The New York Times
The Big Splashby Jack D. Ferraiolo
The treacherous, hormone-soaked hallways of Franklin Middle School are the setting for this sharp, funny noir novel about tough guys and even tougher girls. "The Frank"is in the clutches of a crime syndicate run by seventh-grader Vinny "Mr. Biggs" Biggio, who deals in forged hall passes and blackmarket candy. Double-cross him and your number is punched by/p>
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The treacherous, hormone-soaked hallways of Franklin Middle School are the setting for this sharp, funny noir novel about tough guys and even tougher girls. "The Frank"is in the clutches of a crime syndicate run by seventh-grader Vinny "Mr. Biggs" Biggio, who deals in forged hall passes and blackmarket candy. Double-cross him and your number is punched by one of his deadly water gun-toting assassins. One hit in the pants and you are in "the Outs" forever. Matt Stevens is a proud loner with his own code of justice. He's avoided being pulled into Vinny's organization until now: Mr. Biggs has offered him a job he can't resist, even if it means bringing down one of his oldest friends.
Nominated for an Edgar Award in 2009, The Big Splash revitalizes the noir novel while delivering a terrific, addictive mystery that crackles with wit and excitement.
Awards and praise for The Big Splash
2009 Edgar Award nomination
"Jack Ferraiolo shines a light on middle school and reveals what we've always suspected: It's a sinister place ruled by crime bosses and thugs. The Big Splash will make you laugh out loud."
--Jeff Kinney, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
"Entertaining and thrilling."
--New York Times Book Review
"An ingenious premise: junior high noir. . . . Twists and curve balls keep readers guessing; extended jokes will keep them laughing."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Well paced, funny, and suspenseful, with some real commentary on bullying and mob mentality."
--School Library Journal
"If middle school has an 'underworld,' this book is The Godfather and The Maltese Falcon all rolled into one. Better still, it's funny, and not just a little."
--Gordon Korman, author of Born to Rock
The New York Times
The seventh-grader version of a Raymond Chandler PI, Matt Stevens coolly navigates the mean streets (okay, the mean hallways) of Franklin Middle School in a first novel with an ingenious premise: junior high noir. Matt's classmate, the once-bullied Vinny Biggio, commands a whole "organization," complete with hit men, in this case boys and girls who use loaded squirt guns, stealth attacks and their peers' predictable responses (choruses of "Jimmy peed his pants!") to ensure their targets' permanent and total ostracism. The plot has to do with the spectacular takedown of one Nicole Finnegan, aka Nikki Fingers, the school's most feared "trigger-girl," that is, until her recent retirement from Vinny's operation. Just who ordered the hit on Nikki, and why? Twists and curve balls keep readers guessing; extended jokes like one about a petty thief's desperate need for cash ("On the surface, Peter was a happy-go-lucky model student, but underneath, he had a dirty little secret: He was a Pixy Stixer") will keep them laughing. With crisp prose and surprisingly poignant moments, Ferraiolo's debut entertains on many levels. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Matt Stevens is a seventh-grade Sam Spade who attends a middle school with an organized crime ring run by Vinny Biggs and his goons. Biggs traffics in forgeries, stolen exams, and candy, and has his competition regularly put in the "Outs" with humiliating water-pistol stains to the pants. A kid in the Outs is outcast for life-so when Nikki Fingers, Biggs's most-feared former hit woman, is taken down by an unseen assailant, Matt is hired by both her sister, Jenny, and Biggs himself to find the culprit. The result is a punchy, clue- and twist-filled plot that falls somewhere between Bruce Hale's "Chet Gecko" (Harcourt) and Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War (Knopf, 1974). Ferraiolo cleverly adapts hard-boiled whodunit roles to a slightly cartoonish middle school arena (Joey "the Hyena" is framed for the crime; Katie Kondo is the vigilant hall monitor chief; Jimmy Mac heads the school paper; Sal Becker runs a root-beer version of a dive bar in his toolshed). Matt's strained relationship with Kevin, a former best friend who's now working for Biggs, brings depth to his character, as do his crushes on both Jenny and Kevin's sister. An intriguing personal mystery involving Matt's father, who disappeared years earlier, remains unsolved by the end of the book, and Matt's mother has secrets yet to tell. Well paced, funny, and suspenseful, with some real commentary on bullying and mob mentality, this book will have fans eagerly awaiting the next installment in this faux noir detective series.-Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
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Read an Excerpt
An excerpt from the big splash
Vincent Biggs’s table was in the back right corner of the caf, strategically chosen for its view of the entire room. He was using his meaty hands to delicately eat a salad too green and fresh to have been gotten from the cafeteria. Sitting to his left was his right-hand man, Kevin Carling, eating potato chips one at a time, wiping the salt from his fingers after each one.
I crossed my arms and waited for Vinny to acknowledge my arrival, but he kept right on eating his salad. I checked my watch. My lunch period was slipping away. I cleared my throat too loud and too long to be authentic. “That’s doing wonders for your figure,” I said, nodding toward Vinny’s salad.
Vinny smiled in spite of himself. He looked at me. “A fat joke? Matthew, I expected better of you.”
“I guess getting manhandled makes me cranky.”
He shrugged, then dabbed the corners of his mouth with a napkin.
“Did you call me here just to watch you eat?” I asked. “Not that it isn’t fascinating.”
“Not quite,” he said. “Are you still for hire, or did things change over the summer?”
“I’m still a private detective, if that’s what you mean.”
“Excellent. I have a job for you.”
I stood up in a hurry. “Thanks, but no thanks. Not being one of your lackeys helps me sleep at night.”
“Matthew, why the hostility? I thought we got along.”
“We used to get along. Now we coexist.”
“Well, then let me put it to you this way . . . you were one of the few people who stood up for me before I attained my current position. I always felt like I should do you a favor somehow, so”
“Whoa,” I said, “the people you do favors for either land in detention or end up getting popped. How about just a thank you and a hearty handshake?”
“How about a thank you, a hearty handshake, and twenty dollars?”
My mouth snapped shut. Twenty bucks was a lot of money. I mean, there’s stuff I wouldn’t do for twenty bucks, but the list was pretty short.
Meet the Author
Jack D. Ferraiolo is the author of The Big Splash. He grew up in southern Connecticut and lives in northern Massachusetts. As the head of development at a children's animation production company, he has developed and writes for WordGirl on PBS, for which he won an Emmy. Visit him online at www.jackferraiolo.com.
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