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The Fourth Stall

Review

The Fourth Stall

Sixth-grader Christian Barrett, commonly known as Mac (short for MacGyver), can solve your problems. With his office conveniently located in the fourth stall in the East Wing boy's bathroom, Mac is open for business during recess and lunch and will work his magic --- for a small fee, of course. He and his best friend, Vince, can hook anyone up with test answers, forged doctor's notes, movie tickets, and anything else a kid might need. They have been operating their business for years, all for the hope of saving enough money to watch the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series. That is, if they actually make it. So far, business has been booming. But that was before Mac's latest case walked through the door on Monday morning.

Mac thought he was mistaken when little third-grader Fred said he needed protection from the high school crime boss Staples. Staples is supposedly a myth, a legend, something to scare kids into submission. After ruling the roost for so long, Mac was shocked to hear that Staples had set up his own betting ring right under his nose. Nobody messes with Mac's turf, so Mac and Vince reluctantly agreed to protect Fred and get to the bottom of Staples's plan. They just had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

Mac immediately went to his sources. He checked with Ears, a kid who knew all the gossip, and slowly started to piece things together. First, Mac, Vince and their small gang took out Staples's collector. Then, Mac decided to round up all the bullies in the middle school --- even the psycho kid they call Kitten --- and managed to stop kids placing bets and intimidate Staples's small gang. It looked as though Mac had won, but that was before Staples sent him a little message --- a dead rat in his locker --- and paid him a visit at his home.

Mac's world slowly starts to crumble. First, he and Vince have to crack into their Chicago Cub fund just to pay off the bullies and keep people quiet. Then, Mac's closest allies start to turn on him, and his business hits the skids. Just when it couldn't seem to get any worse, Mac discovers there's a snitch who has been relaying all of his plans to Staples. With nowhere else to turn, he calls upon his secret weapon: Tyrell. Adept at blending into the background and providing excellent surveillance, Tyrell eventually discovers the identity of the snitch, and Mac crumbles under the ultimate act of betrayal. You won't believe it!

Who says the mafia only exists in the adult world? THE FOURTH STALL is a hilarious look at the "business" dealings of a local K-8 school. It's jam-packed with the requisite references to The Godfather and pays homage to all the good mafia legends and stories. The nicknames for the kids and bullies are pitch-perfect, as are the physical and personality descriptions. You probably have these types of kids running around your school, but you've never seen them organized quite like this before. THE FOURTH STALL is a perfect setup to a series that is sure to be popular among anyone who enjoys organized crime at the school level.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on February 8, 2011

The Fourth Stall
by Chris Rylander

  • Publication Date: February 8, 2011
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press
  • ISBN-10: 0061994960
  • ISBN-13: 9780061994968