The Prairie Thief Book Review - fantasy for elementary and middle grade
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The Prairie Thief Book Review


It’s time for another book review!

The Prairie Thief is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time. I got the book out from the library a few times but never made it a priority to read until recently.

Also, I want to note: the first time I took the book out from the library I didn’t realize it was fantasy – somehow I totally missed the little guy on the cover!

I have heard people describe this book as Little House on the Prairie with a fantasy twist but I wouldn’t agree with that at all. I would say it’s more Anne of Green Gables or A Little Princess with a fantasy, Spiderwick Chronicles-esq twist.

I’m going to share a short summary of the book, some of my thoughts about it and who I would recommend it for.


The Prairie Thief Book Review - fantasy for elementary and middle grade



The Prairie Thief is set in Kansas in 1882 and follows Louisa Brody who has temporarily been sent to live with her closest neighbor (the Smirches) since her father has just been accused of, and arrested for, stealing (from the very neighbors she is sent to live with).

Louisa is adamant her father is not a thief and is determined to figure out who the guilty one is so she can save him from hanging. Unfortunately the Smirches don’t make life easy on her while she is with them. And while she is trying to uncover the truth she soon learns that things aren’t what they appear on the surface. And once she knows who the guilty party is she still isn’t sure how to clear her father’s name.



MEMORABLE CHARACTERS – each of the characters in the story are memorable in their own way, Melissa Wiley does a good job of making it clear which characters we should like and which we should be wary of (even the name Smirches sounds like a bad character, doesn’t it?!).

A DEVELOPING CHARACTER – Louisa is not a perfect child by any means but I appreciate her attempts to control herself and continue to grow. The inner chats she has with herself, especially faced with a not-so-nice person, are a great example for children who struggle with self control.


The Prairie Thief Book Review - fantasy for elementary and middle grade


GOOD WORK ETHIC – I suppose this being set in the 1800’s has something to do with it but this is another great example for children these days, Louisa has a number of daily chores, especially being the “woman” of the house, and she does them without complaining.

BIBLE & POETRY REFERENCES – of course almost homeschool parent will appreciate the fact that Louisa’s father’s two books are the Bible and a book of poetry. Louisa enjoys poetry and if you have children who are a little hesitant in this area this book may help spark some interest in that area.



HARSH CHARACTERS – the Smirch’s, who Louisa goes to live with, are a quite harsh family, especially the mother, I would say she may fall on the side of abusive. I know a lot of families who read this blog are foster parents and/or adoptive parents and I just want to point this out if it is a trigger for your child. Not that you shouldn’t read it, but it may be something you discuss as you read through the book. For most children, who have grown up in loving families, this is a good example of a poorly run home and it may be interesting to point out that back in 1882 people let parents parent how they wanted to, without getting involved themselves or other involved like they do now.



I think this book would be a great read aloud for elementary aged children and a great independent read for 8-12 year olds. Since the main character is a girl I do think it will appeal more to girls but I think the subject is equally interesting for boys so I am hoping to read it aloud to my 6 & 8 year old this summer.


If you’ve read this book before I would love to hear your thoughts!


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