A year after Camp Average’s surprise baseball-tournament win, Mack—outraged at hypercompetitive camp director Winston’s wily manipulations—leads another rebellion; the battlefield this time is basketball.
To boost competitive sports, the camp’s now coed, drawing talented athletes in search of opportunities unavailable at local girls’ camps. Frustrated that his makeover hasn’t netted significant wins, Winston announces he’s entered the camp in a prestigious basketball tournament, and the boys’ and girls’ teams will play each other to determine which enters the tournament. Mack likes basketball but resists joining the team until his preferred activities are mysteriously banned. Given proof of foul play (and responding to a request), Mack decides to sabotage Winston’s efforts, recruiting helpers to undermine both basketball teams’ series performances. Planting a rumor that a college scout is watching proves wildly successful: Players abandon teamwork to focus on showcasing their individual prowess. Performance suffers, both teams are dispirited, and after Mack’s role is revealed, he’s shunned. It’s bad when Mack’s plans don’t work, Miles tells him, but “somehow even worse” when they do. Watching the events unfurl in this sequel is rewarding and entertaining. While Winston’s villainy can seem cartoonish, the girls—like the boys—are amiably convincing. Names and descriptions for both imply racial and cultural diversity; Mack seems to be default white. Intergender relations among these middle schoolers are strictly platonic. A final twist forecasts further adventures.
A funny, satisfying exploration of the thematically rich territory between winning and losing. (Fiction. 8-13)