Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2014 Gr 3–6—After being bullied at his middle school, Mitch is looking forward to a fresh start when his family moves to a different state. He and his first friend, Jamie, start a football betting ring, hoping to make new friends, and maybe a few bucks. Jamie has a hunch that gambling may be against school rules, but they forge ahead anyway. When they find out the hard way that Jamie was right, their friendship is tested, as is Mitch's newfound sense of confidence. That is, until he finds a new, productive use for his sports smarts. This is a cleverly written story, with an astute take on what makes middleschoolers tick. Strong supporting characters, and a good balance of tension and humor keep the pages turning. While there is a lot of academic content woven into the story—financial literacy, statistics, logic, even a little Shakespeare—it is not heavy-handed. It's all explained in a simple, engaging way, sure to appeal to readers not totally smitten with sports or math. Wertheim, an editor for Sports Illustrated, and Moskowitz, a professor of finance, have combined their fields of expertise, resulting in a thoughtful and highly entertaining read.—Jenna Lanterman, formerly at The Calhoun School and Mary McDowell Friends School, New York City - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 10/15/2014 Mitch has never been popular, so when he starts seventh grade in a new town, he comes up with a scheme that gets him in everyone’s good books—or so it seems. Cursed with a star athlete for an older brother and no talent himself, Mitch does have a head for numbers and business. When a quick look at statistics wins him a bet on a football game, other students begin asking to place bets, too. Mitch sees the money-making potential of this venture, and soon he and his friend Jamie—who he “Does. Not. Have. A. Crush. On.”—start running a gambling pool, which has higher stakes than he ever imagined. Careful to not glorify gambling, this draws attention to its shadowy underside while doling out lessons in honesty and friendship. Mitch’s joking tone and genuine desire to gain friends make him a sympathetic character in spite of his lapse in judgment. A rare offering for both the sports enthusiast and the kid who is always picked last for the team. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2015 Mitch Sloan’s parents, a potter and painter, lose their California business and move to Indiana, and Mitch faces the age-old problem of establishing himself socially in a new seventh grade. Things get off to a surprisingly good start when he meets Jamie, a girl who shares his enthusiasm for sports and joins in on his scheme to make quick bucks by managing bets among a few classmates on a Colts game. In no time Mitch’s locker is surrounded by kids as he hands out the week’s winnings and pockets his share of the cash. Some alert adults shut down the bookie business, though, and it looks like Mitch has lost his one true friend, never established a friendship with any of his “clients,” and worst of all, hasn’t really caught on to why taking “harmless” bets should have everybody’s knickers in a twist. Eventually, he finds a better outlet for his business acumen in helping his parents set their gallery straight, and all is right with the world. Not that readers are likely to notice, but this novel is peppered with observations and theories drawn from the authors’ adult work Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won that often amount to little more than aphorisms shoehorned in at appropriate moments. Once Mitch’s older brother Kevin breaks through with some candid talk on why making money isn’t the problem here-ripping off your would-be friends is-the authors’ adult and kid messages finally begin to fuse. Most readers will recognize Mitch’s archetype-the nerdy kid who tries a little to hard- among their classmates and admit that what he lacks in social skills he makes up for in chutzpah. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.