How many sliders can you eat in ten minutes without throwing up? This might not be a question you ever hope to answer, but David has a talent for eating contests. He can also tell you anything you want to know about the champions on the national eating contest circuit. He’s such a fan that he decides to place an online bid on a partly-eaten hot dog from the winner of a major contest – and a misplaced digit ends up being a thousand-dollar mistake on his parents’ credit card bill.
The only way out now is for David to earn the money back to repay his parents. And since he’s too young for a regular job and busy supervising the care of his younger brother, Mal, who has autism and doesn’t like disruption in his routines, David decides his best option is to win the money with his only discernible talent. Let the training for the Super Pigorino Bowl pizza eating contest begin!
I am often relieved to discover realistic fiction books for upper middle grade readers with male protagonists, because it sometimes seems like the options too often involve swords or footballs or spaceships or shipwrecks. A good adventure is great, of course, but as Dorothy tells us, sometimes you can find that in your own back yard- or at least in your local pizza joint.
While the plot seems a bit superficial on its surface, the book includes some authentic family conflict that’s really compelling: sibling rivalry, establishing independence from his parents, caring for a younger brother with autism, taking responsibility for a financial mistake. There’s a lot of good growing up going on in the middle of all the “professional” eating.
There are some references to drinking by college fraternity members, peer crushes, and the parental deception that drives the story's main problem. The text is not too complex for an advanced fourth grade reader, but the content may be more suited for middle school students.
"Decimal points are the worst invention in the history of the world. If not for decimal points, we wouldn't have the Colt .45 revolver, Windows 8.1, or BuyBuy.com. A simple little mistyped decimal point is the difference between twenty dollars and two thousand dollars.
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