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The Ultimate Middle School Heist Novel for December 2015!

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | December

great greene heist001The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Arthur A. Books for Middle School AgeLevine Books / Scholastic, Inc., 2014.

When Jackson Greene learns classmate Keith Sinclair is trying to steal the election for eighth grade class president—with the help of the principal no less!—he steps up. It might not be the noblest of intentions that convinces him to get involved, but it’s not wholly selfish, either. Jackson’s friend Gaby de la Cruz is Keith’s opponent. Although they had a falling out, Gaby is still someone Jackson likes—a lot—while her twin brother, Charlie, is his best friend. And then there’s the fact that outsmarting Keith and the principal means running a con, something Jackson happens to like doing, and is very, very good at. But he can’t do it alone, so he and Charlie put together a team, each member with specific skills necessary to complete their part of a plan that involves technology, psychology, and a series of carefully crafted interactions. Varian Johnson’s entertaining tale has all the machinations of the best con games, but is set against the backdrop of a contemporary middle school. Johnson’s intentionally diverse cast of characters feels natural rather than heavy-handed in a story of humor and hijinks featuring a winning African American protagonist who, it turns out, is carrying on family tradition.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is a classic con or heist story. Different genre elements are present in Great Greene Heist that make it recognizable as a heist or con story. What are some things that make this book fall into the heist genre?
  2. Some passages in this book make Keith seem sympathetic. Provide some examples of this from the book. Did you ever feel sorry for him? Why or why not?
  3. Jackson is a student, a friend and a con man. What qualities does Jackson possess that makes him a good con man? What are some qualities that Jackson a good friend?
  4. Do you agree with the actions that Jackson takes to help his friend? Why or why not? Is it ever okay to break rules?

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