Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 / 5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★★☆ (4 / 5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 / 5 stars)
Riley Mack has a reputation around town as a troublemaker, although most of the rumors aren’t true. Yes, he stole an ice cream cake years ago…but he had made a point since then to stop! With his rag-tag team of troublemakers – Briana, Ben, Mongo, and Jamal – Riley is on the case. Whether it is to rescue innocent sixth graders or find a lost dog, Riley will stay by his side until the end. But as his searches continue, a deeper plot unravels. Can Riley save the day? Or should he leave it to the adults?
While this novel is relatively predictable, Riley Mack and his crew are a fun, relatable cohort to whom most children will relate. Each member of the crew proves to be a valuable asset: Briana is the actress that can send people astray, Mongo is the guy who will stick with his friends to the end, Ben can crack any puzzle via his computer, Jamal can crack any lock and is eager to learn, and Riley will lead them all no matter how difficult the endeavor. No other crew of troublemakers could solve all the problems brewing in the town!
Did the story border on unrealistic to some extent? Yes. But children stories are supposed to deposit the reader into the unimaginable! Instead of a world that follows the strict order of law, this story shows that children have what it takes to tackle whatever challenges them! It’s like most modern day cartoons…and it was fun! Isn’t that all we’re asking from in middle grade novels?
I think Grabenstein did a great job weaving together all the intricate little pieces. Already, I have read two books by Chris Grabenstein, and while the stories themselves are predictable, the puzzle pieces that he manages to weave throughout the narratives are what make these stories wonderful. As an adult reader, I find them fun and enjoyable. Children will love them even more!
So I’d say check this, or any of Grabenstein’s other stories, out! They’re definitely worth the time for you or for your children!
What’s it about?
What do you get when you add up one middle school bully, two bank robbers, 57 puppy-mill dogs, 4,000 missing dollars, and five daring troublemakers led by the incomparable Riley Mack? One crazy caper! In this merry, mischievous romp, master storyteller Chris Grabenstein, the award-winning author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, teams with a full-cast of audio talent to introduce Riley Mack, a one-of-a-kind 12-year-old hometown hero.