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Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker and Illustrated by Tim Probert
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 240
Ages: 8-12
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository
Publishers Summary:

Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling homeroom with ball-pit balls.
Frank: who figured out that an official club, say a pickle-making club, could receive funding from the PTA.
Oliver: Who once convinced half of the class that his real parents had found him and he was going to live in a submarine.
Bean: Who wasn’t exactly invited, but her parents own a costume shop, which comes in handy if you want to dress up like a giant squirrel and try to scare people at the zoo.

TOGETHER, they are an unstoppable prank-pulling force, and Fountain Point Middle School will never be the same.

On the outside Ben Diaz looks like your typical sixth grade boy. He goes to school each day, helps out at his parents restaurant from time to time, has the same best friend since he was little, but even his best friend doesn’t know about the mischief Ben is about to get himself into. Beginning with the remnants of a ball pit gone bad, Ben discovers that living on the edge of trouble keeps life interesting and fun even if it does mean learning how to pickle a few random foods to protect the identities of his fellow pranksters. What Ben and the members of the Pickle Club don’t expect though is how their “fun” affects nearly everyone at Fountain Point middle school and could lead to the end of all clubs at the school.

Before I get into how much I truly loved Pickle by Kim Baker I should first disclose that I met Kim, the author, at ALA earlier this year way before Pickle was published. We first met at a get together of fellow middle grade book reviewers and authors, but for the remainder of the conference we kept bumping into each other. It was a lot of fun and I have to say that meeting and chatting with Kim completely sold me on reading Pickle once I could find a copy. Obviously not every book lives up to those types of expectations, but Pickle did. This was a book that, had I seen in the bookstore or at the library, I would have picked up instantly based on the cover and synopsis alone, but I’m glad to have been given the nudge to read it based on my few interactions with Kim because it was fantastic.

Now for the story. The full title of the book, Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School, made absolutely no sense to me when I first heard about it. Here was this incredibly long, slightly random, title but it without a doubt grabbed my attention. A prank club that involved pickles? I was sold on the hilarity of that alone. Within the first couple of chapters I’d laughed so much that the initial snide looks I got while waiting for Littlebug’s dance class to finish turned into intrigue at what I was reading. It’s true, I had nearly every mom of these three and four year old little girls begging to know what was so hysterical and where could they get a copy. In the beginning of Pickle it’s all about that slightly disgusting middle school “boy” humor, the type you want to turn away from when you see it but you can’t seem to pull your eyes off of despite knowing better. Kim Baker knows exactly how the mind of a young boy (and girl) works and excutes that humor perfectly. From the disgusting smell of years old ball pit balls to a plastic wrapped sink in the bathroom turned into a very embarrassing stain for those unfortunate enough to come across it. Each prank the reader encounters creates a perfect comedic relief, but do be warned that if you don’t like laughing in public make sure to read Pickle at home.

As for the characters, it’s hard to say but I haven’t read a better or more diverse group since The Fourth Stall series by Chris Rylander. That’s very high praise, seeing as I loved The Fourth Stall and it’s characters so much. Pickle by Kim Baker was one of the few realistic middle grade books I’ve read that I felt expressed how it is to be a kid during this difficult time of life. Ben and his friends don’t have major issues facing them, but life isn’t easy either. Their desire to break out of the monotony of life and find a place to fit in within their world comes through with their pranks, but on a whole they’re just kids looking to have a good time despite a few bumps in the road. It was refreshing to read a funny, well-written middle grade book about real kids in real plausible situations that didn’t also make me feel like I had an agenda being forced on me. Yes, there’s definitely a situation that arises toward the end that could feel that way, but the path the author takes you on is balanced and of course, infused with humor.

What Ben Diaz and his friends learn throughout Pickle by Kim Baker, is that friendship and enjoying life is what should be cherished above all else. Bending the rules and playing a few harmless pranks bring the group, and even a few outsiders, together. This is the first realistic middle grade fiction book since reading The Fourth Stall series by Chris Rylander that I’ve felt had everything, from well rounded characters to perfect comedic timing. If you’re in need of a quick read that will have you laughing hysterically, believing completely in the characters and possibly planning your own trickery then Pickle by Kim Baker is your book. I’m thrilled Pickle lived up to and exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait to read more from Kim Baker as the years move forward!

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 7 to 15. A fantastic debut novel from Kim Baker! Hilarious and real. A quick read that young and old will love, but would be especially great for reluctant readers.

Find Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker and Illustrated by Tim Probert at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads

Thank you so much to the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook!
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4 Responses to Book Review: Pickle – The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker

  1. PragmaticMom says:

    Looks so perfect for boys!

  2. […] The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 6 to 13. A hilarious take on the life of fifth grader. This is perfect for readers who loved Kim Baker’s novel Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School. […]

  3. Linda says:

    This book is the best for kids in 5th grade. I read it myself. I love Kim Baker

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