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Twelve-year-old Griffin Bing is known throughout Cedarville, New York, as The Man with the Plan. He also has a reputation with the police department, the school system and the newspapers as a troublemaker. So right from day one of Griffin’s middle-school career, the principal has his eye on him. That wouldn’t be too terrible, except that conflict has a way of finding Griffin and his friends. This time, a very valuable Super Bowl ring that was donated to the school has been stolen right out of the locked display case in the school. A retainer is found in the case providing the only clue --- and it belongs to Griffin. But he has no idea how it ended up there; he just knows he lost it a few days before the crime. Griffin deducts that he’s being framed.

Griffin and his parents have to attend a preliminary hearing in front of a judge who sets a date for the actual hearing. In the meantime, he is under house arrest and ordered to attend the John F. Kennedy Alternative Education Center, otherwise known as JFK (or, as Griffin refers to it, Jail For Kids). It’s not juvenile detention, but close, and the teachers are more concerned with keeping order than teaching anything. But the worst part is that Griffin isn’t allowed to see his friends: Logan, the budding actor; Savannah, the animal lover; Ben, who suffers from a sleeping disorder and carries a ferret around in his shirt to wake him up; Pitch, the athlete with awesome climbing talents; and Melissa, the shy computer genius. How is he supposed to organize a plan if he doesn’t have them by his side?

But his friends do come to the rescue and manage to think of a couple of plans. They’ve drawn up a list of suspects who they believe had reason to steal the ring and pin the crime on Griffin. Now they just have to catch the culprit with the stolen goods. But they’re running short on time. If they don’t find the guilty party by the court date, Griffin will be locked up in juvenile detention.

As usual, Gordon Korman fills the pages with excitement, mystery, humor and lots of energy. The characters in his Griffin books (SWINDLE and ZOOBREAK) shine with personality and uniqueness, and readers will connect with at least one of them, whether he or she is interested in animals, sports, theater, or computers. One has to admire the characters’ initiative, spirit, creativity, enthusiasm and devotion to each other. A recurring theme in these books is friendship and working together with those friends to do the right thing, which puts a warm glow in the heart. The story flows really well from beginning to end, with lots of clues and misleads set in all the right places.

According to his website, Korman is currently working on a new trilogy about kids on the Titanic, and fans can only hope for more adventures with Griffin and his friends.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on December 1, 2011

by Gordon Korman

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2011
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0545197635
  • ISBN-13: 9780545197632