Middle school hustler Max Corrigan ups his game to manage a hard-fought campaign for class president.
Being ever the man with a plan, Max adroitly pushes the never-named New Kid into the race. What does a winning campaign need? First, an issue…so how about promising to get the schoolwide ban on chewing gum lifted! Next on the agenda: line up a talented staff, hot teacher endorsements, and media attention for the “pro-gum candidate.” Offering fiendishly plausible pointers on such skills as fake-reading an assigned book and impersonating callers on the phone, Max lays out a strategy that can’t miss—unless, that is, a rival “one-percenter” candidate with a clever manager of his own steals the vote with glittering promises and showers of expensive swag. Using second-person narration addressed at the New Kid, Swaab tells the tale between the lines of Max’s glib patter and frantic reactions to being outmaneuvered; cartoon line drawings on nearly every page convey side comments and punch lines. Max looks white, but names and, in the pictures, hair styles and facial features hint at some diversity in the cast. Readers who identify with the never-seen New Kid can pat themselves on the back as “you” repeatedly come through in the clutch.
Even readers with no political aspirations can pick up several useful cons. (Fiction. 10-12)