cover image High Score

High Score

Destiny Howell. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-74671-6

Months after his last “job” sparked unintended consequences, mastermind DJ, this book’s seventh grader narrator, is lying low at his new school, retired from a life of cons, heists, and schemes. That is, until his best friend and former partner-in-crime Conor transfers to be with him, and promptly runs afoul of the lottery kingpin who controls the school’s underground economy of Starcade-brand arcade tickets. Now, DJ has two weeks to acquire 100,000 tickets, or both he and Conor will be “rocket boosted”—socially disappeared. To achieve the impossible, DJ goes straight to the source, planning to lift the tickets from the Starcade itself by any means necessary. But even after he recruits actor Audrey Valentine and intimidating but soft-spoken Monty LaCroix to round out his new crew, it’ll take every trick in the book to pull off a caper of this caliber. Expertly filtering a bevy of familiar heist elements through a middle school lens while maintaining the genre’s spirit and lingo, debut author Howell writes a fast-paced adventure packed with cunning twists. DJ is Black; other protagonists read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (June)