Fourth Stall
by Rylander, Chris

Sixth-graders Mac and Vince operate a business charging schoolmates for protection from bullies and for help to negotiate conflicts peacefully, with amazing challenges and results.

In this continuation of the Fourth Stall series, Mac and Vince are now in seventh grade and have shut down their advisory business. But then they get an offer they can't refuse and make the mistake of "selling" the business to a punky classmate. After a remorseful old nemesis enters the scene, Mac and Vince try to help his nemesis's little sister-who turns out to be running an advisory business of her own at another school. Rylander keeps up the delightful, boycentric beat, mixing bravado, embarrassments, and wisecracks with real wisdom. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Chicago Cubs-loving sixth-graders Mac and Vince continue to ply their trade of helping fellow students from their washroom office on a pay-per-solution basis. In this second installment, however, the biggest problems seem to be schoolwide: strange food in the cafeteria; a new Jekyll-and-Hyde teacher; and, certainly worst, a creepy new vice principal, who brings in an unbeatable standardized test called SMART. Rylander writes with hilarious wit, giving Vince spectacularly goofy monologues, and creates delightful minor characters. Those who enjoyed the first round will enjoy this second installment at least as well. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Sixth-graders Mac and Vince have been running an advice and assistance service for fellow grade-school students since they were in kindergarten. Mac is a problem solver, Vince is a whiz at keeping track of the money and favors they earn, and both boys are avid Chicago Cubs fans. Their "office" is located in an underused school bathroom, hence this first novel's title. The business takes a beating-and then so does the boys' friendship-when an older kid applies muscle to the threats he has made to grade-schoolers who owe gambling debts. Rylander has created a cast of memorable and varied characters, replete with emotional as well as social lives. Mac narrates the convoluted tale with the arch flatness of a 1940s satire of the noir detective genre, so swallowing even the more preposterous coincidences is easy for the sake of the story's fun. An excellent boy book that would do well in a father-son book discussion. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

In the third and final installment of the Fourth Stall saga, Mac and Vince are pulled back into the world of organized crime at their middle school. Life seemed simple for a while. Seventh grade had started, and Mac and Vince were no longer running their syndicate out of the fourth stall in the east-wing boys' bathroom. Their service had been to help middle schoolers with their problems…for a price. But Jimmy Two-Tone moves in to reopen it, offering a 15-percent cut to Mac and Vince since they had built the business in the first place. "[R]isk-free money," Mac thinks, until Jimmy's operation gets out of hand, and Jimmy finds himself in over his head. All of a sudden a higher power makes a play, demanding a repayment of debts along with permanent records on every student at the school, including addresses, grades and disciplinary records, loaded onto a flash drive. The story becomes so diffuse, implausible and unpleasant that readers will find all characters unlikable by the end. A series that seemed promising in the first volume and improving in the second becomes muddled here, boding ill for the hint of future volumes when Mac gets to high school. Readers of the previous installments will be eager to see how it all plays out, but they may well be disappointed. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Someone's out to destroy Mac's middle school, and Mac must find a way to stop him. Christian Barrett, called "Mac" after the television secret agent MacGyver, is a problem-solver, operating out of the fourth stall in the East Wing boys' bathroom in his middle school. For a price, he helps fellow students with their problems: taking care of a bully, forging hall passes, selling test answers, providing completed homework and selling prewritten research papers. And now an eighth-grade girl comes walking into Mac's "office" and wants Mac to take care of a mean teacher trying to get her expelled. But there's "something almost predatory" about this girl, like a rattlesnake, and Mac feels "like a small white mouse or whatever it is that rattlesnakes eat." Her story doesn't quite add up, and in trying to solve her problem, Mac both uncovers larger evil afoot and finds Vice Principal George breathing down his neck. This second installment does better than its predecessor at building and sustaining intrigue, as Mac and his right-hand man Vince must put a stop to Dr. George's evil machinations, even if it means putting himself and his business in jeopardy. Readers will be flushed with excitement to follow Mac's operations from the fourth stall. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Need something? Test answers, a hall pass, a doctor's note or a video game? Mac can get it for you. Just come to his office—the fourth stall from the high window in the East Wing boys' bathroom. He's only a sixth grader, but he owns his school—at least until legendary bad guy Staples shows up with his henchman, the Collector. Then, a turf war ensues, and people start getting hurt. Rylander's debut, billed as "Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets The Sopranos," demonstrates the dangers for those caught in the middle when bullies run the school. Mac's story may center on his office in the fourth stall (and sport a graphically terrific cover), but it is hardly flush with excitement, as it slowly delineates the chesslike match between schoolboy godfathers, setting up the final confrontation move by move. Although it will likely shed readers along the way, it implies a sequel at the end, and those who make it to the final pages will look forward to it. (Fiction. 9-13)


Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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