When their parents steal a monkey from the zoo to help them pick pockets, our heroes rush into action and return the wily animal using disguises, inventions, and old-fashioned shoe leather. They also learn what a monkey can do in 11 minutes: 1) Stick his fingers in your right nostril. 2) Lick your eyebrows, pick his teeth, and then wipe his finger on your shirt. Giggles and guffaws will be the result of anyone reading Book One of Good Crooks.
Author Mary Amato is a star of state master and children's choice lists and returns to the age category of her popular Riot Brothers chapter book series with this funny, silly new series.
"Billy's parents live up to their last name of Crook, and Billy and his twin sister, Jillian, are expected to follow in their footsteps. The problem is that both kids feel drawn to doing good deeds. 'Should I stop my greedy crook ways and become a good person like this old grandma standing next to me?' Billy wonders. In this first book in the Good Crooks series from Amato (Guitar Notes), the twins try to help out at the local zoo, only to have their parents steal a monkey to train as a thief. Jillian's genius for problem-solving and gadget-making and Billy's more slapdash tendencies combine with comical results. With his jokes, burping skills, and endless craving for bacon, Billy is an entertaining narrator, and the book's many gags and sweetly absurd resolutions to the outlandish problems that arise will have beginning readers eager for more chaotic misadventures from these well-meaning Crooks. Dog Gone! is available simultaneously." —Publishers Weekly—Journal
"A new chapter-book series about do-gooder thieves kicks off with a monkeynapping.
While most parents want their children to be law-abiding citizens, bacon-loving Billy Crook and his inventor twin sister, Jillian, are home-schooled by their professional thief parents to keep their covers safe and practice the skills of the 'trade.' Billy's easygoing, quick-paced narration describes the blunders he and Jillian face when they decide to secretly do good deeds. In their first 'caper,' the twins go in disguise to a clean-up day at the zoo. When their parents follow them and steal a monkey in the process, Billy and Jillian attempt a series of unsuccessful yet humorous schemes to return the monkey without their parents' knowledge. In the second, simultaneously publishing story, Dog Gone! (978-1-60684-397-0; 978-1-60684-510-3 paper), the pair faces a similar scenario when they decide to raise money for an animal shelter by earning the money through a bake sale. Once again, their parents steal an animal, this time Poochie Smoochie, the poodle star of a popular TV show. A concluding twist in the twins' true identities saves the second volume from being just a rehash of the first and sets the scene for more titles.
Scrappy song lyrics, energetic illustrations and plenty of potty humor keep the hilarity high for reluctant readers." —Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Your average crook is devious and sneaky, not good-hearted and thoughtful; Billy and Jillian Crook are not average. Instead of stealing presents, they want to leave them. Instead of breaking into banks, they want to help make them more secure. Since their parents are famous crooks, Billy and Jillian are forced to do all of their good deeds in secret. However, with each new good deed, their parents find a way to make it less then honorable. Each story by Mary Amato brings new deeds, new capers, and hilarious outcomes. With youthful language and humorous drawings, readers will enjoy the adventures of Billy and Jillian, two of the nicest Crooks you will ever meet. Recommended." —Library Media Connection—Journal
"Billy and Jillian Crook want to be good Crooks instead of following in their dishonest parents' footsteps. They are being trained in the family business, so the twins must do their good deeds in secret. In the first book, their parents steal a monkey to train to pick pockets, much to the siblings' disapproval. In Dog Gone!, Billy and Jillian raise money for a dog shelter. However, their attempt to do something worthy goes wrong when their mom and dad plot to steal the TV star Poochie Smoochie. Using disguises, Jillian's problem-solving skills, and Billy's humor, the kids work together to return the stolen animals. Bizarre and comedic circumstances keep readers wondering what will happen next, and frequent black-and-white art adds to the fun. This humorous series will be a hit with early-chapter-book readers." —School Library Journal—Journal
Mary Amato is an award-winning children's and YA book author, songwriter, and poet who lives in Maryland. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, and produced onstage.