April 4th, 2016 by Kidsmomo
Imagine you’re living with your grandmother for the summer — but she’s not the awesome kind of grandma who bakes you cookies every day and always wants to give you hugs and presents. No, you have to live with a grandmother who wants you to behave “properly” all the time and even give up your favorite activities (like skateboarding) if she doesn’t deem them acceptable.
If you’re anything like AJ, the main character in The Classy Crooks Club by Alison Cherry, then that sounds like just about the worst summer ever. And at the beginning, it is. But then AJ discovers something shocking about her grandmother and the other elderly women who come to visit on a regular basis: They’re actually a heist club, intent on “liberating” other people’s possessions for their own motives.
The Classy Crooks Club is a really fun read. Overall, it’s a light-hearted caper with some definite suspense. But besides AJ’s training as a thief — ahem, “liberator” — there’s also a storyline about AJ’s misunderstandings with her best friend, which we can all identify with. In other words: something for everyone!
And if you think this book could be for you, then you’re in luck because the author is offering a signed copy for one lucky Kidsmomo reader! Just enter the book giveaway below — but first, check out our Q&A with the author herself:
We’ve read books where kids organize heists, but we’ve never seen a story about a group of old ladies who run a heist club — until now! Where did you get the idea for this book?
I often get ideas for books that have way too many moving parts and need to be split in half or don’t have nearly enough content and need to be combined. This book was an example of the first. My original idea was to write an epistolary novel between a girl at sleepaway camp and her best friend, who was living with her super-strict grandma for the summer and having a horrible time. I spent a weekend with some friends as that idea was percolating, and when someone said the words “old lady” and “pirate” in the same sentence, I suddenly thought, oh my god, what if the strict grandmother were a pirate?? But that didn’t seem quite right — I couldn’t see her on a ship — so I ended up making her a thief on dry land instead. That new twist gave me so many ideas for the grandmother story that I abandoned the epistolary plan altogether, and the sleepaway camp story became its own book. It’s called WILLOWS VS. WOLVERINES, and it comes out next year!
If you were going to “liberate” an item from someone else’s possession, what would it be?
If my living arrangements were equipped for such a thing, I would steal a platypus to keep as a pet. But I’m pretty sure a platypus wouldn’t be very happy in my Brooklyn apartment, so I’d steal a painting from a museum instead — maybe Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Cypresses,” or Toulouse-Lautrec’s “The Bed,” or Girodet’s “Endymion.” It would be such a delight to wake up every day and see them on my walls…
We have to ask: In the book, AJ has a fear of birds based on a traumatic run-in with a swan as a child. Did anything similar happen to you?
Nope! I actually like birds a lot, including swans — The Trumpet of the Swan was my favorite book as a kid. My only traumatic childhood run-in that still affects me today was with the movie E.T. I saw it when I was in kindergarten, and it terrified me so much that I still picture the scary scenes in great detail, despite not having seen it in almost 30 years. I guarantee I will never watch it again.
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Review copy and prizing provided by the author.