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Pirates of the Retail Wasteland Hardcover – April 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—To document the impact of corporate change and suburban sprawl on their town, eighth-grader Leon Noside and his gifted-pool classmates stage a mutiny against a giant coffee franchise. They raise a pirate flag and change the retailer into an accounting office for a day with the help of the local staff. While recording the reactions of homemakers, hotshots, and school librarians who are being tested to see if they notice, Leon also has to face his conflicted feelings toward two of his classmates. The quirks of the authority figures will have a high appeal to teens; Leon's family members re-create awful dinners from old cookbooks and adopt matching personalities, which gives readers a chance to commiserate over weird families of all sorts. They will be disappointed in the mediocre climax of the book; the pirate theme tapers off as the students abandon the project after a low-key confrontation with an antagonistic gym teacher. Addressing similar issues as Stefan Petrucha's Teen, Inc. (Walker, 2007) but for a younger audience, this is a general purchase for medium to large collections.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Adam Selzer lives in downtown Chicago. In addition to his work as a tour guide and assistant ghost-buster (really), he moonlights as a rock star. Check him out on the Web at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385734824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385734820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,588,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Selzer is the proud coiner of the immortal phrase "you don't have to be smart to be a smartass, but it helps." He writes humorous books (both fiction and non) for readers of all ages by day and runs ghost tours in Chicago by night. If you can find two cooler jobs than that, take 'em! He is one of those people you hear about on the news who has to choose between paying off student loans and having a health care plan, and occasionally claims to be the third cowboy from the left in the famous "lost thunderbird photo." He is also credited by film historians as having inspired the film "Bedtime for Bonzo," which starred Ronald Reagan and a chimp. People who point out that said movie was released decades before he was born just don't know enough about quantum physics. Adam enjoys standing in long lines for tickets, and hopes to one day travel back in time to wait in line overnight for tickets to see a Charles Dickens reading. See him online at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on December 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Leon and his friends have a problem.

Just as they are assigned to come up with a monument for their gifted pool group, they learn a terrible truth. Their favorite coffee shop, Sip, could be going out of business.

Sip has been struggling against its big corporate competitor, Wackfords, another coffee chain downtown, and it's quickly losing the battle.

Leon and his friends don't like this and decide to take matters into their own hands. With some help from the Wackfords manager (who is surprisingly like Leon and his friends) they form a plan to save Sip.

However, you know what they say about even the best laid plans....

This book is smart and very, very funny. Readers will love going through this fight with Leon and find him as easy to relate to as a best friend.

Reviewed by: Michaela Pallante aka "Mickey"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Adam Selzer's PIRATES OF THE RETAIL WASTELAND tells of a favorite coffee shop about to be put out of business by a corporate chain - and the efforts of a band of wacky gifted patrons to save it. With much tongue-in-cheek the story of a small-time business battling the superstores makes for a zany quest that is hilarious and fun.
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By Swank Ivy on September 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I liked that Adam again nailed that whole "too smart for their own good" gifted pool culture (especially how the gym teacher was convinced it had to be one of them that was sending him depressing poetry), but even though I kinda thought the students were individually amusing, I didn't have much personal attachment to any of them. I was also kinda surprised that even the "BRING DOWN ALL THINGS CAPITALIST" Communist of the group didn't think it was a little tame to take over a coffeeshop with express permission and help from two of the workers. In the last book about Leon, his dad's wacky inventions somehow tied into the plot, whereas in this one Leon's dad kept up his harebrained ideas in such a way that it made me feel there wasn't much of a clearly defined reason for him to be in the book as much as he was. I did chuckle at the literary references and I did appreciate that a lot of "bohemian" and "alternative" culture was given a nod in this book, but I often felt that these bits felt a little randomly inserted. Perhaps this was intentional since kids Leon's age often do sort of latch onto an aspect of culture and define themselves by it for a while as they learn to understand it. And finally, I was a little disappointed in Leon for having a main motivation of wanting to impress Anna. Sure he LIKED being a "pirate," but he committed to the idea when he felt it would make Anna think he was revolutionary enough. I would have liked some revelation of Leon's embracing of the cause for the cause's sake at some point. I'll wrap up by saying it held my attention and that the dialogue is well-written!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By octobercountry on May 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was a short and very amusing novel, with likeable characters. Though, every time I read this sort of story, I have to wonder if families as wacky and goofy as the one depicted here actually exist in the real world. One thing is certain, I don't remember my own circle of friends back in junior high as being quite so imaginative or funny as the characters in this book are.

The writing style is fine, but I have to say unfortunately the plot didn't interest me in the least, and it kind of fizzles out to a pointless conclusion. So, this book gets an "eh" reaction from me overall despite its positive qualities and I can't say I particularly recommend it. This is a companion novel to another story about the same characters titled How to Get Suspended and Influence People, so perhaps I would have enjoyed that one more? The author also wrote I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It which does sound very funny; I'll have to try that one sometime.

This book reminded me, once again, that I'm a bit out of touch with modern teenagers. (The only teens I really know are my own niece and nephews; don't spend much time with kids that age as a rule.) I often am unable to figure out what age range any given teen novel is appropriate for. This book, for instance, contains a generous variety of swear words/vulgar terms---just about all of the major ones, in fact, except for "the big one." And to me, vulgar language just seems so unnecessary in books aimed at kids aged 12-14, like this one is. Do all kids today really talk like this, and am I being hopelessly old-fashioned? Man, I'm getting old; I know books weren't written like this when I was that age!

I like the dust jacket on this one; very nicely designed.
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