4.5 2
by Carol Gorman

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Mick Sullivan likes reading thrillers, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and teasing his archenemy, Boot Quinn.

Boot Quinn likes playing his guitar, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and punching his adversary, Mick Sullivan.

The two eighth graders are rivals in every way, and with two fights in the first week of school, they've set the stage for a yearlong


Mick Sullivan likes reading thrillers, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and teasing his archenemy, Boot Quinn.

Boot Quinn likes playing his guitar, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and punching his adversary, Mick Sullivan.

The two eighth graders are rivals in every way, and with two fights in the first week of school, they've set the stage for a yearlong showdown. That is, until a new principal arrives on the scene and forces Mick and Boot to spend an hour and a half each day playing games together. Two enemies, one small room, and no adult supervision—battle lines are bound to be crossed.

As the wins and losses are tallied, the boys find themselves fighting for their classmates' attention, a cute girl's affection, and their own fathers' respect.

But how far are they willing to go to win? And who are they really fighting?

There's only one way to find out.

Game on.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - C. J. Bott
Eighth graders Boot and Mick have been rivals forever, keeping everyone at school entertained by their ongoing feud. The new principal tries something different from suspension after their latest fight. The two boys will meet every day in the office, play board games, and have lunch. Boot and Mick come to trust each other as they have never trusted anyone before. Mick's mom decides that she and Mick need to move away from Mick's alcoholic dad. Boot lives with an older brother and a physically abusive dad, who wakes Boot up every morning with a pitcher of cold water. Mick helps Boot after the worst beating. The title perfectly reflects the many levels of games being played in this story-by the two boys, by other students, and by adults. The subtitle is simply wrong because Mick and Boot are not bullies; they are co-conspirators. There is not an imbalance of power; each gives as good as he gets. But sweet, manipulative Tabitha is a bully by stirring the emotions in these two boys, flirting with both and using their jealousy to fuel their competition. Then she takes bets on who will win and keeps tally on the bathroom wall. This novel is a great book for middle school students, well scripted, realistic, and entertaining. The characters are true and understandable, and what Mick and Boot struggle through makes them the heroes of their own lives.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Forced to play games with your foe until you can learn to get along: what kind of punishment is that? There's nothing 8th-grade archenemies Boot and Mick enjoy more than taunting and then socking each other, but the new principal at their middle school is determined to change their behavior and so devises this unusual sentence. In alternating chapters, the two boys tell their stories. Both have difficult home lives; smart aleck Mick finds solace in reading, despite his alcoholic father, while tough guy Boot, who loves playing guitar, tries to avoid his physically abusive dad. Both boys have a crush on pretty, manipulative Tabitha, who eggs them on in their rivalry as it escalates to dangerous dares—and takes bets on the outcome, they discover. The boys do bond eventually, of course, and when Boot runs away, Mick is the only one who knows where to find him and what to do. While their reconciliation is predictable, readers, especially boys, will enjoy getting to know the sympathetic protagonists. Gorman, the author of Dork in Disguise and other books for younger YAs, tells the tale with humor and flair. The ending provides drama as Mick and Boot discover which wars are worth waging, but a message about informing a responsible adult about the beatings Boot has endured would have been appropriate.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
When eighth graders Boot Quinn and Mick Sullivan get into their second fight, the new principal sentences them to lunch games together, more than an hour a day of enforced company. Both classmates and school staff expect continued violence, placing bets on the outcome. The result will be familiar to readers of Chris Crutcher's books: the boys get to know each other better, realize they each have serious problems with their fathers, and stop fighting. Boot's father beats him—so badly, in fact, that he is half deaf. Mick's alcoholic father thinks his book-loving son is a wuss. In alternating first-person narratives, the boys describe their experiences, revealing their growing attraction to Tabitha Slater who eggs them on, and their feelings about a set of dares that provokes each into spoiling something they care about. Each boy has redeeming qualities; the author seems to suggest that perhaps others' expectations are part of the bullying games people play. The action moves quickly and middle school life is realistically portrayed. While the outcome may be predictable, middle school readers will enjoy the journey.
School Library Journal

Gr 6–9
In alternating voices, two feuding middle schoolers describe the hostility that has brought them to blows. Book lover and aspiring writer Mick Sullivan is a big kid who has no interest in sports, much to his alcoholic father's disappointment. Music lover Boot Quinn, whose mother has left the family, is ignored, neglected, and sometimes abused by his father and older brother. The boys' private pain boils over in one another's presence as adolescent bravado and peer pressure lead them into frequent fistfights. Neither one is ready for the solution that the new principal has devised: for two periods each day, they are sequestered in his inner office to play board games until they can learn to get along. At first this brings their enmity into sharper focus, particularly as Boot's feelings of inferiority are exacerbated by Mick's playing skills. Goaded by fellow students, the boys challenge each other to a serious dare involving betrayal of the things they hold most dear. Complicating matters further, both boys have a crush on classmate Tabitha, who is secretly taking bets on how their battles will turn out. The plot is taut and compelling, with deft, sympathetic characterization, memorable scenes, and right-on description of the middle-school culture. Despite Mr. Maddox's clever handling of the boys, there are no simple solutions and the story ends with only a glimmer of hope that Mick and Boot can be friends. A must-read for adolescents and those trying to understand them.
—Marie OrlandoCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Two middle-school boys have an affinity for getting into fights with each other to the point where schoolmates are taking bets against them. Boots doesn't like Mick because of his perceived superiority complex. Mick doesn't hate Boots; he just can't resist the opportunity to instigate fights with him. Following the latest fight, the new principal, rather than suspending them, requires the two to play games together everyday for several hours through lunch. The fights escalate to "dares." Mick is dared to throw paint on the library and statues in front of it-of particular meaning to him, an avid reader. Boots is dared to steal something from the music store owned by a man who treats Boots better than his abusive father. Both boys regret the dares but must live with the repercussions. Will the games allow the boys to work through their differences, or will the fights become more than they can handle? Full of heartbreak and betrayal, this realistic tale will give middle-school readers something to ponder. (Fiction. 11-15)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.97(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Carol Gorman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Carol Gorman
All right reserved.

Chapter One

Boot's Turn

I walk down the hall before school starts and nod at the Water Street kids. They say, "hey," or nod back, like we're brothers. I hardly look at the jocks or the pretty boys. I'm a ghost to them, invisible--they don't even know I'm here. Everybody's opening their lockers and slamming them shut.

"Hey, Boot!" a voice calls out. I turn to see Jerrod Kitchen standing at his locker. "We got a game after school," J.K. says. (All the Water Street kids call him by his initials.) "Meet at the Corner."

I hold up my hand to tell him I'll be there. That's when I see Mick Sullivan coming down the hall. He's watching me, and he's got this big smile on his face that says he thinks he's better than everybody else. That smile alone makes me want to smash him. He's a big kid, built like a road grader. He plants himself right in front of me so I have to look up to see him, and he grins down at my face. "Hi, Boot, you lunatic. You've been on my mind. . . . You want to know why?"

"No," I say.

People stop to watch. Some are my friends--kids from Water Street. They have big, staring eyes and kind of a bloodthirsty look. They expect me to throw the first punch as usual. Even though he's got thirty pounds on me, I'm not scared.

He goes, "It's because I realized last night who you remind me of: Yosemite Sam. You know, that guy in the Bugs Bunny cartoons with the cowboyclothes and the long mustache? He's got a very bad temper, and he's always shooting off his guns the way you shoot off your mouth."

I hear a few snickers around me.

"I think I'll start calling you 'Yosemite.' How do ya like that?"

More snickers.

I'm tired because I didn't get much sleep last night, so I don't punch him, even though he deserves it. Instead of hitting him, I look up his nostrils and say, "You got a booger up there."

Everybody laughs loud now, so on the scorecard in my head, I give myself a point.

Mick takes a step back and laughs. "That's it?" He holds out his hands, palms up. "That's all ya got?" He laughs again. "I expected you to take a punch or at least insult me."

"He said you got a booger up your nose, Sullivan," J.K. says. I realize now he's standing behind me. "Seems like an insult to me."

"Yeah." But I say it a second or two too late, so I sound like a little kid who's letting his big brother do the talking.

Mick goes, "That's no insult. You should've said something really insulting like . . ." He stares over my head and squints like he's thinking real hard. "Hmm, something like, 'I once scraped something off the bottom of my shoe that looked like you.' Or wait, here's another one: 'You look familiar--oh, no, I was thinking about something I baited my hook with once.' That wasn't too bad. Or you could even have said, 'Hey, is that your face, or did your neck throw up?'"

Even my friends laugh at that one. I suddenly feel hot, and my armpits are sweating.

Mick grins down at me. "That last one is especially funny, if I do say so myself."

"How about this one?" I ask him. "'I hear your dad was thrown in the slammer for drunk driving again. He might as well be lying in a gutter somewhere with the rest of the garbage.'"

That gets him like I thought it would. He freezes a second, then lunges at me, and knocks me over. He gets down and starts slugging me in the stomach. Mick isn't tough, but he's big, and he's really mad, so he doesn't pull his punches. I don't feel the pain now--that'll come later. Right now I'm thinking about holding my own. I get in some good licks before Mr. Jefferson hauls Mick up by his collar to a standing position.

"That's it, Sullivan," he yells in Mick's face. "You, too, Quinn," he hollers at me as I get to my feet. "What's the matter with you boys? Didn't your last suspensions teach you anything?" He grabs my arm in a steel-vise grip and marches us down the hall toward the principal's office. Everyone turns to watch; some look disgusted, but a few of my friends hold their fists up in kind of a salute to me.

Mr. Jefferson doesn't let go till we're in the main office. He points at two chairs. "Sit. And no talking." He leans over and says something I can't hear to Mrs. Taylor, the principal's secretary. She nods and shoots us a mean look. He walks into the principal's office. I don't hear too good out of my left ear, so I turn to point my right ear in the direction of the office. I figure he's talking to the principal. His name is Mr. Block, but most of us call him Blockhead. Not to his face, though.

Then I remember. Mr. Block had a heart attack. I heard the teachers say it was because of all the years of putting up with the rotten kids at this school, but they're wrong. He didn't put up with us at all. He was always suspending people for a week. Two weeks ago it was me. And Mick Sullivan.

Mick sits on the chair across from me. I don't look at him. I'm sick and tired of how he's always in my face, acting like he's better than me. I knew calling his old man a piece of garbage would make him mad, but I didn't make up the part about the drunk driving. I heard it from three people.

Mr. Jefferson comes out of the principal's office and gestures for Mick and me to come. We get up and walk behind the counter and into Blockhead's office.


Excerpted from Games by Carol Gorman Copyright © 2007 by Carol Gorman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Carol Gorman is the author of many books for young readers, including Dork In Disguise, Dork on the Run, and A Midsummer Night's Dork. Ms. Gorman lives with her husband, writer Ed Gorman, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she also teaches at Coe College.

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Games 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is prety cool. i relate cuz im in 8th grade too. defenatly read!