The Grave Robber's Apprenticeby Allan Stratton
Harper, 2012. 275 pgs. Fiction
When a baby boy comes ashore in a bejeweled wooden chest with a royal crest rampant, Knobbe the Bent, a grave robber gloms right on for the gems' sake, but when he finds the baby in the chest, he decides to keep him to help him in his grim enterprise. Hans, as he is called, grows up with little skill in the grave robbing business because he can't stand the smell and the miscellaneous gooshiness, but he is a sturdy, loyal lad nonetheless who suddenly finds himself helping the young Countess Angela von Schwanenberg escape Archduke Arnulf and the terrible Necromancer all the while trying to rescue Angela's parents. Helped along the way by Peter the Hermit and his fellow monkish types, Hans and Angela make their way to the castle through multiple dangers using their talents (marionette craft?) and courage to save the day. Shakespearean references abound, as do puppets, theatrics, and some wonderful surprises, some of them a bit abrupt. Good fast reading for fifth grade on up.