- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 760 (What's this?)
- Series: Fourth Stall (Book 1)
- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Walden Pond Press; 1st edition (January 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780061994975
- ISBN-13: 978-0061994975
- ASIN: 0061994979
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 151 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paperback – January 3, 2012
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Showing 1-5 of 151 reviews
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Grandpa isn't so sure. Mac is a grammar school "fixer". For a fee or a favor, he and his partner Vince help kids solve problems. Getting them answers to tests, forging doctor's notes or getting them video games their parents don't want them to play are the types of favors he most often performs. You know, avoiding silly rules imposed by grown-ups. Grandson thought this was fine, which is why I read the books. One day, however, Mac is confronted by a far more serious problem. A kid named Fred, who works for Mac's high school counterpart, a kid named Staples who fixes sports games and runs a bookmaking operation, has tried to quit, and now needs protection from Staples' organization. Mac agrees to take on the job. How Mac deals with Staples makes up the rest of the book.
My issue with "The Fourth Stall" is that it is ethically ambivalent, and the middle school kids who read it probably lack the maturity to realize when heroes cross the moral line. Two examples:
1. Mac is attacked by a bully used by Staples called "the Collector". He responds by hiring bullies of his own not only to punish The Collector physically, but to use social media to humiliate the kid until he leaves school. In today's world, with headlines about kids being driven to suicide by social bullies, this is just not acceptable behavior. It's wrong.
2. Vince's Mom loses her job and the family is having a hard time financially; so Vince begins embezzling from his business partners to help tide them over. He lies to Mac, but is eventually caught; at which point he apologizes and is forgiven without consequence. Is that OK with you? Not me.
As with the Godfather movies, The Sopranos, or other crime-related stories, we like the main characters even when they are doing bad things. Understanding the badness of the action can actually make the character more human than he otherwise might have been. When you present this formula to kids like Grandson, however, I think they tend to applaud the winning and losing more than reflecting on the moral toll it takes on the protagonist. That point is never made in this book, which makes it one that parents should monitor closely.
With his longtime buddy Vince backing him up, Mac sells solutions to other kids' problems. He's perfectly happy delivering practical solutions to problems like procuring test answers, or even making loans, until a competitor starts cutting into his profits.
This competitor, in true gangster style, is known only by the name Staples. He no longer even attends school--instead, he's a fixer running a gambling ring, and he's draining Mac's customers dry. Mac and Vince can't let Staples keep operating or they'll never be able to afford their dream: tickets to see the Chicago Cubs play a World Series game!
The Fourth Stall follows Mac and Vince's journey in hilarious and honest detail--Rylander really gets kids at this age, especially boys. I can recall being so consumed with a handmade jewelry business I ran in sixth grade that I forgot about school almost entirely. That's the case with these boys, as well. They fight for what they want, test their limits along the way, and realize that true friendship, in the end, is the greatest prize of all.
This is the first book in the series The Fourth stall and this is the start of Christian Barrett's adventures of running a business, as he faces challenges with his best friend Vince this book kept me entertained through the thrilling time of reading this amazing book.As the first book of a series, it is the base of basically everything in a series.I was very interested in it.Not only the cover, it was written by the amazing author Chris Rylander, who wrote the book Codename Zero and that series (Make sure to read it!) and it lit a spark in my thoughts and I read it.I really hope you enjoy this book and the series!!
Unfortunately in the middle, Staples turn Vince against Mac and his business.
The plot twist at the end is very unconvincing. The fact that Staples can just drive away with a kid would be noticeable. You would think someone would notice a kid hijacking.
~ McNiece's 5th and 6th grade class