Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Loot: How to Steal a Fortune Audio

Loot: How to Steal a Fortune Audio

Jude Watson
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (MP3 CD)
Performed/read by: Michael Crouch
Brilliance Audio, 2015   ISBN: 978-1501228971

Ever since his mother died when he was two, March has spent his life traveling around the world with his father. Thanks to his father’s occupation – he is a thief – March has had a most unusual childhood, and he has skills that most young people never acquire. He knows how to pick locks, where to buy a false passport in several European capitals, and how to tell when someone is following him. Being the son of a notorious criminal has meant that March has had several close calls and has come painfully close to being captured by the authorities.

Now March and his father are in Amsterdam and his father, Alfie, is out doing a job. March is at their appointed meeting place as planned but something has clearly gone wrong because Alfie is not where he is supposed to be. Instead, he is on the roof of the hotel that he has robbed, and before March’s eyes his father slips, falls, and lands in the street below. Alfie uses the last of his strength to give March some messages and then he dies, leaving his almost thirteen year old son alone and on the run in a foreign city. Alfie tells March to “find jewels” and then he says the words “Stick. Rag.”

Later, among Alfie’s things, March finds a business card advertising “The Stick and Rag Players.” March finds out where the show is taking place and is there to see the beginning of the show. Then the police arrive on the scene, and before March can get away, he is recognized and taken into custody. All he has left of his father is a book, a list, a key, and a deck of cards

After a week of organizing paperwork, March is handed over to an American official and the two of them go to the airport to board a plane bound for the United States. March is going to be placed in a group home in upstate New York. While he and his guard are waiting to board the flight, another American official arrives with another young person in tow. March recognizes the girl, whom he saw performing at the Stick and Rag Players show. He then finds out that the girl is none other than his twin sister. Her name is Julia, and her aunt – who is also Alfie’s aunt of course – calls her Jules. Now March understands the message his father was trying to give him. He wanted March to find Jules, which March has done without even meaning to. The problem is that March and Jules are now is a pretty dire situation.

The only realize how dire it is when they get to the group home, which is a grim, miserable place run by a couple who couldn’t care less about the children in their care. One TV night, purely by chance, everyone at the group home watches a program about famous crimes and criminals. March learns that his father and mother were part of a three person team that stole, among other things, gems from Carlotta Grimstone. His mother died during the theft, and the other partner, Robert Oscar, was captured. The only person who got away was Alfie. Later that night Jules runs away, without telling March what she is up to. The next day March sees a story about a theft that took place in New York City and despite the disguise she is wearing, he can tell that one of the thieves is Jules. March and two of the other kids at the home, Izzy and Darius, then start to figure out what the things Alfie left behind mean. And they do mean something. They are instructions for a series of thefts that he had been planning to carry out, and a list of targets. It would appear that Jules is going ahead with the heists, following in her illustrious father’s footsteps. Now March has to decide what he is going to do. Is he going to stay at the group home, or is he too going to turn to a life of crime.

Young listeners are going to thoroughly enjoy this action-packed story, which takes them on an adventure that is full of surprises and plot twists. The author gives the narrative an added dimension by exploring the ways in which people can come together to create their own unique family unit. We see how March and Jules evolve as they come to understand that they need each other, and their friends, to survive in a world that is full of dangers.