The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander Stars: Two and a half stars out of five Summary: Sixth-grader Mac and his business partner/best friend, Vince will help you with your problems—for a price. Business is going well until a third grader claims he’s being threatened by well-known crime boss and dropout, Staples. First time author Chris Rylander weaves film noir and Godfather themes into a well-written story with a great cast of characters that boys will not be able to put down. (from http://mackinbooksinbloom.com/2011/05/19/elementary-books-for-boys/) Audience: I think the target audience is kids in grades four to eight… Caveat – your fourth-grader needs to be a precocious reader, while your eighth-grader may be less-interested in a book about sixth graders. Also, there are no major female characters, so girls who require a girly book will be disappointed.
The Fourth Stall is a kids’ mystery/suspense book, written in the style of Goodfellas or The Godfather. I requested it from the library based on the surprising descriptions of wise-guys and moral ambiguity via the Excelsior File.
The writing is funny, and the book certainly starts off with witty narration by Mac. I was amused, but overall a tiny bit disappointed. I was hoping for laugh-out-loud funny, even absurdity, because of the implausible film-noir tone. What happened instead was the threat of takeover was real, and there were moral dilemmas in multiple directions. The energy level stayed fairly consistent throughout, instead of cranking up to antic. I had hoped for antic. 😉
Along with the wiseguy tone, the characters are the best part of the book. Mac and Vince are solid leads, while the school bullies are amusingly described.
It’s a solidly-written book, but despite styling it after the Godfather it was too light to interest me as an adult.
I will probably request the next novels from Chris Rylander for my kids only.
Spoilers and other reviews below
I didn’t expect the violence. Mac really gets beat up, and Staples actually tries to run Mac over with a car. This just seemed not to fit. Wouldn’t most sixth-graders be more upset by this?
Other reviews of The Fourth Stall (added by me, not generated)
- Books In Transit reviews The Fourth Stall–
- Guest review by a 10-year-old boy
- Excelsior File reviews 4th Stall
Did I overlook your review? Let me know in a comment, and I will add the link here.