Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe

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Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lively story of the day a circus came to a sleepy town and all hell broke loose. Fast and furious with a joke a minute, slapstick action and bizarre characters, it's an irresistible book for middle grade readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: March 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1471120236

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Here is the warning for reviewers who have received a copy of Circus of Thieves:

If you are chronologically vulnerable, easily confused, or allergic to hiccups in the space-time continuum, do not attempt to read unless you are wearing thick sunglasses or a snorkel with mask - flippers optional.

Ahem. I'm guilty on all counts. I don't own thick sunglasses or a snorkel with a mask. I read it anyway. So sue me!

Hannah is inquisitive and sharp. She's always on the lookout for something new and interesting - but new and interesting are rare things in her dull little town. And then, one morning, Armitage Shank's Impossible Circus comes to town. The procession is led by Billy Shanks and taramasalata-loving (nobody should ever be required to type taramasalata - it's a direct cause of repetitive strain injury, I am sure) camel, Narcissus. There are twin clowns, a human cannon ball, a French trapeze artist and his Russian assistant and the ringmaster himself, Armitage Shanks. Hannah is entranced. But she senses that Billy is guarding a dark secret. When Billy confides in her, Hannah helps him concoct a plan.

Can Hannah and Billy foil Armitage Shanks in his criminal plans for the town? Will Billy find his real father? The only thing we can be sure of is that Hannah will avoid the fate she thinks is worse than death - BOREDOM.

There are some really funny jokes in this story. I laughed out loud several times. Actually, it might have been dozens of times - which says a great deal about my sense of humour. Humans read their emails in the morning but Fizzer the dog spends time sniffing trees - reading his pee-mails. Ha! Wollycobbles are similar to collywobbles but MUCH WORSE. Ha again! There's lots of wordplay, lots of daft definitions, plenty of slapstick and a whole host of bizarre characters. Circus of Thieves might be quite a short story with a simple plot but it's truly dense with high spirits and a sense of fun. I loved this about it.

There's more to come and Sutcliffe has kindly provided a list of questions that still need answering. The most pressing for me is the true identity of stick-wielding Granny but you might want to know why Fluffypants the cat never washes his right ear. These things will (well, probably will) be answered in book two, which for me can't come quickly enough. This is Sutcliffe's first book for younger readers and I think it's a triumph.

For more briilliant circus stories, try The Lightning Key by Jon Berkeley and its two sequels.

Buy Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom by William Sutcliffe at Amazon.com.


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