Would you want to join the League of Pickle Makers?
Sixth-grader Ben Diaz is not a troublemaker. (His best friend Hector’s grandmother is the persnickety principal of Fountain Point Middle School; troublemaking is inadvisable.) Ben does think harmless pranks enhance the school experience, though. So when he sees an ad for thousands of free ball-pit balls, he responds and fills his homeroom. It’s so much fun he starts a club of pranksters (by invitation only). The Prank and Trick Association (P.T.A.) masquerades as the League of Pickle Makers (’cause who would want to study veggie brining after school?). Several pranks later, the school’s abuzz, and the principal is cheesed off. Success! However, the exclusivity of the club jeopardizes Ben’s friendship with Hector, whose grandmother can get him to confess to anything. And then a rogue prank threatens to expose them all. Baker’s debut, with genial black-and-white illustrations by Probert, is a gently sarcastic, multicultural tale. The characters and conflicts are stock but no less entertaining for it. (The associated website with passwords and chat boards was not seen, but it sounds like a promising addition.)
Sure to please anyone with a puckish sense of humor or a hankering for innocent prank ideas. (Fiction. 9-12)