swindle-cover.jpgSwindle
By Gordon Korman
Scholastic Press
ISBN 9780439903448
$16.99
Grades 4-6
In Stores March 2008

*Recommended*

Can we get a few more copies please?

I work as library media specialist in a school district with four elementary buildings. Right now two of the schools are holding their annual book fair and “Swindle” is the most sought after item … other than the pencils with fuzzy dog toppers (cringe). It helps that “Swindle” was featured prominently in a video we show students hyping up some of the books that will be on sale. I have to say that the hype was warranted. This heist story is sure to catch on with a wide range of readers, including that hardest to reach segment of the reading population: boys.

Griffin is a guy to likes to think things through. He has a plan for everything and can always count on his best friend Ben to help him execute his grand ideas. One such idea leads to the discovery of an old Babe Ruth baseball card. When the boys take the card to their local memorabilia fanatic (S. Wendell Palomino, henceforth known as “Swindle”), the collector dupes Griffin and buys the card for cheap. When it comes to light that the card could be worth millions, Griffin assembles a team to get the card back. There’s Pitch, the climber; Logan, thespian; Melissa, computer pro; and Savannah, animal control. Everyone needs to play their role to perfection – Swindle is obsessed with keeping his prized possession secure. Do they pull the job without a hitch? Not even close. But what fun is it if things go as planned?

I was wondering how this one was going to end, in fact I was racing to find out. Griffin and his crew commit a crime – you can’t really just say “and then they got away. The End”. So how does the author wrap up the story and leave the reader satisfied while dealing with the serious nature of the offense? Mr. Korman does an admirable job. Our heroes don’t get off the hook, but they aren’t really left on the hook either. It didn’t disappoint.

So let’s see: kids being sneaky + the chance to be rich + sticking it to a greedy adult. Yep, by my calculations we have genuine reluctant reader gold on our hands. Now if I could just scare up a few more copies for kids on the book fair waiting list…