Stealing Magic: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure, written by Marianne Malone with illustrations by Greg Call, 246 pp, RL 4

Stealing Magic : A 68 Rooms Adventure is now in paperback! 
And Book 3, The Pirate's Coin is out!

The magic (and miniatures) continue to abound in Marianne Malone's newest Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure, Stealing Magic, again with wonderful illustrations by Greg Call. The excitement of finding Mr Bell's missing photographs and the gala opening night for the exhibition of his long lost masterpieces is barely a memory when Ruthie Stewart and her best friend Jack discover a visit to the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago is in order again. On their last adventure, Sixty-Eight Rooms, the two left Jack's bento box with a note in it in the Japanese Room and Ruthie is beginning to think this might have been a bad idea. That, along with the glowing warmth that indicates the magic that stems from Christina, Duchess of Milan, that emanates from a beaded bag that Mrs McVittie, antiques dealer and family friend to the Stewarts. When Ruthie and Jack return to remove the note they find that someone has written a reply! On top of that, they learn that a thief has been stealing artwork from Chicago residents. This seems like an odd coincidence when the two discover that miniature items are missing from the Thorne Rooms as well.

In her second book, Malone creates a greedy (but not too threatening) criminal in Pandora Pommeroy, an art student and burgeoning interior designer who has stumbled on to a little bit of the magic of the Thorne Rooms while stealing from them. Ruthie and Jack know that certain items animate each room with the magic that Christina imbued in them, allowing visitors to move beyond the interior of the room and travel through time by walking from the room into the outside world, a place that seems nothing more than a painted diorama to someone on the outside looking in. In Sixty-Eight Rooms Ruthie and jack had the chance to meet the aristocratically born Sophie Lacombe and are able to warn her of the coming revolution that will tear France apart. In Stealing Magic, the two find themselves in Paris, 1937, with a new friend, Louisa Meyer. Louisa and her family have moved to Paris from Berlin, where Hitler's new laws were making life unlivable for them. After returning to her normal size and home, Ruthie, with the help of the more history-minded Jack, learns that they Meyers are not safe in Paris either. Desperate to return to the Thorne Rooms and warn Louisa, Ruthie finds she is up against a determined thief in the form of Ms Pommeroy. How Ruthie and Jack stop Ms Pommeroy, locate the missing miniatures and return the magic to the rooms while at the same time racing against the clock to warn Louisa is a new adventure that readers of the first book will surely enjoy.

Marianne Malone's books have a special place in my life. After reading  Sixty-Eight Rooms I sent it on to my niece, who was eight at the time. She read the book and loved it so much that her mother bought her the catalog for the rooms, Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago by Fannia Weingartner. As her ninth birthday approached (and her love of American Girl Dolls grew) she and her mom planned an all-girls trip to Chicago to see the rooms (and the dolls) in person, with  Sixty-Eight Rooms,  Stealing Magic, her Grandmother and Aunt in tow. We had a fantastic weekend and, while I happen to remain very fond of dolls (yes, I brought my very own AG doll on the trip with me) the highlight of the trip for me was returning to the Thorne Rooms (with Marianne Malone's books in tow) and seeing them through the eyes of my niece. It was also a kick to see Malone's book at the information desk in the Thorne Rooms as well as in the gift shop. Thank you, Ms Malone, for helping to make such a special, memorable birthday bash for my niece and myself!

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