CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 7. . . .October 19, 2012
Robbers! True Stories of the World's Most Notorious Thieves. (It Actually Happened).
Andreas Schroeder. Illustrated by Rémy Simard.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2012.
168 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-440-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-441-0 (hc.).
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.
If the night guard employed by the Monarch Bay Shopping Mall in the prosperous California town of Laguna Niguel had been doing his job, he might have noticed them: four men in a 1962 Oldsmobile Super 88, slowly circling the mall's branch of the United California Bank on the night of March 17, 1972. It was almost midnight, and the only sign of life at the mall was the rapidly blinking neon "Bar" sign above the restaurant a short distance north of the bank. There were still a few cars in the restaurant's parking lot, but the guard was nowhere to be seen.
And the men in the car? Turns out they were robbers, sizing up their next big heist.
Robbers tells the stories of eight famous robbers and robberies, including D.B. Cooper and the Great Train Robbery. Each chapter focuses on one robber or robbery and includes why targets were chosen, how the robberies were committed, and how they were solved, regardless of if the robbers were caught (most were).
Robbers features an interesting selection of robbers and robberies. Some, like D.B. Cooper and the Great Train Robbery, will be well known to a wide variety of readers. Others, like the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 and Willie Sutton (aka The Actor) will not be as familiar to many readers.
In addition to describing their major crimes, Robbers contains a lot of information about how the featured robbers worked. From the details of Amil Dinsio's bank vault jobs to the variety of disguises used by Willie Sutton, readers will be fascinated by the lengths some criminals will go to pull off the perfect robbery.
Robbers is very well-written book that is quite enjoyable to read. While a lot of information about the featured robbers is covered in a relatively small amount of space, it is presented in a way that will not overwhelm readers. Often, reading Robbers feels more like reading a good mystery story than reading a non-fiction book. This will help get more readers interested in the book.
Each chapter has one or more black and white graphics form part of the main narrative rather than simply illustrating the described events. Readers will enjoy the graphic sections, but the way those same sections are presented can break up the flow of the narration, especially when the graphic is only part of a page. However, the graphics do enhance the story by presenting illustrations of the events.
Robbers has a good, if short, bibliography. While more sources are always nice, especially when multiple robbers are featured, the bibliography will provide interested readers with good sources to learn more about the highlighted robbers.
Robbers is a fascinating and informative look at eight famous robbers and robberies around the world that will be enjoyed by many different readers.
Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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