the keepers: the musuem of thieves, lian tanner (A&U)
the kids of jewel are not wrapped in cotton wool, they are kept chained to their parents or to the blessed guardians who are their teachers during the day. goldie roth - our heroine - is an uncharacteristically bold child, frustrated by her shackles and desperate to be 'separated'...and her separation day is approaching! but poor goldie, midway through her separation ceremony (she is connected only by a ribbon to her fretting mother) a bombing on the town's outskirts freaks the bejeezus out of the adults and they hastily decide they've been too hasty at letting the children off their chains. chain them back up!
goldie is not having a bar of it, she's had enough. with a secret pair of scissors secreted about her person (pinched from one of the blessed guardians) she cuts her ribbon and pegs it out the door. the wide, wild world frightens goldie - once so full of bravado she becomes so terrified by, and ignorant of, everything to the point of almost being run over by a road train and potentially savaged by a brizzlehound - and she starts to regret her actions pretty quickly. but there is no going back and she winds up being taken in by the strange but friendly folk at the tres bizarre museum of dunt (the only place in jewel not policed by the blessed guardians) where goldie finds a haven - albeit a rather dangerous haven where her complete inability to do anything practical soon changes under the guidance of the commandering olga ciavolga, the lovely sinew, herro dan and, more reluctantly, by toadspit who is a runaway like goldie herself.
goldie's 'education' was a particular joy to read - and how i wish i could master some of her accomplishments. particularly the talent of fading into invisibility and camouflage. the museum of dunt is spectacular. it's magic, with shifting rooms that create a maze for those who don't understand the museum's charms - and protect a terrible, horrible, dangerous dangerous force that lies behind a pair of gates at the museum's heart. a dangerous force that is champing at the bit thanks to the nefarious plans of the evil fugleman of jewel...
this one reminded me of sally rippin's fairly recent post about childhood freedom - read it here. and i recalled the day i was allowed to walk to school by myself (we only lived about 800 metres straight up the road) and i must have been in grade two or three and i remember feeling gleeful and proud and rawther free. i feel like i remember my parents telling me a few years later that, in actual fact, my dad followed me at a clandestine distance to ensure i was not katenapped or roadkilled. this put a damper on my glee a bit.
reading this from an adult perspective, the keepers really does explore quite sophisticated ideas, such as terrorism, the police state and fear. i really want to hear a child's perspective on this one. i love the germanic folk tale feel to it (definitely german influences in there: herro dan, frow oster) and it's a beautiful and exciting read. i think goldie and tensy farlow would get along damn well.
lian tanner's interweb home is here.