BFFs George Martinez and Lilly Bloch get themselves into a difficult position when they become the captains for opposing fifth-grade teams during their school’s spirit week.
Lilly is way too competitive, whereas George has always preferred the path of least resistance. Lilly’s spirit seems to fuel in her teammates the fire to win, no matter how. Meanwhile, George is too passive to rein in his fervent classmates, who are equally willing to do whatever it takes to get the prize. Speculation on the mystery prize at stake gets wilder and more improbable as the week passes. Both teams cheat, engaging in a series of dirty tricks that drive a wedge between George and Lilly but that neither does much to control. It’s only after a series of funny, messy disasters that the pair finally realizes that standing by and letting their teammates cheat without intervening makes them guilty too. For the last day’s event, a field day, Lilly and George work together, trying to derail any planned misbehavior—of which there is plenty—each eventually confronting the worst of the bad kids and their own demons as well. Related in distinctive alternating voices, the tale features ample over-the-top situations with character development taking second place to high jinks. George has light brown skin, like his evidently Latino dad, and Lilly is white.
An amusing road map to bad behavior but also a fairly subtle reminder of the culpability of mere bystanders to nastiness. (Fiction. 9-12)