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Pete Hautman. Candlewick, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9070-0

Hautman (Eden West) is both funny and uplifting in this good-natured story of incoming high school freshman David Miller, whose chief talent is the ability to eat an entire pizza in under five minutes. When an accidental charge to his mother’s credit card puts him $2,000 in the hole, David attempts to earn the money back by winning the Super Pigorino Bowl, a pizza-eating contest. To compete with the nation’s fastest eaters, he must train through the summer and somehow find time to babysit his younger brother, Mal, who would probably be labeled autistic if the boys’ mother allowed labels. David’s sardonic musings—about everything from life in Vacaville, Iowa, to the growing weirdness between his friends Cyn and HeyMan—are authentic, humorous, and endearing. It’s impossible not to root for David as he devours pizzas, burgers, and even cabbage in substantial quantities, and even less possible not to dig his relationship with potato-chip-loving, twig-collecting Mal. Hautman offers lots of great takeaways about loyalty, friendship, and perseverance, wrapped in a wholly enjoyable story about a kid who, in the end, just loves to eat pizza. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)