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Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers    by Chris Grabenstein Amazon.com order for
Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers
by Chris Grabenstein
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

If you are looking for non-required summer reading to capture the attention of a middle-grader, possibly even a reluctant reader, then Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers is a perfect fit. With a background in improv comedy, author Chris Grabenstein lets that wit shine through in this wacky, comedic adventure.

According to the local police chief, Riley Mack is a Known Troublemaker. Riley's first encounter with the police was right after his dad was deployed to Afghanistan. Angry and lost, Riley shoplifted an ice cream cake. Since then, he has decided to use his skills for good and has rounded up a band of other troublemakers Mongo, Briana, and Jake forming what the chief calls the Gnat Pack. After they save a new fifth-grader, Jamal, from a bully (who just happens to be the chief's son), Jamal (an expert lock-picker) tells the Gnat Pack about a rash of thefts among fifth-graders.

But the Gnat Pack has a bigger crime to solve the dognapping of Mongo's new goldendoodle puppy. When the dog's collar shows up among stolen items being sold at a booth run by the chief's mother, the kids stumble onto a puppy mill. Always wanting to save those in trouble, these troublemakers concoct a scheme to rescue the dogs. And if that were not enough, they will also take down an embezzler and stop a bank robbery!

Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers is non-stop fun. The action never once lags and the hilarity just keeps coming. This combination is certain to keep even a reluctant middle-grade reader engaged. The pacing is perfect, allowing the pages to just fly by. And while Riley might go about things in a very unorthodox way, what he stands for - helping those in need makes him a great role model for middle-schoolers. Chris Grabenstein has a winner with Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers. Hopefully this is the start of a fresh new middle grade series.

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