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The Great Greene Heist

By Varian Johnson

Saving the school - one con at a time.

Jackson Greene has reformed.

No, really, he has. He became famous for the Shakedown in Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz.... But after Principal Kelsey caught him in his office, Jackson swore off scheming for good.

Then Keith Sinclair - the loser of the Blitz - announces he's running for school president, against Jackson's former almost-girlfriend, Gabriela de la Cruz. Gaby has been furious with Jackson ever since his last con, and she wouldn't want him involved in her election. But Jackson knows Keith has connections to Principal Kelsey, which could win him the presidency whatever the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team of talented troublemakers: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Bradley Boardman, artist. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. And 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 go down in history as the biggest con ever at Maplewood Middle School - one that could only be called The Great Greene Heist.

Reviews and Awards

A Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2014
2015 ALSC Notable Children's Book
A Bank Street College Center for Children's Literature Best Book of the Year

⋆ “It’s refreshing to read a story about middle-school life that’s smart, complicated, and funny, with a cleverly constructed plot and a sweet relationship between a boy and a girl…. 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

⋆ "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." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Johnson 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." - Publishers Weekly

"This fast-paced caper reads like Ocean’s 11 for the middle-school set, and that’s no coincidence: Johnson openly credits the film as inspiration, and he has pretty much pulled it off, right down to the dizzying plot twists, incredulous access to the latest tech, and unflappable swagger. Though the multicultural cast of wellrounded middle-schoolers make so many references to earlier high jinks that this occasionally seems like a sequel, the nonstop intrigue keeps the pages turning." - Booklist

"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." - School Library Journal

"With its fun cover, great premise, and kicky writing complete with twist, this book fulfills the childhood desire for autonomy while also knocking down stereotypes left and right." - Fuse #8

"As likely to appeal to fans of Andrew Clements’ school stories as Carter’s The Heist Society, this is a smartly crafted but breezy adventure that might just have students secretly cooking up schemes of their own." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"In his first novel for middle-grade readers, Johnson cleverly integrates familiar issues like cafeteria food, gossip and first crushed with dashes of politics and race. His cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, both in ethnicity (Jackson is African-American; his friends are Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian) and skill set (each member of the gang has a role to play, from tech support to inside man to closer)… 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." - New York Times online

"Reminiscent of Ocean’s 11… Readers will enjoy this fast-paced book and will stick with it to see how everything turns out in the end." - Voice of Youth

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Summer 2014
Middle Grade Novel
ISBN: 978-0-545-52552-7
Price: $16.99 /$18.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 240
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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