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The Theft & the Miracle
Cover of The Theft & the Miracle
The Theft & the Miracle
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On a cold, rainy day, ordinary Hannah Price stumbles into the cathedral and does something extraordinary—almost in a trance, she makes a perfect drawing of an antique carving of the Virgin and Child, capturing their every detail.

The next day the statue of the Child is taken from the Virgin's arms, and a few days later Hannah is interviewed by the police. Soon, strange things start happening to her. An odd man keeps appearing. The portrait she painted of her best friend, Sam, is vandalized. Is it all related to the theft? Hannah is determined to find the statue, even if it will take a miracle.

Rebecca Wade has crafted a thriller that will puzzle and provoke every reader until its stunning conclusion.

On a cold, rainy day, ordinary Hannah Price stumbles into the cathedral and does something extraordinary—almost in a trance, she makes a perfect drawing of an antique carving of the Virgin and Child, capturing their every detail.

The next day the statue of the Child is taken from the Virgin's arms, and a few days later Hannah is interviewed by the police. Soon, strange things start happening to her. An odd man keeps appearing. The portrait she painted of her best friend, Sam, is vandalized. Is it all related to the theft? Hannah is determined to find the statue, even if it will take a miracle.

Rebecca Wade has crafted a thriller that will puzzle and provoke every reader until its stunning conclusion.

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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.3
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    7 - 12

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Jacob Martin

    It was in early November that the news began to reach the city. Not that anybody took much notice at first. Life was hard enough here, with the scurvy, leprosy, food shortage, and crippling taxes following the recent disastrous harvest. There was no point in bothering with some new trouble, especially one so far away as Dorset.

    Then one mild, wet market day in the middle of the month, a peddler arrived from Gloucester with a sack of knives for sale. That evening he shared a flagon of wine and a salted herring pie with a little group of local tradesmen at the Black Bear on the corner of St. Peter's Street. They were glad to have a newcomer bringing tidings from another part of the country.

    But the news the peddler brought filled them with dread. A terrible sickness had attacked the southwest ports, and was spreading across the map of England like a dark and evil stain. Now it had reached Gloucester and was less than thirty miles off! There, the man told them, the churchyards overflowed with new graves, and there were not enough men left to bury the dead, who were either flung into great pits or left to rot where they lay, continuing to spread the fatal corruption even after life had departed.

    The peddler's story was soon widely known, and fear began its stealthy journey around the city walls. Strangers were no longer welcomed but treated with suspicion, or even turned away altogether. Neighbors became distrustful of one another. The city was no longer cheerful, bustling, noisy, but sullen, brooding, watchful.

    At last, one day at the beginning of December, a woman burst into the cathedral during Mass and begged the monks to come and bring the Sacrament to her dying husband. The monk chosen to accompany her took one look at the sick man and fled.

    That night the man died. The bishop ordered that his blackened and swollen corpse be buried secretly, by night, hoping that it was an isolated case and the people of the city might never know that they had harbored a victim of the Black Death. But within a week the monk who had fled began to shake with a high fever, and an ugly dark swelling appeared under his arm. Four days later he was laid to his final rest in the monks' cemetery. By the middle of that month eighteen more deaths had been reported, all bearing the horrifyingly unmistakable signs of the disease.

    Now the terrible plague was among them; it was no longer a vague rumor from a distant town but a hard fact, with freshly turned earth in the churchyard to prove it. Doctors were powerless to cure or prevent the infection, and the clergy were mostly too afraid for their own lives to give comfort to the sick and dying.

    One man was unaware of the fear and distrust spreading as rapidly as the disease itself, and this was because for four weeks he hadn't spoken to a single soul. Jacob Martin was old, sick, and gradually dying of starvation, but his eyes still burned as brightly as when he had been a young apprentice fifty years ago.

    Late one afternoon toward the end of December, he sat alone in the attic room of a half-timbered house in a narrow, evil-smelling alley that ran alongside the north wall of the monastery stables. It was bitterly cold in the room. He had no money for fuel; he had had barely enough for the single candle that inadequately lit his workbench, and when that burned down he would have nothing but the darkness and the numbing cold as companions. The need to finish the statues obsessed him. While he worked he forgot that he was hungry, that he was tired; he forgot everything except the task before him.

    At last he sat back, exhausted. Gouges, files, chisels, and rasps covered the scored and battered workbench; he didn't need...

About the Author-
  • Rebecca Wade was born in Worcestershire. The house in this story, Cowleigh Lodge, is based on her memory of the house where she grew up. Ms. Wade is a professional viola player, primarily with the Philharmonia Orchestra in England. She is also the author of The Theft & the Miracle. She has two grown children and lives in London.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 12, 2007
    Wade's first novel—part mystery, part fantasy—centers on 12-year-old Hannah Price, who "noticed things other people didn't and... knew how to draw them." One afternoon, she gives her raincoat to a fellow classmate just as a sudden thunderstorm erupts. Hannah seeks shelter in a cathedral famous for its 14th-century wooden carving of the Virgin and Child. As she begins to sketch the sculpture, Hannah's fingers tingle and her pencil "traveled with complete assurance." When she leaves the church, Hannah begins to sense an unexplained presence watching over her. Soon thereafter the infant is stolen out of the arms of the Virgin. Hannah learns that a witches' coven plans to burn the sculpture on Dec. 24th, the statue's anniversary, and she falls for a trap set by the thief. The story moves quickly and Hannah's personal challenges (she's overweight and suffers from acne) make her an accessible heroine, but the reason for Hannah being chosen as the statue's protector remains unclear. This is a more sophisticated mystery due to its references to witchcraft and strong historical and religious overtones (the Black Death, the angel Gabriel). Readers with a keen key for clues will discover them throughout the story. Ages 9-up.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2007
    Gr 5-9-Heavyset, plain Hannah Price lives an unremarkable life in southern England until she is caught up in circumstances surrounding the theft of a statue from the ancient cathedral that towers over the city. A teenager who struggles academically, Hannah only feels completely comfortable when she can lose herself in her artwork. The day of the theft, she ducks into the cathedral to escape a rainstorm and finds herself gripped by an unearthly talent as she draws an exact likeness of the Madonna and Child sculptures that have graced the cathedral for centuries. When the statue of the Christ Child is stolen that very day, the constable and others see much to suspect in her unusual behavior. As she and her friend Sam struggle to come up with answers, they quickly realize that they are up against a force darker than an ordinary thief. Wade skillfully blends the Black Death of the 14th century and other historical elements into a fascinating and well-paced story. Fully developed characters give the mystery an added depth, and the ways that Hannah and her parents deal with the grief of her brother's death when she was much younger provide intriguing undercurrents. A solid purchase for readers who enjoy intrigue with a dash of the supernatural."Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA"

    Copyright 2007 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • ALA Booklist

    "Wade has a terrific talent for characterization and description, her vivid detailing makes these places come alive."

  • Kirkus Reviews

    "A thrilling time."

  • School Library Journal

    "A fascinating and well-paced story...for readers who enjoy intrigue with a dash of the supernatural."

  • Publishers Weekly

    "Sophisticated mystery."

  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

    "Readers who relish a bit of otherworldly danger may wish to join Hannah and Sam."

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    HarperCollins
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