Last night I heard author Gordon Korman speak at the Chatham Area Public Library, and he was great.  (Based on all the raised hands and eager questions, I’d say the 100+ kids there thought so, too.)  His books are hugely popular with a lot of guys (and girls), but I realized I’d never featured one in the blog.  So here’s one of my favorites, and, according to Gordon, his #1 selling title:

swindleSwindle, by Gordon Korman (lexile: 710; AR book level: 4.9; 252 pp)

Sixth-grader Griffin Bing (“The Man With The Plan”) and his best friend Ben Slovak are spending the night in an abandoned (maybe haunted?) house that’s due to be demolished the next day.  While exploring the house, Griffin discovers an old Babe Ruth baseball card.  Could it be genuine?  Could it be VALUABLE?

To find out, they take it the next day to S. Wendell Palomino’s “Emporium of Collectibles and Memorabilia.”  Palomino tells them it’s just a copy, not worth much, and gives them $120.

Imagine their surprise to see S. Wendell (“Swindle”) interviewed later on TV about HIS prize Babe Ruth card that he expects to auction for ONE MILLION DOLLARS!  Griffin’s been SWINDLED — and he intends to get that card back!

So Griffin puts together an intricate plan worthy of a Mission Impossible movie.  Swindle’s store is a fortress, guarded by fence, fierce dog, and high-tech security, not to mention a nosy neighbor who’s always around.  Griffin will need the diverse skills of a team of friends to pull it off, and you can bet not everything will go as planned.

Swindle is fast-paced, and funny, and appeals to every kid’s sense of justice.  You want Griffin and his pals to succeed, and show Swindle he can’t get away with taking advantage of a kid.  And for parents who might worry that the story sets a bad example — stealing the card back wasn’t perhaps the best way to right the wrong — those lessons emerge eventually.  But the ride there is quite a roller coaster.  As one reviewer has said, this is Oceans Eleven with 11-year-olds.

Griffin and his team return in four equally fun books:

  • Zoobreak (lexile: 700; AR book level: 4.9; 230 pp)
  • Framed (lexile: 730; AR book level: 5.2; 234 pp)
  • Showoff (lexile: 740; AR book level: 5.1; 248 pp)
  • Hideout (lexile: 750; AR book level: 5.2; 275 pp)

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