I consider myself a pretty objective person. So when my daughter’s class started reading the book Swindle by Gordon Korman I thought I would read it along with her to discuss it with her. After all reading comprehension is a big part of anyone’s education. It was on the school’s list for books kids should read, so I thought how bad could it be? So about the book..

Ocean’s 11 . . . with 11-year-olds, in a super stand-alone heist caper from Gordon Korman!

After a mean collector named Swindle cons him out of his most valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing must put together a band of misfits to break into Swindle’s compound and recapture the card. There are many things standing in their way — a menacing guard dog, a high-tech security system, a very secret hiding place, and their inability to drive — but Griffin and his team are going to get back what’s rightfully his . . . even if hijinks ensue.
This is Gordon Korman at his crowd-pleasing best, perfect for readers who like to hoot, howl, and heist.

My daughter loves action/ mystery novels so I thought it could be fun, but I was shocked at some of the content of this book. The very first line of the book says “When lying to your  parents maintain eye contact.” Lying is something we do not encourage under ANY circumstances in our home. The entire book was dedicated to two robbery attempts to try and steal a baseball card that was swindled from Ben and Griffin. A card they originally stole themselves from a house they broke into and stayed the night in. Yes the house was being demolished in the morning. So when Griffin and Ben (both eleven years old) get a team of other kids to attempt to break into the pawn shop owners house, after of course they broke into the pawn shop and discovered the card had been moved, that is where the story starts to get worse.

So up until the last five pages of the book the entire book was dedicated to setting up plans for the break ins and executing them, I still held out hope that the kids would see the error of their ways and attempt to turn it around. Well that didn’t happen.  What made it even worse was when they got caught (because they did get caught by the police) they were let go. No charges were filed, no kids were grounded. The worst that happened was when the card was returned, one of the kids ended up getting the profits from the card’s sale and his parents made him donate the money. The money was used to build a museum which was then dedicated to the kids that were trying to steal the card. There were no consequences for their actions. No matter what Griffin’s motive was with stealing the card (he was going to have to move because his family ran out of money) his actions were no justified.

Overall it is not a book that I would recommend or let any of my other kids read. I know my daughter did not like it at all. I also know that if my eleven year old kid was caught breaking into someone’s house there WOULD be consequences. Korman’s book was an attempt at adventure but I feel he fell way short. You can have adventure without breaking the law. But I was so relieved when my daughter started discussing what she didn’t like about the book. It led to a conversation about right and wrong and how there are consequences for one’s actions. I am so grateful how it led to a conversation about grace and no matter how “bad” someone is or how many mistakes they make there is grace when you look to what God wants in your life. So we took something that was questionable and made it into something good. Just thanking God that we were able to take our chaos and use it for good.

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One Response to Swindle

  1. Julie says:

    Thanks – was looking for book review on Korman’s title Ungifted – this gives me some insight to his writing philosophy. Appreciate your effort!

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