The Thief's Apprentice

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Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
5.4 X 7.6 X 1.1 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Bryan Methods grew up in the sleepy village of Crowhurst, on the south coast of the United Kingdom.

After studying English at Trinity College, Cambridge, he found work as a professional drummer, which lasted as long as it took for the singer and guitarist to fall out and split up the band. He then returned to Cambridge for a Master's in Screen Media and Cultures, specializing in animation.

He is in his final year of his doctoral thesis on the poetry of World War I at Royal Holloway, University of London, but currently lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. He is interested in alternative Japanese fashion, music, and cosplay. He also enjoys fencing, video games, and capoeira.


"An English schoolboy hones both wits and breaking-and-entering skills after the family butler enlists him for a series of dangerous secret missions. Oliver, 12-year-old scion of the head of Diplexito Engineering and Combustibles Ltd., is stunned to learn that the forbidding Mr. Scant is a mysterious burglar popularly known as the Ruminating Claw--for the bladed mechanical contraption he wears on one hand. This revelation is followed by mounting excitement as the white lad learns that Scant is really engaged in returning artifacts stolen from various museums by a secret group of would-be mages known as the Woodhouselee Society. Better yet, Scant wants him along to help! Ensuing nighttime outings to the British Museum and elsewhere give Oliver not only an eyeful of awesome martial feats from Scant, but heartening tests of his own previously untried courage as dust-ups with baddies led by cleaver-wielding giantess Valkyrie build to a climactic imbroglio featuring dirigibles (this is 1910, with some alterations) and a heavily armed "land ironclad." A last-minute ally named Cai Zhao-Ji and some of the aforementioned bad guys, who belong to the Asian Tri-Loom crime syndicate, are the only characters of color. Methods' fights are the sort in which there's always time for dialogue, combatants don't die or even bleed when they're wounded, and the deadliest adversary abruptly withers under a good scolding. The fight choreography needs work but otherwise, a promising debut and series opener."--Kirkus Reviews


"Tales of the Ruminating Claw--'this virtuoso of burglary'--grip all of England, including young Oliver. Imagine his shock when he discovers that the Claw is actually his father's gloomy valet, Mr. Scant. Mr. Scant explains that his actual goal is to return property stolen by the Woodhouselee Society, a secret group dedicated to exploiting democracy for financial gain and power. Scant takes on Oliver as an apprentice, transforming the boy's boring life into one of daring nighttime adventures. But can Oliver trust Mr. Scant? Is this all a ploy to improve his grades? Twists and intrigue abound, culminating in a frenetic climax featuring a dirigible, a blunderbuss, an ironclad, and slightly more characters than the reader can track. The writing is formal but clever, embracing robust vocabulary without feeling pedantic. However, the characters and motives never fully form, with little evidence supporting the claim that Oliver is timid. First in a planned series, the premise is appealing. With a tighter plot and richer characters, future installments will shine."--Booklist


"Oliver Diplexito leads a rather boring life in his large English home filled with servants. However, the moment he discovers a member of the household staff, Mr. Scant, is not quite as dull as he once seemed, Oliver's life suddenly turns upside down. Throughout London's museums, valuable treasures are being stolen, and Scotland Yard can't catch the thief, who is known as the Ruminating Claw (his nickname originates from the large, blade-fingered claw he wears on one hand as he makes off with masterpieces. . . that he eventually returns). The Ruminating Claw's identity and purpose is a mystery to all, but Oliver soon uncovers part of the truth when he learns the thief is Mr. Scant. Oliver is unsure about what to do with this news, but his confusion is compounded when Mr. Scant urges him to meet late one night. Together, they break into the National Portrait Gallery to return a missing painting. Adventures around London continue for Oliver and Mr. Scant throughout the story. Rich vocabulary, Briticisms, and a complex plot make this selection most suitable for advanced young readers. VERDICT: Reminiscent of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer and Laura Marx Fitzgerald's Under the Egg, this is a unique spin on the heist novel that will appeal to sophisticated middle graders."--School Library Journal