The Great Greene Heist


Jackson Greene swears he's given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he's running for Student Council president, against Jackson's former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it -- but he knows Keith has "connections" to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la...

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The Great Greene Heist

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Jackson Greene swears he's given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he's running for Student Council president, against Jackson's former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it -- but he knows Keith has "connections" to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby's respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school's greatest con ever -- one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Brianna Albanese
In his first novel for middle-grade readers, Johnson cleverly integrates familiar issues like cafeteria food, gossip and first crushes with dashes of politics and race. His cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, both in ethnicity…and skill set…It's a thrilling ride that may con reluctant readers into settling down on the couch with books like The Great Greene Heist instead of the remote control.
Publishers Weekly
Jackson Greene, 13, has exhibited “four months of model behavior,” an amazing feat considering that he naturally tends toward scheming, pranking, and dreaming (it runs in the family). After a kissing incident that’s been dubbed “Mid-Day PDA,” Jackson’s friend Gabriela de la Cruz isn’t speaking to him. Now Gaby’s friends have nominated her for school president, and conniving classmate Keith Sinclair is determined to win the election by any means necessary. Without a second thought, Jackson rounds up computer whiz Hashemi, Gaby’s newspaper editor brother Charlie, and several others in an attempt to revive his friendship (and maybe more?) with Gaby and save school clubs that could be cut if Keith is elected. Johnson (Saving Maddie) delivers an exciting Ocean’s Eleven–style caper for the middle-school crowd, with third-person narration jumping between the various plotters, who concoct an impressive seven schemes in less than three weeks. While in the big picture, the stakes are low, it’s easy to get swept up in the exploits of Johnson’s entertaining and diverse crew. Ages 10–14. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (June)
From the Publisher

“...Realistic and nuanced.” – KLIATT
“...there's wry humor here, and the sometimes raw dialogue is well done. What's most interesting, though, is the way Rhonda tries to get beyond her past as she channels her anger and pain into numbers and theorems.” – Booklist
"My Life as a Rhombus is a sensitive and powerful friendship story about two very different girls who connect over the toughest decision either of them will ever make. In his YA debut, author Varian Johnson offers a realistic, heartfelt, and thoughtful take on unplanned teen pregnancy from the perspective of a young math whiz trying to reconcile her future and past." -- Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize
"Johnson avoids heavy-handed messages with nuanced characters and a realistic treatment of Joshua and Maddie's complex relationship."-- Kirkus
"[A] sincere story...the questions Josh weighs about morality, God, and desire feel wholly genuine." -- Publishers Weekly
"Joshua's confusion about how narrow his path must be…keeps readers turning pages. And the kissing doesn't hurt, either." -- Booklist
"...lively and endearing..." -- School Library Journal
"Varian Johnson has created a cast of multi-dimensional characters which young adult readers will relate to in Saving Maddie. This tale leads its readers through the apprehensions and anxieties of young relationships, and asks the question of whether the 'lost' can be 'saved.'"-- Sacramento Book Review

"A political heist page-turner set in middle school? Is that even possible? Varian Johnson shows us how it's done." - Gordon Korman, author of SWINDLE

"Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately." - Rebecca Stead, author of WHEN YOU REACH ME

*"The lively (and racially diverse) cast of characters and the intricate plot will make this a story to read again for the sheer fun of it all"- Horn Book, starred review

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-26
Trying to go straight, troublemaker Jackson Greene succumbs to the lure of the con when it appears Maplewood Middle School's student-council election is being rigged against his friend Gaby de la Cruz. Although Gaby's been angry at Jackson for more than four months, the two could be more than just friends. And her twin brother, Charlie, Jackson's best friend, is worried about her electoral chances. So Jackson breaks rule No. 3 of the Greene Code of Conduct: "Never con for love. Or even like." During the week before the election, a delightful and diverse cast of middle school students with a wide range of backgrounds and interests concocts a series of elaborate schemes to make sure the Scantron-counted ballots will produce honest results. While all this is going on, Gaby is busily campaigning and rethinking her love life. References to previous escapades are so common readers may think this is a sequel, and the cast of characters is dizzying. But the results are worth it. Allusions to Star Trek abound. There is a helpful appended explanation of the cons and their shorthand references as well as the Greene Code. The elaborate bait and switch of this fast-paced, funny caper novel will surprise its readers as much as the victims. They'll want to reread immediately so they can admire the setup. (Fiction. 10-15)
Children's Literature - Jill Walton
Jackson believes in following rules, at least the rules he learned from his grandfather Greene. It is time for Rule 15: If you’re going to pull a con, know how to pull a con in style. Jackson already has a reputation; he’s allegedly behind a few masterful plots at Maplewood Middle School. The last one went a little awry. Now Jackson Greene is/was going straight, he is more than a con and he has to regain a girl’s respect even if she does not want anything to do with him. That girl, Gaby is running for school president and she seems to not need his help. But the principal and a rich student are in cahoots Those two don’t seem to have any morals. Jackson can see it is going to be complicated and the stakes are high. The learning curves are challenging. See rule 12: Do your homework. Secondhand research yields D-minus results. Jackson needs is a crack team to help. Will he find them in time? This author knows his audience and doesn’t let them down. Middle readers will like the humor and recognize good cons when they see them. The characters are memorable and the dialogue is smooth. Reviewer: Jill Walton; Ages 10 to 14.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—After his last heist went bad and he lost Gaby, the girl he liked, Jackson Greene swore off breaking the rules. But when his old nemesis, Keith Sinclair, plans to steal the school election from Gaby and cut the budget for every afterschool activity except the Gamer Club, Jackson decides to use his con-man skills yet again. Jackson does a little digging and discovers that Keith plans on rigging the election by bribing the principal with a large donation from his father. Can Jackson save the day by stealing the election back for his friend or will his nemesis beat him at his own game? The characters are likable, if a bit thin. Although the premise is implausible, the plot is fast paced, well developed, and has a lot of unique twists and turns that will draw readers in from start to finish. Hand this unique book to kids who like mystery, adventure, and Robin Hood-esque stories.—Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545525527
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 144,368
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Varian Johnson is the author of three novels for young adults, including MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS and SAVING MADDIE. He lives with his wife and daughter near Austin, Texas, where he designs bridges as a civil engineer. Please visit his website at or follow him on Twitter at @varianjohnson.
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