Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Literary Names: The Thief Lord

Ciao, lettori!

In this week's look at Literary Names, we'll be focusing on a favorite children's book of mine, Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord!

The Thief Lord is about two young boys who run away from their aunt and uncle's home to live on the streets of Venice, and they get entangled in a fantastical mystery. I recommend it to all readers 9 and up! 

Unlike other Literary Name posts, I'll be looking at the original names of the main characters. The Italian names in this book are too delightful to pass up!

Prosper "Prop" Hartlieb
The older of our two fraternal protagonists, Prosper is responsible, smart and kind. His name, which is laughed off in the beginning of the book by his aunt, is a result of his late mother's eccentricities. It actually ranked in the US top 1000 in 1881 - a mere blip, but that's established enough for me! Prosper is also popular in France, and it's meaning is understood across dozens of languages.

Boniface "Bo" Hartlieb
Sweet and enthusiastic Bo causes all sorts of trouble in The Thief Lord, mostly as a result of copying his favorite older child, Scipio (see below). Like his brother, his name means "fortunate", and is commonly associated with the many saints and popes Boniface. It's an adorable and unexpected way to get to the nickname Bo!

Scipio Massimo
Pronounced "SEE-pee-oh", Scipio is the leader of the group and the one with the most secrets to hide. He's daring, witty, and ambitious - not a bad namesake! Scipio means "walking stick", and dates back to Roman times.  You'll be hard-pressed to find a nickname, but that might be a positive attribute, depending on your taste.

Caterina "Hornet" Grimani
Independent and intelligent, Hornet is the only female in the group - and more than holds her own against the boys. The name Hornet is a little too aggressive (and the first syllable could definitely cause teasing), but the name Bee or Bea is a cute work-around. Caterina is also a lovely, feminine moniker that updates now-tainted Katrina, and separates itself from popular Catherine.

Small but fiery Riccio is nicknamed "Hedgehog" by the group because of his unruly hair - coincidentally, his name means "curly"! I like this name as a nickname or derivative of Richard, and its sound ties it to other popular Italian names - Gianni, Angelo, Leo. Riccio is pronounced "REE-kee-oh", but it may be mistaken as "REE-chee-oh" in the US.

Aspiring boater and mechanical whiz, Mosca is another thief in the children's gang. His name means "fly", as in the insect, and despite its less-than-ideal definition, I love the sound of the name. It joins a small but elegant group of boys' names ending in A, like Noah, Jonah, and Ezra.

Since I'm only writing about the names of the children, I should mention that the adult's names are just as cool - Ernesto, Max, Esther, Victor, and Ida.

Which names are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

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