The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story

review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story [node:content-type] Poster Image
Intrepid tweens hunt down kidnappers in intriguing mystery.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Different kinds of knots briefly explained and uses for a few briefly described.

Positive Messages

You can't control how people and events make you feel, but you can control what you do with those feelings, and you can choose to use them for good or bad. Working together you can accomplish more than you think you're capable of. It's good to be curious and have an adventurous love of exploring, but always keep safety in mind, make sure an adult caregiver knows where you are, and have a backup plan if things go wrong.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marzana, who's about 12, is an introvert and has some social anxiety that she's learning to cope with, and even develops good leadership skills. She and her group of five friends model loyalty, bravery, and using their individual skills to help each other and accomplish their mission. Responsible adults are present, and strong family bonds are modeled.

Violence

Main plot involves investigating a kidnapped girl; there's some fear about what might happen to her. A confrontation with the bad guys involves holding a knife to someone's throat, slamming someone into a locker, and a hard kick in the stomach. Otherwise, there are some slightly eerie locations and occasional mild peril. An important character is a ghost, which is treated more like an oddity or superpower and not as something to be afraid of.

Sex

A couple of mild romantic dynamics from a kiss on the cheek, blushing, and squeezing hands.

Language

"Hell," "damn," "crap," and occasional mentions that someone swore without providing the actual words.

Consumerism

One mention of Tootsie Roll candies.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults have wine with dinner; one adult is offered beer. Background smoking mentioned once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Thief Knot is a standalone mystery-adventure story set in the world of author Kate Milford's Greenglass House series. Reading the other books isn't necessary, but some characters from them appear here. The main plot involves middle school kids investigating the kidnapping of a girl their age, and there are a few moments of fearful speculation about what could happen to her. The only other violence is in a confrontation with the bad guys with a knife to the throat, slamming against a locker, and a hard kick in the stomach. There are some mildly eerie locations as well as a lot of whimsical ones. A kiss on the cheek and squeezing hands are the only instances of romance. Adults drink wine with dinner, and there's one mention of a background character smoking. Strong language is very rare but includes "crap," "hell," and "damn." The group of kids model teamwork, loyalty, and using your unique talents to help the group. Strong messages include how to explore and pursue an adventure safely.

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What's the story?

In THE THIEF KNOT, Marzana and her best friend Nialla moan about how nothing every happens, even though their town is a haven for outlaws. But when police officers come to ask Marzana's parents for help finding a kidnapped girl, the two friends feel they finally have the opportunity for an adventure that really matters. To find the missing girl, they'll need to assemble a crack team including a magician, an expert lock picker, a codebreaker -- oh yeah, and a ghost. When almost nothing and no one turn out to be what they seem, the kids soon learn that they'll have to unravel mysteries from the past as well as the present if they hope to catch the kidnappers.

Is it any good?

This standalone mystery set in the wonderfully oddball Greenglass House world is full of intrigue, puzzlement, colorful characters, and a clever plot that moves along nicely. The Thief Knot brings back old friends that fans of the series will enjoy spending time with again, while at the same time introducing a very interesting new bunch worthy of further exploration. Mystery and adventure lovers who haven't read any of the previous books will have no trouble fully immersing themselves in this refreshing new story. Tweens will easily relate to the characters and root for Marzana as she tries to help solve a crime while battling social anxiety.

The opening is a little slow, spending too much time on complaints about how nothing exciting ever happens when the reader knows good and well that something amazing is going to happen, or else what are all the rest of these pages in the book for? But hang in there until the adventure starts, and you'll be quickly absorbed in an inventively whimsical and slightly off-kilter world. There's not much imagined folklore in this story, which, compared with the other Greenglass books, makes it feel just a bit less rich. But it's a deeply imagined and vividly described world that stands up well on its own.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Marzana's anxiety in The Thief Knot. How does she cope? Does she become a good leader? What are her character strengths and weaknesses?

  • Have you read any of the other Greenglass House books? How does this one compare? If you haven't read them, would you like to now?

  • What do Marzana and her friends learn about exploring the unknown while staying safe? How can you be safe and responsible while following your own sense of adventure or curiosity?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and ghost stories

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