Cherry, Alison The Classy Crooks Club, 322 pgs. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $16.99. Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG. (Dangerous situations)
When AJ’s parents go on a field study in Brazil, 12-year-old AJ is left with her rich eccentric grandmother for a month. Grandma Jo is very strict with lots of rules. There’s a whole wing of the house AJ is forbidden to enter, so of course she breaks into an “off-limits” room and discovers a collection of exotic birds. Turns out, AJs grandmother and her “bridge club” are secretly burglars who “liberate” abused or neglected animals. Now that AJ knows, the old ladies invite her to help them. So she gets training in stealth and lockpicking.
This story is full of stereotypical characters (the pretty, wealthy mean girl, the best friend with a heart of gold, the handsome chauffeur), the grandmother is a bit of an anachronism, wearing black dresses with high collars and using a black lace handkerchief. The old lady crime gang is a bit improbable and borders on the ridiculous - they keep hinting at the backstory of one of them, which is the only reason the twist at the end makes any sense at all. The teen angst story (best friend is jealous) is predictable. Overall, a very girl read with questionable ethical content.
EL - OPTIONAL Lisa Librarian