melissa Wiley has combined her first-hand knowledge of the Colorado prairie with a love of history and folklore to create THE PRAIRIE THIEF, a delightful middle-grade novel about Louisa, a pioneer girl whose father has been falsely accused of theft. With theft a hanging offense on the prairie, Louisa's time is running short, but in the end, with the help of a surprising new pair of friends, she manages to not only save her Pa, but also rectify some long-ago wrongs. Louisa's adventure will make a great elementary school or family bedtime read-aloud.
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Format: Paperback
We really enjoyed the author's other books (the Little House prequels) so I wanted to read this, but I held off because I wasn't sure I'd like the mixed genre (fantasy and historical fiction which is an odd combination, in my opinion). I pre-read it this week in 2 days before giving it to my children to read....the author really made the story work, and the writing was captivating, descriptive and interesting.
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Format: Paperback
Melissa Wiley is a wizard with similes and many other things. Great book, a must read!
What I like is that she doesn't keep droning on, she makes it really interesting in many ways: long chapters and very creative stories for each chapter. My favorite part is when a string (from Mrs. Smirch's hat) with keys on the end was flying in circles hitting everyone in the face. That was so hilarious.

Liefe S.
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