Swindle is the story of a group of eleven year olds led by Griffin Bing, the man with the plan. In this book, Griffin finds a rare collectible Babe Ruth card that will be the answer to his family's money problems. However, he is swindled out of the card by a con man named S. Wendell Palamino. Griffin and his friends embark on a plan to steal his card back from Palamino. Perhaps the best book description I've come across is from Amazon's site where they call the book "Ocean's 11. . . with 11-year-olds, in a super stand-alone heist caper." It really is an Ocean's 11 for kids! It has the heist, the humor, and great characters.
Swindle is authored by Gordon Korman. If you don't know Gordon Korman, I promise you are probably familiar with his work as he wrote two of the ten books in the 39 Clues book series. That book series could be another post on its own! If you want to know more about the 39 Clues books, click on this link for all you need to know. Suffice to say, Gordon Korman is an excellent author who really knows how to hook your young friends.
Swindle is a great book for teaching character traits. The characters are all very different and each brings a special skill to the heist. The are also easily relatable for your friends. They will be sure to see themselves in one or another of the characters. It also has a lot of material for problem/solution lessons. In a deeper lesson, there is a great question over what is legally right vs. what is morally right, and character motivation.
According to Scholastic Book Wizard, Swindle has a grade level equivalent is 4.4, and a Lexile level of 710L. Another site also notes it to be a DRA level 40 and a Guided Reading level S.
After reading Swindle, we read the next book in the series Zoobreak. In this book, we find the same group of friends planning another heist. This time, they are breaking a monkey out of a run-down floating zoo. However, they end up breaking out ALL the animals to save them from the money hungry zoo owner. The problem is, what do you do with all these animals once you've broken them out of the zoo? The next two books in the series are Framed and Showoff, both involving our same group of eleven-year-olds.
I would recommend Swindle as a great book for all your friends, but I think it is especially a good "go to" if you have some boys who aren't that interested in reading. I've listed some links below for Swindle just in case you decide to use it.. A couple are linked in the post, but here they are in all.
- Official site for Gordon Korman - There is a lot to explore on this site. You can also find more about the many other books he has written.
- Chapter 1 of Swindle - Scholastic provides this link which gives you a download of chapter 1 of Swindle.
- Scholastic's Swindle - This Scholastic page has a preview of the book, games, more about this author and some general information.
- Teachers Pay Teachers - This is the search results for Swindle on Teachers Pay Teachers. Our colleagues have been very busy creating a lot of material for this book!
- Chapter Guide - I found this PDF by Janelle McInerney that is a gem. It gives you some prereading activities and for each chapter it lists vocabulary, questions, and a journal topic. It ends with interdisciplinary activities, a list of Gordon Korman's other books, and some additional web sites. A gem!
- Right There! - Schoolwires offers this three page PDF of story questions. I called it "Right There!" because they seem to be all "right there" questions where the answer can be found in the text. They are not inferential or higher-level thinking questions per say. However, they would be great for a quick review game in class.
So, there you have it. A good book and some resources to go along with it. If nothing else, this book would be a fun read aloud for your friends. I hope you like it as much as I did.