Friday, October 28, 2011

Zany Adventure Story A Whole Lot of Fun

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Griffin Bing, known far and wide as "The Man With the Plan" is beginning to doubt his newest venture. It was supposed to be a big thing - a crowd of 6th graders staying overnight in a spooky abandoned house to prove to the adults of Cedarville, New York, that kids can and, more importantly, should have a voice in local politics. Now? It's turned into a joke, a pathetic night of 11-year-old Griffin and his best friend, Ben Slovak, trading ghost stories in a crumbling haunted house. Not exactly the revolution Griffin was hoping for.

Things take a turn for the much, much, much better when Griffin discovers an old baseball card hidden in a desk. Griffin's not sure how valuable the card might be, but he's certain it's worth something. And even a little bit would go a long way toward keeping the Bings in the house they can no longer afford. When Griffin takes the card to a local pawn shop, he's thrilled to get $120 for it. Until he discovers he's been swindled - the 1920 Babe Ruth card is rare and worth at least $200,000.

It's not so much the money that bugs Griffin, but the injustice. Once again an adult in Cedarville is walking all over a kid. It's not right. And The Man With the Plan is not about to let it go this time. With the help of a crack team of 6th graders, he's going to get his card back. No matter what it takes.

Swindle, the first book in Gordon Korman's popular series about uber-planner Griffin Bing, is a whole lot of fun. It's not the best-written piece of middle-grade literature I've ever read, but it's an upbeat, exciting story that will speak to any kid who's ever felt invisible. This zany adventure makes for a quick, funny read, one that should engage even reluctant readers. I didn't like the book nearly as much as my kids did, but I definitely enjoyed Swindle. If my kids have anything to do with it - and believe me, they do - I'll be picking up the rest of the books in the series. Soon. And that's okay with me.

(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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