Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review of Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers

Riley Mack is a good kid, though he has gotten himself into trouble before. His mom is a teller at the local bank. His father is currently stationed overseas in Afghanistan. When his father first left, he had some trouble and shoplifted, thus earning him a bad reputation with Officer Brown who is always out to get him. Nevermind that Brown's own son Gavin is actually prone to bullying every kind who comes his way and steals all kinds of items for his grandmother's flea market booth.

Riley and his friends have a tendency to get themselves mixed up in all kinds of bizarre adventures. In this book, their first mission is to rescue the new kid, Jamal, from Gavin, who has shoved his head in a freezer. Riley is assisted by Jake, who is a technological wizard at the age of 12, Mongo, an oversized oaf who has a big heart, and Briana, the resident drama queen.

Jamal joins the Gnat Pack and helps them along their many adventures, which include finding a kidnapped goldendoodle puppy, rescuing dozens of dogs and puppies from a local puppy mill, and foiling two bank robbers and am embezzler all at the same time.

This book made me laugh out loud at some points and roll my eyes at others. Chapters are short and it was a quick, enjoyable read. The characters are a little over the top, yet we all went to school with kids just like them. Their misadventures are precisely the kind of thing that all kids dream of having an opportunity to do some day. They all have big hearts, wanting to help their fellow classmates and stolen dogs.

One thing I particularly appreciate about Jamal is that he has an extensive vocabulary. He likes to study the dictionary and often drops big words and their definitions. I always loved big words as a kid. Readers have the chance to subtly learn new vocabulary while enjoying their read.

The book is appropriate for middle elementary and above. I recommend it to the young-at-heart, as well. It's available in hardcover and as an e-book.

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