Mattie Larimore used to be the good son-compared to his brother, Carter, at least. But that was before Mattie stole a train, got caught, and was sent to Munchem Academy, the world’s greatest reform school. Or is it? Because the kids at Munchem don’t seem very, well . . . reformed. Mostly, they seem terrifying, and the whole place is just a little off.
Mattie has to get out. Fast.
But it may not be fast enough. Headmaster Rooney is tired of dealing with problem students. His solution, however, may prove to be too radical. When Carter is suddenly next in line for Rooney’s master plan, Mattie and the renegade siblings, Eliot and Caroline, must band together to save him and the rest of Munchem’s students before all is lost.
Suddenly, Mattie-the good son-must find his inner hero and fight back. And that’s how the world’s greatest thief got his start.
School Library Journal | 09/01/2016
Gr 4–6—Mattie Larimore was always known as the good son compared to his brother, Carter. That is, until the day Mattie impulsively stole a train. Unfortunately for Mattie, he gets caught and sent to Munchem Academy, the reform school for juvenile delinquents that Carter attends. It is where Mattie’s life of crime truly begins and where he learns the thrill of breaking the rules. At Munchem, Mattie befriends two siblings, Elliot and Caroline, both future criminal masterminds. Together, they find out what is really going on behind closed doors at the academy. The kids know Headmaster Rooney is up to no good when the worst kids in school start disappearing after committing various offenses, including Carter. When the students return, they are completely changed and act like model citizens, ready to return home to their families. The kids soon discover the shocking truth behind Rooney’s nefarious plan. Though a bit long-winded in spots, this is overall an enjoyable read. Mattie is a relatable and likable protagonist, and readers will chuckle at his and his friends’ antics. VERDICT Fans of Lemony Snicket will appreciate this humorous mystery.—Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY