The Short Seller

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A twelve-year-old takes on the stock market in this money-minded middle grade novel that Publishers Weekly calls “a smart pick.”

It all starts when seventh grader Lindy Sachs is granted one hundred dollars and access to her father’s online trading account as a way to alleviate her boredom while she’s home sick from school.

Lindy learns something immediately—she is very, very good at e-trading. Her one hundred dollars soon becomes two hundred ...

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A twelve-year-old takes on the stock market in this money-minded middle grade novel that Publishers Weekly calls “a smart pick.”

It all starts when seventh grader Lindy Sachs is granted one hundred dollars and access to her father’s online trading account as a way to alleviate her boredom while she’s home sick from school.

Lindy learns something immediately—she is very, very good at e-trading. Her one hundred dollars soon becomes two hundred dollars. Then four hundred. And more. With trading talent and access to her parents’ savings, the opportunity to make some real dough is too tempting to pass up. In fact, given how well Lindy’s stocks are doing, it would be a disservice to not invest it all…Right?

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Editorial Reviews

The Bulletin
"This is a highly original story effectively told. A readable and interesting thought experiment for young tycoons, this would provide a unique opportunity to pair literature with a classroom study of the stock market."
"Weissman makes Lindy’s mistakes believable, all the while explaining the stock market, short selling, and insider trading in vivid terms...The entertaining story carries tension and drama."
Danica McKellar
"What a fun novel and a great way to get kids excited about the power of math in the real world! The protagonist, Lindy, evolves from math-phobic child to stock market whiz kid, learning that math is much more than a class at school; it's key to making money. All of this in a book that is fun and energetic and filled with relatable characters. Inspiring kids to see the value in math is one of my passions, and Elissa Brent Weissman has hit the nail on the head with The Short Seller."
Publishers Weekly
Weissman (Nerd Camp) chooses an unusual subject for middle-grade fiction—playing the stock market—as the focus for this lively and engaging novel, and it pays dividends. Sick at home, 12-year-old Lindy Sachs agrees to make a simple stock trade for her father while he’s at work. Excited by the transaction and intrigued by the concept of making money by investing in stocks, Lindy receives from her parents to try her hand at it as she recovers from mononucleosis. Careful research—reading trading charts, following day-trading blogs, and paying attention to current events—pays off; playing the market gives Lindy a new appreciation for math and the realization that she is good at using it to make money. But once Lindy succumbs to the temptation to play with her parents’ money, market dramas hit much too close to home. Weissman builds layers of suspense as Lindy fixes one disastrous situation only to be hit with an even worse blow; the author also smoothly weaves information about the stock market and finance into the story’s family dynamics and middle-grade friendship problems. A smart pick. Ages 8–12. (May)
From the Publisher
"Weissman builds layers of suspense as Lindy fixes one disastrous situation only to be hit with an even worse blow; the author also smoothly weaves information about the stock market and finance into the story’s family dynamics and middle-grade friendship problems. A smart pick."
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
How is a seventh grader stuck at home with mono supposed to pass the time? With one-hundred dollars and access to her dad's online account, Lindy Sachs is spending her days learning the ins and outs of day trading on the stock market. What Lindy discovers is that she is very good at e-trading. One-hundred dollars quickly multiplies to two-hundred dollars and it keeps going up. Then Lindy makes a big mistake, one that could cost her family everything. It will take all of Lindy's stock market know-how to try and solve this problem. Lindy Sachs is a fun character that pre-teens will easily relate to. While learning about the stock market, Lindy is also trying to deal with life in middle school. The situations are realistic and students will understand the emotions Lindy goes through. Weissman brings complicated financial procedures down to a level where students can easily gain a basic understanding of how day trading works and how money can be made or lost on the stock market. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—When seventh-grader Lindy Sachs comes down with mononucleosis, she feels as if she has contracted The Plague. She is trapped in her house for two weeks: no school, no friends, no fun. This all changes when her father gives her the password to his online trading account and $100 to invest at her own discretion. Lindy starts out investing five or ten dollars in her favorite companies, but after a few small successes and some research into online trading, she realizes the potential that investing can hold, especially when you have unfettered access to your parents' life savings. When a bad investment results in a $25,000 loss, Lindy has to scramble to make back the money, and navigate the resulting consequences of lawyers, the SEC, and possible jail time for her father. Weissman is successful in crafting a story that includes a young person's view of the crackdown on insider trading. The premise is a bit far-fetched, but the realistic friend and family interactions make up for this overreach in the plot.—Colleen S. Banick, Westport Public Schools, CT
Kirkus Reviews
A seventh-grader plays the stock market. Lindy isn't ready for her math test, and coming down with mononucleosis is one way to get out of going to school. In the month that Lindy's home sick, her father gives her $100 to play with on his stock-trading site. Though Lindy thinks of herself as "dense at math," she is more than able to pick up the concepts when they have a practical use. Aided by the book Buying Stock for Dummies, Lindy immerses herself in the stock market. Her rate of return on her $100 is excellent, so it's completely safe to dip into her parents' capital, right? But the stock market is more volatile than Lindy realizes--and so are junior high friendships. While she's been home focusing on the NASDAQ, her friends have formed new relationships without her. Lindy's enthusiasm is infectious but sometimes impenetrable. The mathematical and functional aspects of selling stock are explained fairly clearly, but the social aspects of finance, from CNBC to the Wall Street Journal, from television analysts to certified financial advisors, lack explication. While the slow start and trappings of finance culture will deter some readers, those who are drawn in by Lindy's passion and the fun math puzzles will be rewarded by a startlingly suspenseful conclusion, with far more at stake than mere classroom drama. (Fiction. 11-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442452565
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 675,826
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elissa Brent Weissman is the author of The Short Seller, Nerd Camp, Nerd Camp 2.0, and Standing for Socks as well as The Trouble with Mark Hopper. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Visit her at

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Read an Excerpt

The Short Seller

Chapter 1

Sweet Spot

Lindy yawned and weighed the options on the table. She could start her homework, or she could start eating her plate of warm minicookies. Like there was even a choice. She stacked two of the cookies and bit into them together.

“Double-decker,” Howe said. “You should eat one at a time so they last longer.”

“Nah,” said Lindy. She sucked a blob of melted chocolate off her finger. “That’s no fun.”

Howe slid into the booth opposite her and looked upside down at the books spread across the table. He barely even glanced at Lindy’s plate of cookies, which didn’t surprise Lindy but still amazed her. Somehow his dad being a baker had made Howe immune to the allure of sweets. Lindy thought if her dad worked at the Sweet Escape, she’d eat nothing but dessert.

“Are you ready for the math test on Friday?” Howe asked.

“Ugh, of course not.” Lindy laid her head on her arm. “Steph’s going to help me when she gets here. You should sit with us too. I can use all the help I can get.”

Howe didn’t try to hide his dislike for Steph. “I have to help my dad,” he said, nodding toward the counter. “But if you have questions, you can call me later.”

Lindy lifted her head, looked at her math book, and ate her third cookie. “Expect a call.”

The door chimed as it opened, and Howe slid out of the booth, which meant it was Steph who’d entered. She was decked out in winter gear, including gloves, scarf, hat, and long, puffy coat. The hood of her coat was up too, creating a spaceman-effect with just her eyes and nose visible. Her family used to live in Arizona, where it was always warm, so they prepared for the New Jersey winter the way they would a trip to Antarctica. Lindy knew Steph didn’t wear all the layers just for warmth, either. She had never owned a coat or any winter accessories before moving, so now, three years later, the novelty still hadn’t worn off.

“Hey, Lindy!” Steph said as she began removing layers. “Hello, Howard.”

“Hey,” Howe said. He stuffed his hands into the sleeves of his gray Windbreaker, his only jacket, no matter the weather. “I have to go help my dad. Later, Lind.”


Steph slid into the booth, piled her clothes next to her, and shook out her long brown hair. “Why does he always leave when I arrive?”

“Maybe because you call him Howard. He hates that name.”

Steph smiled. “That’s why I call him it.” She helped herself to one of Lindy’s cookies. “I stopped next door and picked up the new Teen Power,” she said. “It’s got five pages of quizzes.”

“Let me see,” Lindy said. She and Steph were suckers for quizzes. They liked ones that promised to predict your future, but even better were ones that claimed to interpret the present. “ ‘Are You Too Stressed?’ ” Lindy read. “If the answer is yes, do you think my mom will let me stop doing chores?”

“Probably not. Parents never appreciate the truth of magazine quiz results.”

“ ‘What’s the Best Hat for Your Face’s Shape?’ ”

“Ooh,” said Steph. “What do they suggest for a heart-shaped face? That’s what I have.”

Lindy looked at her friend and realized that her face was kind of shaped like a heart, with her center-parted hair forming the perfect bumps at the top.

“What shape is my face?” she asked Steph.

Steph didn’t even need to consider. “Oval.”

“And Howe’s?” Lindy asked.


Lindy looked at him behind the counter and saw that Steph was right. His face was round, while her own was longer. Clearly, Steph had given this some thought before. “Impressive,” she said. She went back to the magazine. “ ‘Who’s Your Celebrity Twin?’ I hope those answers are better than ‘What Is Your Spirit Animal?’ ”

“Shh!” Steph said, grabbing the magazine back from Lindy. “We promised to never speak of our spirit animals.”

It was true; the results were too humiliating. Steph’s was a sperm whale, which was embarrassing on multiple levels, and Lindy’s was a bull, which Lindy thought was exactly that.

“Here we go,” Steph said. “ ‘Are You Really Best Friends?’ ”

“We know the answer to that,” said Lindy. “How about ‘Will You Be Able to Do a Triple Axel Next Week?’ ” she said. She and Steph were starting ice-skating lessons next week, and they’d taken to trying triple Axels in their living rooms, in the hallway at school, and even as they walked down the street.

“We know the answer to that!” Steph said. “We’re going to be naturals.”

“Okay, then,” said Lindy. “Do they have ‘Are You Going to Pass the Math Test on Friday?’ ” She frowned. “I think I know the answer to that, too.”

Steph sighed and put the magazine away. “All right,” she said. “Let’s work on the homework.”

But the minute Steph started talking through the first problem, Lindy began to lose focus. Something about numbers just made her zone out. She tried to concentrate, but she found herself wishing she could lie down right there in the booth and fall asleep.


Lindy blinked. Howe was standing at the side of the table, and he was holding a paper plate full of chocolate-chip cookies that were a deep brown.

“Do you want these?” he asked. “This whole tray got kind of burnt, and my dad was going to throw them away, but he said you could have them if you want.”

“We don’t need your cast-off cookies, Howard,” said Steph.

“I wasn’t offering you,” Howe said. “I was offering Lindy.”

Lindy looked at the cookies. “Thanks,” she said, “but that’s okay.”

Steph smiled sweetly, but Howe just stared at Lindy. “Are you okay, Lind?”

“Yeah,” she said, “I’m just really tired for some reason.”

“Too tired for free cookies?” Howe said.

“No one wants your burnt cookies, Howard,” said Steph.

Lindy rubbed her eyes. She wasn’t in the mood to listen to them argue, and she certainly wasn’t in the mood to focus on homework. “I think I’m going to go home. I’ll call you guys later.”

Steph pouted. “You’re just going to leave me here?” she said.

“Leave you here, in the Sweet Escape, surrounded by deliciousness?” Lindy laughed as she filled her backpack. “I think you’ll survive.”

On her way out, she held the door open for Cassie, another girl from their class, and they smiled at each other.

“Hey, Cassie,” Lindy heard Howe say. “Do you want these cookies? They’re a little burnt, but you can have them for free.”

“Serious?” said Cassie. “Awesome!”

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