Looking for a good middle-grade adventure this summer for you and your kids? LOOT by Jude Watson should be at the top of your list. Jude knows this territory well. Not only does she write beautiful prose worthy of the National Book Award (which she won, writing as Judy Blundell). She also understand what kids want in a fast-paced action story. She has written numerous novels set in the Star Wars universe, and is also a veteran of the 39 Clues, which I was lucky enough to be part of.
Still, none of that prepared me for the fantastic thrill ride of LOOT.
Imagine your dad is the world's most notorious jewel thief, Alfie McQuin. You live on the run, traveling from heist to heist, never attending school but learning all sorts of other skills -- how to bluff at poker, how to blend into crowds, how to con someone out of their money, how to pick any lock. Sound fun?
That's life for twelve-year-old March McQuin, until one night in Amsterdam when his dad falls from a roof (or was he pushed?) and lies dying on the cobblestones at March's feet. Alfie's last words seem to be a riddle: "Wait one month. Find jewels. Follow falls to day. No!"
Soon March is plunged into a dangerous search to find out what his dad was up to, and who might have killed him. He is reunited with a twin sister -- Jules, not jewels! -- whom he never knew he had. Together they race to find the secrets of Alfie McQuin's biggest, unfinished heist, but they're pursued by a crooked cop, a sinister old heiress, and many others who will do anything to stop them. Who can they trust? Can they even trust each other? The stakes are clear: If they succeed, they'll be set for life. If they fail, they'll be dead.
So many things I love about this book: the ultra-short chapters that keep you turning pages, the pitch-perfect dialogue, the supporting characters Darius and Izzy, the humor, the action, the twists and turns. Cursed jewels, a dangerous prophecy, a crash course in the history of thievery, acrobatics and grift . . . this is LOOT you can take to the bank. It's the perfect summer read for kids (or adults who like kids' books!). LOOT will be published June 24, but order your copy now!