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Stolen

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Overview

The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of...
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Overview

The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head:

Old as dirt,

dirty as dirt.

Ugly as sin,

mean as sin.

Don’t let the old witch catch you!

Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Isabelle is born twelve years old and running. Running through a forest. From what? A pack of hunting dogs. Treed and injured by the dogs, Isabelle must confront her amnesia. Was she stolen by a witch at birth as the bigoted little village she finds herself within believes? Why does she feel uncomfortable with the family who welcomes her as their long-lost daughter? Why can she not get that old taunt, "Ugly as sin . . . Don't let the old witch catch you!" out of her mind? Watching the situation unfold through Isabelle's fragmentary stream-of-consciousness point of view, one cannot help but root for the defenseless heroine as she tries to work out her past and save her future. Vivian Vande Velde is very good, indeed, at her favorite genre, creating a tight little horror story that opens and builds with Isabelle's bits and pieces of returning memory. The book is a fast, easy, and suspenseful read that should tempt kids to upgrade from R. L. Stein. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
VOYA
A girl runs through the forest. As she runs, she realizes she has no memories prior to running. She remembers running, although not why she is running or from whom or where she is trying to go. Nor does she know her name. Dogs begin chasing her and later she is found hiding in a tree. She is surrounded by dogs but is rescued by their owners who take her in and care for her bitten leg. From there, gossip travels until it reaches another couple who rejoice, believing that she is their daughter, Isabelle, who was kidnapped by a witch six years ago. They come and take her away to a new life filled with expectations and danger. Readers are left to fill in the blanks and figure out the clues to discover the girl's real identity. It is strange that the author starts referring to the character as Isabelle before the lost parents even enter the tale. The mystery of the kidnapped daughter fuels readers to discover the truth behind the family and the reasons for their odd behavior. The cover produces a spooky atmosphere that will make readers curious. Vande Velde creates a new twist on a fairy tale complete with evil sisters and filled with suspense, danger, and a longing for home.--Jennifer Rummel.
VOYA - Jennifer Rummel
A girl runs through the forest. As she runs, she realizes that she has no memories prior to running. She remembers running, although not why she is running or from whom or where she is trying to go. Nor does she know her name. Dogs begin chasing her and later she is found hiding in a tree. She is surrounded by dogs but is rescued by their owners who take her in and care for her bitten leg. From there, gossip travels until it reaches another couple who rejoice, believing that she is their daughter, Isabelle, who was kidnapped by a witch six years ago. They come and take her away to a new life filled with expectations and danger. Readers are left to fill in the blanks and figure out the clues to discover the girl's real identity. It is strange that the author starts referring to the character as Isabelle before the lost parents even enter the tale. The mystery of the kidnapped daughter fuels readers to discover the truth behind the family and the reasons for their odd behavior. The cover produces a spooky atmosphere that will make readers curious. Vande Velde creates a new twist on a fairy tale complete with evil sisters and filled with suspense, danger, and a longing for home. Reviewer: Jennifer Rummel
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–A 12-year-old girl is running through the woods with no memory of who she is or why she is running. Her identity is up for speculation throughout the book: Is she a princess? An animal turned into a human? The missing daughter of a couple in the village? All of these possibilities seem to revolve around an old witch who escaped the village mob with a baby the same day the girl appeared in the woods. The woman and her husband are convinced that the girl is their missing Isabelle, taken from the village by the witch six years earlier, but their older daughter, Honey, is skeptical and even hostile in her reaction. As the tale unfolds, some even suspect that the youngster is actually a creation of the old hag who was sent for evil purposes, and Isabelle wonders whether she really wants to know the truth. This is a solid fantasy and mystery that builds in intrigue and suspense as more layers are added to the story. The protagonist's true identity comes as a fantastic surprise and will have readers looking back for clues even as they shudder at the chain of events that brought about her appearance in the woods that fateful day. Like the witch, Vande Velde weaves a spell around her readers with this well-written tale.–Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761455158
  • Publisher: Amazon Childrens Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 158
  • Sales rank: 1,087,620
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Vivian Vande Velde's books have won many awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Never Trust a Dead Man. She is also the author of Ghost of a Hanged Man. She lives in Rochester, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    This book is absolutely AMAZING!

    This book is absolutely AMAZING!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Like a dark fairy tale

    I thought this book was good! I was expecting something different the book to be with more paranormal qualities. The cover was a bit deceiving in that aspect. However! I think the book is still worth the read!

    The plot has all the makings of a great fairy tale and there is a good amount of mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing. There is a neat little twist in the end of the book which I wasn't expecting and I enjoyed the ending.

    The characters are all right and Honey happens to be a downright dirty villain. She wasn't such a nice person to begin with anyway but what she reveals just makes her look awful and nasty. I'd have to say most of the characters have the making of a fairy tale, not one of the "classic" ones. It'll be a tale similar to the ones in the Grimm's fairy tales. It's darker, and the violent content is there, but enough to not make it overwhelming.

    Pick this book up for a quick light read, the story is good and will keep you guessing until the end. It's a perfect book for all ages. Don't let the cover fool you and if it's not what you expect, keep reading it anyway. You'll find it's worth the time.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    More intrigue than scare

    Let me start off by saying that this book is never as spooky as the cover would suggest. There may be an old witch, and there is certainly rampant speculation about said witch and what she might do out there all alone in the forest, but this book isn't about her. It's about Isabelle. Also, there is someone a lot more scary than a witch, but that person is scary in a much different way than what the cover advertises. This person inspires a slow build of scary rather than a jump out and grab you scary. I say this because I certainly wouldn't have picked this book up when I was in late elementary/early middle school (I was kind of a wimp), but I probably would have really loved the story inside.

    The girl who might be Isabelle gets thrown into a lot of drama, right from the get-go. She's bitten by a hunting dog that is looking for a witch. When she begins to recover from that, she has to tell the family that took her in that she remembers nothing about her own life. Just when she starts to come to terms with that, the folks who might be her family come to claim her. The newly stolen baby was their daughter as well. Their joy at having Isabelle back is tempered by worry about the baby. There is so much pain in this family; Isabelle wants to be their missing daughter, if only to allow them to avoid the pain of losing a daughter all over again. Then Isabelle meets Honey, possibly her older sister, and she can tell that whether Isabelle is the "real" Isabelle or not, Honey wants her family to have nothing to do with her.

    Isabelle has some memory; she knows how to spin wool and she knows she was never a princess, for example. She can still navigate the world she's found herself in, even if she has no idea what her place is in it. Maybe because, at least in her head, she has no history with the people around her, she sees things about them that the rest of the village may not. She feels sorry for the mother and father (hers?) who have love two daughters to the witch, but she can see, where others do not, that this desperation to have Isabelle back isn't just the grasping hope of grieving parents. She can see that the rich aunt after whom Isabelle was named is lonely and desperate to have her namesake back. She sees that Honey isn't just suspicious of her, never believing her to be the true Isabelle, but that she doesn't believe that the "real" Isabelle is capable of coming back at all. And she sees that Avis, the woman who initially took her in, doesn't trust the lot of them. These insights don't always seem to help Isabelle figure things out as quickly as she should, but they are more interesting than simple, wide-eyed wonder at that is new around her.

    There's a lot of intrigue in this little village that Isabelle must decipher if she's going to figure out who she really is. When it does finally come back to her, it all comes back in a rush (I mean for her. The writing isn't rushed). The ending is unbelievably clever. I had to rush back and reread the prologue to make sure it all fits together, because it is certainly not what I was expecting. It's awesome; I highly recommend it.


    Book source: Philly Free Library

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    A girl runs through the forest. As she runs, she realizes she has no memories prior to running. She remembers running, although not why she is running or from whom or where she is trying to go. Nor does she know her name.

    As she starts to question her identity, dogs come after her. She dashes up a tree and stays there until she's rescued by their owners, who take her in and care for her. Her lost memories become fuel for gossip as they attempt to help her uncover her identity.

    One couple believes she could be their daughter, who was kidnapped by a witch six years ago. They come and take her away to a new life filled with expectations and danger.

    Readers are left to fill in the blanks and figure out the clues to discover the girl's real identity. The cover produces a spooky atmosphere that will make readers curious. Vande Velde creates a new twist on a fairy tale complete with evil sisters and filled with suspense, danger, and a longing for home.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Short book but very engaging...

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it in one day. The story reminded me of a fairy tale about the "ugly witch". My eleven year old daughter also read this book and she enjoyed it as well. We will definitely be going back to get more books by this author.

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  • Posted April 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Stolen Has Feel of a Classic Fairy Tale

    This is the first book of Velde's I have read and I found myself enjoying the story line. Isabelle is a young girl who has no memory of who she is. The story begins with Isabelle running in the forest with a pack of hunting dogs tight on her heels. Just when she thinks the dogs will be the death of her, she pulled into unconsciousness. Then she awakens she finds she has been taken in by a peasant family - Avis and Browley - and their young daughter, Ravyn.

    Ravyn is a six year old who is determined Isabelle was a Princess stolen away by the legendary witch from the forest. Apparently this witch has been stealing away young children for many years - the children are never seen or heard from again. Ravyn enjoys weaving a new life for Isabelle out of her curious imagination.

    Just when Isabelle is starting to feel comfortable with the peasant family, another family appears, claiming she is their daughter who was stolen away six years earlier. This poor family had recently has a second child stolen away, a newborn only one months old. The mother is determined that the young girl is her daughter, Isabelle, but the oldest daughter, Honey, is convinced this girl is not her long lost sister.

    But all is not what it seems with Isabelle's "supposed" family and she begins to wonder if they are claiming her in order to gain an inheritance from a rich aunt, whom Isabelle is named after.

    This book has a happy ending, but not the ending I was anticipating. Just when I thought I knew how the story would end, Velde gives the story an unusual twist.

    This small book - 158 pages - was a different kind of young adult book and I read it in one sitting. Not your normal young adult fantasy book, this story is more along the lines of the wonderful fairy tales I read as a child. Stolen has increased my desire to read other books by Vivian Vande Velde.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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