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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Prairie Thief Hardcover – August 28, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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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)
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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: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A bewitching blend of literary comfort food and spice. There is the familiar, cozy feeling that we've settled in with Melissa Wiley's historical fiction, that we get to spend time with the realistic and sweetly brave heroines she conjures. But this book is unique, with its own surprises -- not a rerun of anything-Little-House. The writing is lively and magical, and refreshingly wholesome for the intended age group (middle grade.) At the same time, The Prairie Thief deftly but subtly explores for the young reader the ethics of when to tell the truth, or the whole truth, or nothing but the truth. The tightly woven plot is a delight to unwind and the ending will leave your child hoping for a sequel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't realized this book had a gnome in it when i order it for myself. I will admit when I actually held the book and saw the cover I was a little put off by I and didn't read it until last week. That said when I did finally start it I couldn't put it down and was reminded all over again why I fell in love with Myelissa Wiley's style of writing. I am 19 and volunteer at my library often. I love books whether they be children's book like "Piggy and Elephant", "Beatrix Potter", "Curious George", "Fancy Nancy". or Junior Books like "The Little House on the Prairie" "Junie B Jones" "Encyclopedia Brown". This book quickly found its place among my shelf with my favorite and classic books. Thank you Mrs. Wiley for reminding me once again of the joy of a child's imagination and the determination of love!
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Format: Paperback
My 9-year old daughter groaned when I showed her the cover. "This book has a gnome in it? Mom, I'm too old for 'fairy' books!" However, she is still a pushover for bedtime read-alouds, and it was my turn to pick, so I said I'd just read the first chapter to see if she liked it. Did she ever! I loved the dialogue and character development. So many artfully described scenes. (The pronghorn ride was one of my favorites!) The prairie thief's motivation, when revealed, just melted my heart. Thank you, Melissa Wiley, for helping to keep my daughter "young enough for a fairy tale" just a wee bit longer, and for giving me the opportunity to share this delightful story with her!
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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: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this for my nice who's coming to visit next week. As I am much older than the intended audience, I had no plans on reading it myself. I did decide to take a quick peek at it, planning only to skim through it just so I could chat with her about it. Skim? Forget it! I read every word because I simply had to see where the story was going. Yes, it is a children's book but an exceptionally well written one. This will be a great holiday gift for a number of kiddos in my life!
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