Skip to Main Content
Book Clubbing


The Thief Lord 
by Cornelia Funke




Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke

Author Interview

About the Book

Running away seemed like a good idea at the time. Bo and Prosper's mother had told them all kinds of wonderful things about Venice, Italy. So when she dies, they think it's a pretty good idea to run away from Hamburg, Germany to Venice. After a difficult journey, they find a place with other homeless children who live in an abandoned theater. Their leader is the charming, slightly mysterious Scipio, known as the Thief Lord. Like Robin Hood, Scipio robs the rich to provide his poor friends with food and necessities. Scipio usually takes jewels, but he's hired to steal a most unusual item for a pawnbroker's wealthy client: a broken wooden wing. The wing is part of a magical carousel that has the power to change children into adults, and adults into children. During this adventure, secrets about the characters and their fantastic world are revealed. 

There's a lot of just about everything in this book: characters, setting and plot lines. An author with less skill may have had nothing more than a literary mess, but Funke blends everything together well, tying it with an element of fantasy. Mysteries and plot twists hide around every corner. The language is rich and the reader always gets a strong sense of setting without being beaten over the head with metaphors. Fans of Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl will love this fast-paced look into a beautiful, mysterious world. 

About the Author

Following a post-graduate course in book illustration at the Hamburg State College of Design, Cornelia Funke worked as a designer and illustrator of children’s books. But disappointment in the way some of the stories were told, combined with her desire to draw fantastic creatures and magical worlds rather than the familiar situations of school and home, inspired her to write her own stories. As a reader, Funke has always loved good fantasy, particularly such modern classics as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and J. M Barrie’s Peter Pan. Funke’s own success is now international, demonstrating the universal appeal – and power – of her storytelling. 

Thanks to a young Geman girl living in Britain, Funke was brought to the attention of Barry Cunningham, Publisher and Managing Director of the Chicken House, now an imprint of Scholastic. When the little girl demanded to know why her favorite author’s books were not available in English, Cunningham set about the task of tracking down Funke’s latest title at that time, Herr der Diebe. He published its English translation, The Thief Lord, and it immediately entered the New York Times bestseller list, where it climbed to the #2 position and spent more than twenty-five weeks. It also appeared on the USA Today bestseller list and won the prestigious Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the best translated children’s book of the year; the Book Sense Book of the Year Award; and many other accolades.

Funke followed up The Thief Lord with a string of enormously successful novels. Dragon Rider, her popular tale of a dragon’s search for home, has been read by more than a half million American children. Inkheart, the first title in her acclaimed trilogy, has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, and Oscar–winner Helen Mirren. Both Inkheart and its sequel, Inkspell, spent months on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered numerous awards. Inkdeath, the highly anticipated conclusion to the series, will be published in Fall 2008. For younger readers, Funke has also written the popular Ghosthunter series, Igraine the Brave, When Santa Fell to Earth, and such beloved picture books as The Princess Knight and Pirate Girl. To date, there are more than five million copies of her books in print in the United States alone. 

In 2005, Time magazine named Cornelia Funke among its “100 Most Influential Men and Women.” The author lives with her family in Los Angeles, California, in a house filled with books. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Prosper, Bo, and their friends are all orphans. But why do they all choose to live on their own? What are the advantages of their lifestyle? What are its potential dangers? What other options do they have? How was Ida raised when she was an orphan girl? 
  2. By the end of The Thief Lord, the characters have chosen different paths. Why did Mosca and Riccio ultimately turn down Ida's hospitality? Why did Barbarossa yearn to be adopted by Esther Hartlieb when Prosper and Bo wanted nothing to do with her? 
  3. Explore how Cornelia Funke integrates magic and fantasy into the real world setting of Venice.