Born in Worcestershire, England; children: two.
Viola player with Philharmonia Orchestra in England; writer.
The Theft & the Miracle, Katherine Tegen Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Rebecca Wade is a writer and professional viola player with the Philharmonia Orchestra who lives in London, England. She was born in the English cathedral town of Worcestershire, and although the setting for her first book, The Theft & the Miracle, is an unnamed city, she did much of her research in the Worcester Cathedral.
The protagonist of this young-adult thriller is twelve-year-old Hannah Price, who suffers from being average—both academically and socially. Although she is self-conscious about her weight and her acne, she has two winning gifts—her kind, charitable personality and her exceptional talent for drawing. She also tends to take special notice of things that other people take for granted.
One day, having lent her coat to a needy friend, Hannah is caught in a fierce thunderstorm. She ducks into an ancient cathedral for shelter, and while there she is inspired to make a drawing of a medieval carving, Virgin and Child. As she draws she is overwhelmed by a mysterious force that frightens her and sends her quickly home. The following day the statue of the infant is stolen, and she becomes a suspect. As she and her friend Sam try to unravel the mystery of the disappearing Christ Child, they encounter angels, witches, fiends, and ghosts as time and space shift around them.
Reviews for The Theft & the Miracle were favorable, with critics showing an appreciation for Wade's handling of time and place. Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper commented that Wade "has a terrific talent for characterization and description" and her "vivid detailing" brings such varied settings as a witch's home or a sacred church alive. Chris Shanley-Dillman ofKidsReads.com was of a similar opinion, writing, "Rebecca Wade really shines with her vivid and dramatic descriptions, almost literally transporting the reader into the amazingly ancient cathedral." Reviewers also liked the characters Wade created. In her review for School Library Journal, Kim Dare said, "Wade skillfully blends the Black Death of the 14th century and other historical elements into a fascinating and well-paced story."
Some critics found the plot cumbersome and difficult to follow but still liked the book overall. In the opinion of Kliatt reviewer Myrna Marler, the ending is prolonged and may be excessively sentimental for adult readers; however, "the triumph of good over evil may be just the ticket for fantasy and adventure-loving young teens." Cooper had similar reservations but concluded that once Wade learns to balance her descriptive strengths and her plot inadequacies, she "will be a formidable writer." A critic for Kirkus Reviews summed up by saying, "Those willing to go along just for the ride will have a rather thrilling time."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 62.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 390.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of The heft & the Miracle, p. 1274.
Kliatt, January, 2007, Myrna Marler, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2007, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 86.
School Library Journal, January, 2007, Kim Dare, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 140.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, Debbie Clifford, review of The Theft & the Miracle, p. 534.
KidsReads.com,http://www.kidsreads.com/ (January 23, 2008), Chris Shanley-Dillman, review of The Theft & the Miracle.