Title: She Thief
Author: Daniel Finn
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, child schooling and work, wealth, incentives, development, property rights
Review: Baz and her friend Demi have spent virtually all of their young lives living in utter destitution, with petty theft as their only means of survival. With no parents to care for them, they both wound up, in very different ways, under the care of a young, hardened woman named Fay. In exchange for the spoils of their pickpocketing, Fay has provided Baz, Demi, and a few other child thieves with what passes for shelter, food, and companionship. Although Fay could be cruel, these children had no one else and they called their squalid den home.
Their lives in the Barrio changed dramatically when Demi and Baz stole a precious blue ring from a woman who they later discovered was the wife of the police chief. All of a sudden, Fay and her gang of thieves had caught the unwanted attention of not only the police, but also the Barrio's crime lord and a rich young man who had a startling connection to Fay. How could two children escape from a web of crime and deceit when the Barrio's most powerful players intended only to use them as pawns in their frightening game?
The plot, which starts out deceptively simple, quickly draws in the reader with evermore intriguing new characters and events. Skillfully woven into this gritty novel about compassion and corruption are an important set of economics themes related to poverty and incentives. The book has heart and will make readers think about what it takes for children to survive in and escape from the slums.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children