Title: The Thief Who Sang Storms
Written by: Sophie Anderson
Illustrated by: Joanna Lisowiec
Published by: Usborne Publishing
Sophie Anderson’s imagination and beautiful descriptions bring the world and characters alive. Like her other books The Thief Who Sang Storms was inspired by Slavic folklore in particular, the Russian folk poem, The First Journey of Ilya Muromets featuring Nightingale the Robber. The book is set on the floating island of Morovia which itself was inspired by Buyan, an island from a Slavic folktale. Sophie builds a vivid world in this book of bravery and determination when everything looks bleak.
The population of Morovia consist of the humans and the alkonists, who are bird-like people with hollow bones and feathers instead of hair and each can perform their own unique form of magic with their singing. They have been divided by a terrible tragedy – singing magic created a storm that sunk the ship the king and queen were on. Now the humans live on one side of the island the most of the alkonists have been forced to leave their homes to live in the Mournful Swamp or have been sentenced to work in the Keep.
The story is told in first person from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old alkonist called Linnet. Her mother died on the ship that sunk. Linnet has been thrown into adulthood where she has had to learn to survive and has become a parent-figure to her grieving father. Her only friends are Lumpy a three-legged toad and a swamp-rat called Whiskers. They go everywhere with her.
I was hooked by her quest to save her father and reunite the alkonists and humans. I also like that we got a brief glimpse of the House with the Chicken Legs in Linnet’s dream-like scene. The whole book is interspaced with flashbacks about her mother and her friendship with a human she knows as Hero. These nostalgic flashbacks sometimes slowed the pace of an otherwise fast-past adventure.
The Thief Who Sang Storms deals sensitively with issues of grief and how it effects people differently. I think it is a great book to read to a class in the book corner, or to a child before bed. I would recommend this book to fluent readers at Key Stage Two and Three.