The Fourth Stall

The Fourth Stall

4.7 133
by Chris Rylander
     
 

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Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom,

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Overview

Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

Editorial Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
Draws in even the most apprehensive young reader… A robust story rich in action, adventure, humor, and friendship.
Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Rylander mines a substantial amount of humor and heart from this combination hard-boiled crime novel and middle-grade character piece. Sixth-graders Mac (the problem solver) and Vince (the financial adviser) have long run a fix-it business, helping kids get everything from loans to protection from bullies. When a third-grader named Fred claims he's being threatened by legendary dropout and crime boss Staples, Mac and his associates (including a group of oddball bullies that range from a third-grade "biter" to a skilled hacker) are drawn into a series of encounters that could lead to them getting beat up and losing the money they've made over the years. And since their beloved Cubs are about to make the World Series, losing that money means not being able to buy tickets. Rylander throws in some class issues—Mac and Vince met when living in a trailer park, but Mac's family now lives in a nicer house—and balances them with silliness (the title refers to the unused bathroom stall in which Mac's office is located). The resulting mix is a light and enjoyable caper. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
ALA Booklist
Mac narrates the tale with the arch flatness of a 1940s satire of the noir detective genre…Excellent.
Jon Scieszka
Here is an original-a story that really gets how guys are pals. It’s also funny, mysterious, and true to the heart of what really matters when you are in middle school. Do yourself a favor. Read it. Now.
VOYA - Devin Burritt
Sixth grader Christian "Mac" Barrett can get you just about anything: whether it is tickets to an R-rated movie, or getting the local lunch money thugs to lay-off, he is the middle school student to make it happen. He operates out of the fourth stall in an unused school bathroom with his best friend and bookkeeper. Mac's business is running smoothly until Fred, a third-grade student, comes to him for protection from Staples, the ringleader of a new high school gambling outfit. Staples is taking bets, fixing the games, and then beating up the kids who cannot pay. Mac decides that in the interest of protecting Fred, and the whole school, he must take Staples down. The Fourth Stall makes good use of nonsequitur humor and a healthy dose of schoolyard violence to draw in even the most apprehensive young reader. Once he has the audience captivated, Ryland eloquently weaves in a story of economic class struggle, the pressure it can put on a friendship, and what it can drive a person to do. The result is a robust story rich in action, adventure, humor, and friendship. The noir fiction feel of the novel adds an interesting dimension to the story, but the author's repetition of some distinct phrases detracts from the overall flow. The Fourth Stall is a particularly good fit for reluctant readers trying to transition into young adult literature from juvenile fiction. Reviewer: Devin Burritt
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Sixth-grader Mac is a fixer, a problem solver. He runs a thriving business helping kids with everything from test answers to bullying. With his best friend and fellow Cubs fanatic, Vince, he makes a tidy profit greasing the skids for his classmates. Working out of a stall in an unused restroom, the buddies have amassed enough cash to buy tickets to a World Series game should the Cubs finally make it. But a seemingly simple job protecting a third grader from bullies brings a confrontation with Staples, a thugish dropout who Mac thought was only a legend. Staples is expanding his gambling ring into Mac's territory, threatening his business, and Mac will need all of his considerable talents to deal with the older and far more ruthless villain and his assortment of nasty henchmen. The writing is witty and there are some memorable characters, but the pace will not keep reluctant readers engaged. Vince's frequent nonsensical quotations from bizarre relatives and the boys' exchange of Cubs trivia can also be tiresome. However, the story does have some suspense and action, and middle schoolers will enjoy the younger kids standing up to older teens and operating under the noses of clueless adults.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Need something? Test answers, a hall pass, a doctor's note or a video game? Mac can get it for you. Just come to his office—the fourth stall from the high window in the East Wing boys' bathroom. He's only a sixth grader, but he owns his school—at least until legendary bad guy Staples shows up with his henchman, the Collector. Then, a turf war ensues, and people start getting hurt. Rylander's debut, billed as "Diary of a Wimpy KidmeetsThe Sopranos," demonstrates the dangers for those caught in the middle when bullies run the school. Mac's story may center on his office in the fourth stall (and sport a graphically terrific cover), but it is hardly flush with excitement, as it slowly delineates the chesslike match between schoolboy godfathers, setting up the final confrontation move by move. Although it will likely shed readers along the way, it implies a sequel at the end, and those who make it to the final pages will look forward to it.(Fiction. 9-13)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061994975
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Series:
Fourth Stall Series, #1
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
130,048
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

Jon Scieszka
Here is an original-a story that really gets how guys are pals. It’s also funny, mysterious, and true to the heart of what really matters when you are in middle school. Do yourself a favor. Read it. Now.

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