Swindle (Korman)

Book Reviews
This novel by the very popular author contains all of the perfect elements of a story for middle school readers, including suspense, fully-developed characters, relevant plot, humor, and a surprise ending that is difficult to predict. The main character, Griffin Bing is the boy who always has a plan. He is also a 6th grade student who is known for his sometimes outrageous actions. One of his recent ideas is to have a sleepover in a condemned local "haunted house." While scoping out the house, Griffin discovers a very rare George Herman Ruth baseball card. This card is the key to his Griffin's new plan to save his family from their financial problems. He sells his card to a dealer for $120. Later, he discovers that he has been swindled. The dealer sold the rare card for $200,000. Griffin knows he needs a new plan. He enlists the help of his friend in his mission to get his card back. His plan is not perfect, and he and his team soon realize they must outwit a guard dog, a security system, and a secret hiding place. One more problem stands in his way: No one can drive. Readers will enjoy the page-turning adventure, the quirky characters and the revenge factor. This book is destined to become a favorite read-aloud for librarians and classroom teachers. It is a must-have for middle school libraries. —Sue Reichard
Children's Literature


(Gr 3-7) When Griffin Bing and his pal Ben discover an old Babe Ruth baseball card in a home about to be demolished, Griffin—aware that his dad's lack of success as an inventor is causing increasing stress at home—dreams of selling it for thousands and using his share to keep the family financially afloat. The boys are somewhat deflated when they present the card to collectibles dealer S. Wendell Palomino and he suggests that it is a reproduction and buys it for just $120. They soon discover that the sleazy dealer plans to auction off the card, which is actually an extremely rare misprint, and that it is expected to sell for well over a million dollars. Outraged at having been taken advantage of, Griffin plans to steal the valuable card back from Palomino—or "Swindle," as he now calls him—but doing so is no mean feat. Among the obstacles the boys face are a large fence, a high-tech security system, and a ferocious guard dog. Clearly, special skills are needed, so they recruit a ragtag crew of oddball accomplices including an expert climber, an electronics whiz, an aspiring actor, and an animal lover who claims to be able to put even the most hardened, snarling canines in touch with their cuddly inner puppies. This kids-versus-adults-themed story is pure plot-driven fun from top to bottom. If you read it aloud, don't be surprised when your listeners beg you for "just one more chapter." —Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
School Library Journal


Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing enlists sixth grade friends who have computer, climbing, acting, animal handling, and swindling skills to retrieve a possible million-dollar Babe Ruth baseball card from a shop owner who scammed it from Griffin for only $125. Griffin hopes that selling the card will solve his parents' financial problems brought on by his father quitting his engineering job to focus on his invention, the SmartPick, which picks fruit without bruising it. The crew sends the shop owner tickets to a hockey game and break into his house while he is gone. With the help of the SmartPick, they overcome hostile guard dogs, security systems, neighbor surveillance, and betrayal to secure the card, but Griffin must return it to its rightful owner. Eventually the card funds the building of a town museum that includes a skate park, which is dedicated to Griffin and his team, and the caper brings attention and investors to the SmartPick so that Griffin's family is financially secure. Korman's fast moving, feel-good suspense novel will have middle schoolers, especially boys, turning the pages. Griffin, "The Man With a Plan," is resourceful but believable and likeable. He needs his friends, learns from them, and makes some poor choices for good causes. He out thinks the bad guys, supports his father (the good guy), and commits a crime with which even the police sympathize. The dog cover, large print, and ample white space make it reluctant reader material. —Lucy Schall
VOYA

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