Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Most Wanted by Kate Thompson

Green Bean Teen Queen hosts a meme on Tuesdays called Tween Tuesday where great books for tweens are featured. 

More of my Tween Tuesday posts.

Most Wanted by Kate Thompson
Release Date: December 1 2010
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 128
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 


From Goodreads: 

While making his daily deliveries, a baker’s son suddenly finds himself holding a stallion’s golden lead. Soon the boy discovers that this isn’t just any horse, it’s the most powerful creature in all of Rome.
What will the mad emperor do if he finds the boy with his prized horse? Cut off his head? Or worse?


There’s something about Kate Thompson’s writing that I just like. Her books are slim and, as far as adult readers may be concerned, slim in character development as well, but she tells a great story. Kate Thompson is a storyteller, no doubt about it.

This story takes place just as the death of the emperor Caligula is announced, but is the announcement real or a trick? The most important thing to know about Caligula (the real man and the character) is that he was absolutely insane and his reign was, in a word, frightening. The terror the characters all feel is palatable as they try to decide what to do about the predicament they find themselves in.

As people, the characters weren’t overly developed, but this isn’t that kind of book. The strength of this book is that the main character is vessel for you to use to insert yourself into the story. In this way, I was sucked into the story and felt like I was actually there. It was so much fun reading about the events (I was at the edge of my seat wondering how things would work out), but it was also pretty educational.

For such a small book, there’s a whole lot of historical facts packed in. I love history and know a decent bit about Roman history already, but the target audience will probably be enthralled by all of the fantastic—but true!—historical details. Kate Thompson also completely avoided lengthy paragraphs with dry facts. These details just flow naturally and never felt like they were bogging down the story.

This would be a perfect book to read aloud and a great addition to classroom shelves. I highly recommend this for the target audience (9-12) as well as older readers. I think even adults will find enjoyment here, though know you’re getting more of a well-told short story than a full novel.

P.S. The cover illustrator is ok, but the illustrations inside the book are amazing. The people are cute and the horse is gorgeous. 
 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key  

Looking for something similar? 
You might like: 
Deadly by Julie Chibbaro


  1. I love Tween Tuesday! I used to participate regularly but I haven't read enough MG books lately. This looks like a very cute book. The illustration you included is indeed gorgeous. I like books that allow you to insert yourself as the main character. For what it lacks in character development, it tends to makes up for in plot and relatability.

  2. I don't really read a lot of MG or male main characters but this looks cute and unique-I don't see a lot of books set in Rome yet that is such a fascinating time period. Great review!

  3. Wow, this looks like a unique read! I love the illustration you included :) The horse is so beautiful (I really like his tail-I don't know why) Thanks for sharing!

  4. This sounds like a really good book to have my young cousin read - he loves adventure books and this would probably appeal to him.

    Also, sorry for ruining your lunch with my post :D

    Brush Up On Your Reading

  5. Great point about the author being a storyteller. I'm a storytelling class right now and we keep talking about the various ways people tell stories. And this one does sound like a great classroom read!

  6. I typically don't read books for this age group but this one sounds like a great story, especially to read aloud. Plus I love the historical facts mixed in!

  7. I'm with Tara, I don't usually read MG books, but this one does sound cute and the illustrations on the inside look amazing. What a beautifully drawn horse:) Being partial to horses myself, I would be happy to flip through this one just to see the images!

  8. This sounds like fun, even though I'm not usually a MG fan (like Tara and Jenny). Still, I think the Caligula era is so fascinating just because he was so crazypants, so I might give this one a try.

  9. It sounds the perfect book to snuggle up on the sofa with when you're feeling ill and just want a quick, easy comfort read. Most Wanted and chocolate. mmm, I could do with that now.

  10. I love to check out TT because I get a lot of recommendations to pass on to my little cousins. I think David, the one I have a hard time getting read, would like this one. ;)

  11. I love historical fiction, especially if I learn something from them. I know absolutely nothing about Caligula. Didn't even know he was a real ruler. I'll have to read this one.

    And, btw, I loved the Conjurer Princess. You need to review some of Vivian's works. What is the next one?


  12. TT is a great meme because I love to have a set of interesting books for my nieces and nephews to read. My nephew is currently enjoying the 39 clues series. This one also sounds like a good book for boys.

  13. Alison, Me too! It’s such a great feature. I couldn’t even find one of the prettier illustrations! The horse is gorgeous.

    Bookworm1858, The main character is so “thin” that it’s not really a very strong male character voice. I do love the time period, though you’re right, I haven’t read many books set in that time. My favorite adult book is The Alexandrian by Martha Rolfheart and it follows Cleopatra. So not quite Rome, but Rome is mentioned often through her connections with Caesar and Mark Antony.

    Lulu, Unique is a very good word for it. I know what you mean about the horse’s tail. The illustrator does a great job making the mane and tail looks really beautiful.

    Nina, I hope he enjoys it! Hehe, don’t worry. I made up for it with dessert later :)

    GreenBeanTeenQueen, It would be perfect for a classroom read. Even better though, I think, is her other book Highway Robbery. It’s a perfect example of an unreliable narrator and lends itself well to reading out loud.

    Tara, Definitely good as a read aloud. There’s even a little note at the end about the historical facts and the author’s liberties.

    Jenny, Isn’t the horse gorgeous? I spent a lot of time just looking at the illustrations.

    Logan, LOL crazypants for sure! I think the author did a really good job in capturing the fear people lived in under such an insane ruler.

  14. The Slowest Bookworm, Mmm, yes, cozying up with a good book and chocolate sounds great. Sans feeling ill though :)

    Missie, I hope he enjoys it! It’s a nice, quick read.

    Heather, I think you might like this one then! The author did change one thing (there’s a note about it in the back), but overall there are a ton of great facts. You’re in for a big surprise learning about Caligula! I’m excited for you :) YES!!! I’m so happy to hear you loved The Conjurer Princess! I’ll email you back soon with more info :)

    Gina, Ooh, I’ve been meaning to read the 39 Clues series! I think both boys and girls could like this book. I love TT. It always gives me a list of b

  15. This sounds like a fun read! I love reading middle grade books, as well as YA ones, because they are just as good, and a lot of times more fun and easygoing! It's nice that this one is more historical fiction as well. Great review!

  16. I'm taking a classics course right now so this one sounds like a really good way to absorb some facts while getting some reading time. Reading textbooks doesn't count!

  17. Impressed that you say the author was able to insert historical facts and yet somehow not manage to make it too dry to be enjoyed by the target age group! Quite a feat.

  18. T.B., I enjoyed it! I hope you do too :)

    A Canadian Girl, This was definitely a fun way to absorb facts. There’s a ton, but it never felt boring to me.

    Aylee, I agree! She just wove all of the facts into the story itself so the facts didn’t feel like lectures that digressed from the plot.


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