Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers
Sometimes everyone needs a little help to do the right thing.
When a fifth-grade student is being bullied, who is there to help him? Riley Mack and his friends, that’s who. For fifth-grader, Jamal Wilson, he is grateful to become one of the troublemakers..
Riley Mack is almost a typical seventh-grade student. Almost. His father taught him that bullies are
basically cowards. With the help of a few friends, Jake Lowenstein who is a technology genius, Briana
Bloomfield, who is an acting talent unlike any others, and Mongo, who has the size and bulk of a football
player, this group uses their talents to help people. With the addition of Jamal who has lock-picking
abilities, they are called the Gnat Pack.
Unfortunately, the bully is Gavin Brown whose father is the local town sheriff. It was Sheriff Brown who
labeled Riley, a troublemaker when years ago, Riley was caught shoplifting. Riley learned his lesson
about crime quickly, the sheriff though runs his town according his version of justice, especially if it is
benefits him, even if it is against the law.
The real bullying problems show ingenuity with the solutions and the importance of having friends.
Riley has a father in the military serving in Afghanistan while his mother is working at a local bank. The
importance of communication with his parents and having defined limits, added to this realistic aspect
of the story.
Another issue is the business of puppy mills. Most children are magnetically attracted to
dogs and have little background about the problem of puppy mills. Grabenstein graphically explained
this issue clearly.
Chris Grabenstein is a successful author who has written an adult series of book featuring John Ceepak,
Tilt-A-Whirl, Mad House, Whack a Mole, Hell Hole, Mind Scrambler, Rolling Thunder, and
soon-to-be released, Fun House. His children’s books are geared for ages 10-14. His haunting
children’s trilogy beginning with The Crossroads, The Hanging Hill, and The Black Heart Crypt is
spellbinding. The Explorers’ Gate is a delightful romp through Central Park.
Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers is fun. The story is fast-paced and most importantly,
gives hope for those who are being bullied. At times, some events were a little contrived, but this is
fiction. The thematic strength is to solve a problem by discussing it with others and working together.
I have read all of Chris Grabenstein’s novels and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Each story is
entertaining, well-written, and having the theme of doing the right thing. Even as an adult,
Grabenstein’s children’s stories are intriguing, fast-paced, and enthralling. Riley Mack is an entertaining
romp for everyone.