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Who hasn't known the sickening, demoralizing feeling of beingfalsely accused? In The Real Thief, William Steig explores this injustice with the keen insight of a good psychologist and the skillful pacing of a brilliant storyteller. Gawain is a goose, a guard for the new Royal Treasury, and intensely loyal to the honey-scented, gruff, fatherly King Basil the bear: "He wanted to please him, to stay forever in his gruff, good graces. Everyone did. Basil was a popular king." The Royal Treasury consists of jewels, medallions, and precious crowns of historical interest--and the only creatures who have keys to the Treasury are Gawain and the King himself. One fateful day, Gawain discovers to his horror that the pile of rubies is smaller than it should be. He hurries to tell the King, and they both rush back to count them: "Sure enough, there were only 8,643 of the red gems when there should have been 8,672." Day after day, treasures continue to disappear, including the world-famous Kalikak diamond!The King is flummoxed. He calls a meeting of his Royal Cabinet, who finally persuade him that the thief must be his faithful Gawain, whom he loves like a son: "He sent his councilors away and slumped in his throne, dejected. Having listened to an opinion he didn't really believe but was forced to respect, he grew confused and fell into muddled ponderings." That very night Gawain is rousted out of bed at midnight and dragged to the castle dungeon. A trial is held a few days later, and the innocent goose is found guilty, his name disgraced forever. He hates the ones he had trusted and loved for seeing evil in him that isn't there, and he flies the coop before he can be locked away. The real thief? That is for the reader to discover. In this simple fable of justice, loyalty, friendship, and betrayal, Steig again manages to portray a reflection of life so heart-rendingly accurate it's uncanny. Children will be on the edge of their seats throughout this powerful, suspenseful tale, and visibly relieved by the happy, forgiving ending. (Ages 8 and older, excellent for reading aloud) --Karin Snelson
William Steig has carved out dual careers as both a highly respected and entertaining cartoonist and an award-winning, bestselling author of children?s picture books and novels. He won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, the Christopher Award for Dominic, and the Newbery Honor for both Abel?s Island and Doctor Desoto.
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“Steig’s captivating style and tongue-in-cheek humor bring to life an endearing set of animal characters with some extremely human foibles.”—Booklist “Impossible to resist.”—Kirkus Reviews “In this age of poorly thought out endings to books, it’s a treat to end with one of Steig’s many stunning last lines, this one from The Real Thief, which he singled out as his favorite among his books: ‘There was peace and harmony in the kingdom once again, except for the little troubles that come up every so often even in the best of circumstances, since nothing is perfect.’”—Los Angeles Times