When Cody and his friends accept a challenge from a local gang to steal a park bench, their main concern is keeping themselves on the gang's good side. Cody learns that the stolen bench had been dedicated to the father of the English teacher who sponsors the school newspaper--the paper that Cody has just started writing for--and he's worried about the consequences. As the gang applies pressure for more from Cody and his friends, he realizes they've crossed a line, and now he has...
When Cody and his friends accept a challenge from a local gang to steal a park bench, their main concern is keeping themselves on the gang's good side. Cody learns that the stolen bench had been dedicated to the father of the English teacher who sponsors the school newspaper--the paper that Cody has just started writing for--and he's worried about the consequences. As the gang applies pressure for more from Cody and his friends, he realizes they've crossed a line, and now he has to figure out how to make it right.
"Cody's trials demonstrate how hard it is to be a freshman. The story resolves itself in a satisfying way...The characters are likable...and their prank and its consequences are very believable."
"Packs in a lot of issues for one small paperback, but reluctant readers, especially, will be hooked as the tension builds, and the realistic story, which avoids a slick resolution, will spark discussion."
"Watson delivers a fast-paced, quick and easy read...A fun sneak peek into someone else's life...[and] a good addition to the Orca Currents series."
- Denise Daley
Cody and his friends, Taz and Bowman, are scared when Beaker's gang approaches them. Beaker says that he has a proposition for Cody and his buddies. All they have to do is rid the town park of a bench and then they will be eligible for an even better opportunity. Stealing the bench was not easy. Cody and his friends had to dig the cement feet from the ground and carry the bench to Bowman's garage where they disassemble it and burn the wood. Beaker and his gang are impressed. They offer money to Cody and his friends if they are willing to perform an even more daring stunt. Cody is in so deep now that he is not sure how to get out. Combined with this, Cody feels even more guilt when he learns that the bench was actually in memory of his English teacher's father who enjoyed sitting in the park and watching the ducks. Can Cody stop committing deeds for Beaker's gang without getting pulverized? Will anyone find out his involvement in the stolen park bench? How can he make this situation better instead of worse? The text does not have a great amount of detail, but it makes this book quick and easy to read. Many teenagers will identify with Cody as he confronts bullies and struggles with making the right choices. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Cody and his friends are coerced by members of his brother's gang to perform what seems like a harmless prank: steal a bench from the local park. After the boys pull off the feat, Cody realizes that the bench was a memorial to his favorite teacher's father. To make matters worse, he is asked to cover the story for his school newspaper. When the gang members approach Cody and his friends again, they begin to understand that they are headed down a one-way street toward trouble. Tension mounts when Cody decides to confess the crime to his teacher and the newspaper editor. He must then find a way to make amends with his teacher, report the story fairly, and withdraw from the gang's violent pressure. Though reluctant readers may find themselves caught up in a situation beyond Cody's control, they may be disappointed in the ending as the boy's troubles neatly resolve themselves. Stilted dialogue and regional colloquialisms will turn off others. Inner city readers with their own gang experiences may cry, "Foul!" since Cody's encounters don't seem authentic. The overt moral will finish off the rest. Benched needs to remain benched, er, shelved.—H. H. Henderson, Heritage Middle School, Deltona, FL
Cristy Watson is a teacher who loves reading and writing poetry and YA novels. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived in San Francisco, Kamloops, Comox, North Vancouver and now resides happily near the beach in sunny White Rock, British Columbia. Cristy hosts open-mic readings at her local coffee shop and likes to enter writing contests, especially ones where there is a challenging time limit.