Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers
Review: Seventh grader Riley Mack comes to the aid of victims of bullies, but also directs his attention and boundless energy to other — and closer to home — crimes in Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers, a middle-grade novel by Chris Grabenstein.
In the opening chapters, which set the style and tone for the rest of the book, Riley is called upon to assist Jamal Wilson, a 5th grader being bullied by a middle-school graduate, Gavin Brown, who wants to relieve him of his iPod. Jamal tries to resist, but it's hard when your head is being pressed between two tubs of ice cream and your tongue stuck to the freezer racks. Riley devises a clever plan to turn the tables on Gavin, enlisting his friends — the "other known troublemakers" in the title — to play supporting roles. It works, but Riley knows that he hasn't seen the last of Gavin … or the Brown family; Gavin's father is the town's Chief of Police. Meanwhile, the manager of the bank where Riley's mother Maddie works is doing a little "financial investing" on the side … with cash deposited by its customers. When Maddie is inadvertently drawn into one of his schemes, it's up to Riley — whose father is serving in Afghanistan — to make things right.
Adults, who studiously avoid middle-grade books as being too juvenile for their tastes, may have to reconsider their position with respect to Riley Mack. This is one entertaining adventure, written at a level appropriate for its intended audience yet completely suitable for older readers looking for a fast, fun story. The action is nearly non-stop, jumping from one crime-related plot thread to another, but wholly centered on the character of Riley Mack. There are more than a few laugh-out-loud scenes, and the dialog, especially from Riley, is frequently wry and witty. Middle-grade readers will be entertained simply following along with Riley — or, more likely, imagining themselves as the character — as he rights the wrongs of his town, getting into trouble — sort of, but not really — all along the way.
There is no indication that this is the first of a series, but it would be a crime, as it were, not to bring Riley back for a second set of adventures. Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers is highly recommended for kids … and their parents.
As of the date of this review, no Lexile measure has been assigned to this book. The publisher recommends it for readers aged 8 and older.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780312382315; ISBN-10: 0312382316
Pegasus Books (Hardcover), May 2013
ISBN-13: 9781605984759; ISBN-10: 1605984752
Location(s) referenced in Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers:
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Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers by Chris Grabenstein
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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