The Thief of Worlds by Bruce Coville

The Thief of Worlds

Bruce Coville, Author

Random House, Fiction, Apr. 27, 2021

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Winds, Fantasy, Magic, Other worlds, Global disaster

Book Jacket Synopsis:

What happens when the wind stops? The air grows hot and still and hard to breathe. Hospitals fill with patients. The sky becomes hazy as dust clings to the air. The world begins to panic.

For Hurricane, the global disaster strikes at his core. He got his name because he was born during a hurricane, and he has always felt a strangely intense connection to the wind. And now his mother is one of the sick people in the hospital. But what can he do? He’s just a kid.

Then an old bearded man, Zephron Windlord, shows up from another world claiming he is in charge of making the wind. He seeks Hurricane’s help to find the wind thief and rescue the magical horn that will fix everything. In fact, the Windlord claims that Hurricane is the only one who can do it. Is he delusional? Can magic be real? And how can finding the magical horn rest on Hurricane’s twelve-year-old shoulders?

When all this turns out to be true, Hurricane embarks on the adventure of his life: a journey to different worlds where he will make friends unlike any people he has ever known. He will discover courage, strength, humor and ability to bring people together.

The classic epic fantasy from beloved author Bruce Coville will enthrall readers while it reminds them that magic lies in friendship — and that friendship just might have the power to save the world.

Why I like this book:

The Thief of the Worlds is a riveting, richly imagined epic tale of loyalty, bravery and friendship that will make your heart soar. It is an action-packed adventure with many complex plot twists that will keep readers guessing what will happen next. Then ending was a complete surprise. That’s a good story. 

The characters are rich, memorable and quirky. Hurricane is a 12-year-old Black boy from Chicago. His neighbors call him  “Breezeboy” and laugh about how he dances with the wind. So when the wind suddenly stops, he feels like he’s lost his best friend — until an odd bearded old man, Zephron Windlord, appears at his door and asks Hurricane to help  rescue a stolen horn that he uses to start the winds. Hurricane thinks he’s crazy, but travels with the Windlord to the top of the world on the back of a huge magical tiger with wide ebony wings. 

On Hurricane’s journey to find the horn, he enters different worlds. He meets Lura, the blue goddess of water, who is in search of a stolen basin from her world that has caused a drought; and Amberjon, a three-foot-tall man, who is seeking the lost spirit flame that lights and warms his frozen world. Together they realize that the environmental suffering everywhere is being caused by the same dangerous villain, so they join forces and search for him together.

Coville’s storytelling is brilliant and he amazingly builds four very unique worlds in a single novel. His writing is polished and his narrative will inspire readers to think about how friendship and listening to the pain of others may be the key to saving the world. 

Bruce Coville is the author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher Is an Alien and the wildly popular Unicorn Chronicles series. He has been a teacher, a toy maker, a magazine editor, a gravedigger, and a cookware salesman. He is also the founder of Full Cast Audio. Bruce lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, author and illustrator Katherine Coville.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

The Annual Monarch Migration Has Begun

 As a reporter many years ago, I used to write about the annual migration of the monarch butterfly from Canada over Lake Erie around mid-September to mid-October.  They fly 2,000 to 3,000 miles to an overwintering area in Mexico’s Sierra Madre.  I was fortunate to visit a family in Lake County who observed the massive one-day migration of thousands of monarch butterflies to their northeastern farm.  The butterflies  landed on the trees of their farm the same day each year for over 40 years.  The butterflies clustered so closely together that they looked like Christmas tree ornaments as they clung for one night to the leaves, branches and to each other.  It was a spectacular sight!  So in honor of these beautiful creatures of nature, I share with you Bruce Coville’s picture book for children.

The Prince of Butterflies, is written by Bruce Coville and illustrated by John Clapp for kids of all ages.  It is a very beautiful story complimented by its wistful and colorful illustrations.  I happily discovered  Coville’s work of fiction during the annual Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in August.  Because of my interest in the monarch migration, I knew his book belonged to me.

One morning, 11-year-old John Farrington, walked out his front door to a great surprise.  Monarch butterflies covered the side of his home like a carpet, clusters decorated the porch railing, lawn chairs, the family car and his yard.  It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.   Afraid of scaring the butterflies, he walked into the yard and quietly sat on the ground.  Slowly, butterflies landed upon his foot, his arm and his shoulder.  John sensed something unusual happening.  Suddenly he heard the fluttering voices of thousands of butterflies crying out “help.”   Closing his eyes he wondered “how and why?”  As the butterflies came to him, he saw the image of a meadow.  They whispered “We’ve lost the path home.”

John realized that the meadows that the butterflies used to feed and rest upon, were gone.  In the place of the green fields was a new shopping mall.  He realized the butterflies needed a new resting place.  He remembered a meadow that had been untouched by bulldozers.  The butterflies want to be taken there.  Befuddled, John wonders”how?”  And, in that instant something miraculous happened to John.  He is transformed into a butterfly and his life is altered for ever.

Coville does an outstanding job of combining fiction with ecology.  I believe a major reason I like his book so much, is that I have often wondered about the changing habitat and how it may impact the monarch migration.  I’ve wondered if the farm I visited years ago is still there with its abundant fields and trees to welcome these weary travelers.   There is about a 60-mile stretch a long Lake Erie where they rest after their journey over the lake.   In northeast Ohio, the butterflies can be observed at Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve in Mentor.