“A person can be educated and still be stupid, and a wise man can have no education at all.”
These are the opening lines of The False Prince, the book Jonah handpicked for us to read before bedtime: “If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I’m not sure I ever had the choice. These were my thoughts as I raced away from the market, with a stolen roast tucked under my arm. I’d never attempted roast thievery before, and I was already regretting it. It happens to be very difficult to hold a chunk of raw meat while running. More slippery than I’d anticipated. If the butcher didn’t catch me with his cleaver first, and literally cut off my future plans, I vowed to remember to get the meat wrapped next time. Then steal it.” Jennifer Nielsen, young adult author, had me at roast thievery. Couldn’t help but think my boy Jones made an educated, wise choice for we three.
Sage, an orphan boy, is a smart, troublesome, brave sneak thief that may well endear you like the other thieves we love: Liesel Meminger, Robin Hood, and The Good Thief (to name a few). The stray boy ends up being a pawn in a cunning and dangerous plan. He and three other motherless children are forced to compete for the role of Prince of Carthya, as part of one regent’s deceptive scheme to gain power over the kingdom. If Sage is chosen, he will be a puppet to a ruthless conniver. If he loses, he will surely be put to death.
The False Prince was a page turner. Nielsen created action Tom Cruise would approve of—in fact, Jonah read the book with his class before it became our nighttime ritual. Still he pleaded with me to “read one more chapter.” And then another. And “just one more.” With the current push to get boys reading, Nielsen has served up a winner. (Not to worry, girls will love it too.) This fast-paced read has some twists that parents may see coming, but your kids will definitely be intrigued and surprised. I dare you not to fall in love with a roast stealing, clever, bold, principled young boy who, in no way would have chosen a life that may or may not involve inheriting a coveted throne.