Reviews /

Crook Haven: The School for Thieves

Authored by J J Arcanjo
Illustrated by Euan Cook
Published by Hachette Children's Group

Crook Haven: The School for Thieves: Gabriel is chosen to attend Crook Haven, a school where young criminals are trained to use their skills to help others. This thrilling adventure story hooks the reader from the first chapter as Gabriel and his friends meet challenges and surprises.

Crook Haven: The School for Thieves is an original and compelling adventure story. The reader is gripped from the start by the exploits of Gabriel and the friends he meets at his new school. Gabriel is lonely and struggling with life until he is chosen by Caspian to attend a secret school. Once at the school Gabriel meets a range of intriguing characters and becomes involved in fun and also difficult challenges. All the children are young criminal experts and at Crook Haven they are taught to develop and manage their skills with the intention of benefitting society rather than causing harm. He attends lessons such as ‘lock-picking’ and ‘crim-nastics’, making friends with young forgers and technical geniuses.  He begins to learn about his own past and how to use his skills effectively. The familiar themes of boarding school providing friends and fulfilment are effectively explored. There are also enemies to be found and sinister characters to avoid. The story reaches a satisfying conclusion with some threads still to unravel and explore in ensuing titles.

JJ Arcanjo’s story has a strong moral core. All the students are chosen because their crimes are committed to help others. The themes of friendship, bullying, difference and mutual support are explored in positive ways. This is a book for confident readers of about 9+. It is also a book that would be very exciting to read to a class and would generate many discussions about morals and friendships. This was a very exciting story to read and I struggled to put it down! I am excited by the prospect of further titles in the series and think that young readers will want to add them to their collections.