Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 11/01/2012 What new kid at school hasn’t dreamed about making friends, being part of a club, and even perhaps playing a prank and not getting caught? Sixth-grader Ben Diaz wants to expand his circle of friends, and he thinks starting the year with a prank is a good way to do it. However, he is not going to include Hector in the prank. Why not? It just so happens that Hector’s grandmother is the principal of their middle school (and she has no sense of humor). After succeeding with his initial prank, Ben decides to form a school club, the League of Pickle Makers, to use as a guise for their pranks. As the pranks escalate, readers will know that the culprits will eventually get caught. Even though this is a fast-paced, humorous story, it tackles the true meanings of friendship. Meanwhile, Probert’s illustrations offer just the right amount of characterization. Pair this with James Preller’s Justin Fisher books or Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 11/01/2012 Gr 4–6—Ben Diaz has a secret. His after-school pickle-making club is just a cover for the group's real purpose: pulling pranks. Ben also has a problem. His best friend wants to join, but Hector can't keep a secret, and Hector's grandmother is the stern principal of the boys' middle school. When a prank releases thousands of crickets at a school fair, the principal suspends all extracurricular activities until the culprits turn themselves in. The club members organize a protest to reclaim students' rights, as Ben says, "to be responsible for our choices. We can't if she won't let us." The resolution will satisfy even if it's a bit idealized, just as the novel's kid-empowerment theme will resonate with young readers, but it does not help them to consider that their choices-like pranks-can have unintended consequences. Ben's first-person narration feels authentic. What feels forced is the device of the protagonist warning readers in chapter one to continue with the story "only if you think you can handle it." The club members all have backstories that make them distinct characters; the adults get less attention. Probert's finely detailed, expressive illustrations depict the club's racially diverse makeup. Baker's debut novel shows promise and offers an enjoyable read.M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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