cover image Losers, Inc.

Losers, Inc.

Claudia Mills. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34661-4

Ethan Winfield is so sure the world is stacked against him that he keeps a daily report called ""Life Isn't Fair: A Proof."" The untalented younger brother of perfect Peter, he is unpopular and a bad student, and so, with his woebegone best friend, Julius, he forms the club Losers, Inc. But sixth grade has some surprises planned for Ethan that will knock that big chip off his shoulder. Mills (Dinah Forever) possesses sensitive insights into the familiar middle-school anxiety of fitting in, and she couches them in a wittily empathetic narrative. As the story unfolds, she effectively describes the mix of wrenching envy and pride with which Ethan regards Peter, a sports star and straight-A student. She also captures the difficulty Ethan's parents have as they bend over backwards to be ""fair"" to both sons. Though there's no triumphant ending for Ethan, he is transformed by his own actions. Funny, lively and hopeful, this is certain to strike a chord with the target audience. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)