Zoobreak by Gordon Korman is the second book in the Swindle series, immediately following the wildly popular inaugural book Swindle. In Swindle, the main character Griffin Bing and his best friend, Ben Slovak, stumble upon a 1920 Babe Ruth baseball card while sleeping in an abandoned old house that’s about to be knocked down the next morning. Griffin’s family is having financial problems, and he doesn’t know much about baseball cards, but an original 1920 Babe Ruth in mint condition has to be a lot of money. So they take it a collector to see if it’s worth anything and the guy (S. Wendell Palomino, nicknamed Swindle) lies that it’s just a cheap knockoff and buys it for a pittance. It turns out the card is worth $974,000. What the guy did is unethical, it’s sleazy, but there’s no way to prove he lied. Swindle is going to get away with it.
But Griffin is the Man with the Plan, and he and his team of friends come up with a plan to steal the card back. It’s a very exciting and action-packed book, and one I highly recommend.
So what did Gordon do to follow up on that success? He wrote Zoobreak, a book that expands on the theme of kids fighting against unfairness by taking matters into their own hands. In Swindle, there was a million dollar baseball card. In Zoobreak, there’s Savannah’s pet monkey. Savannah’s animal has been stolen, and she is simply not going to stand for that. To make matters right, Griffin Bing will have to pull off his wildest caper yet.
It is helpful to note that these books can be read in any order. While I would advise beginning with the first book, it is possible to pick up the series anywhere.
As mentioned above, Savannah’s monkey Cleopatra is stolen. When her dog Luthor goes looking and comes back with a banana, she is certain the animal was kidnapped. But that’s not evidence she can hand over to the police.
To make matters worse, Griffin’s best friend Ben Slovak has narcolepsy, a disease which makes him susceptible to falling asleep at any time of the day. And his condition is getting worse. His parents are getting ready to send him away to a boarding school where he can get help, which would be an obvious catastrophe. Even though Griffin’s dad tries to convince him this is the best thing for Ben, Griffin knows the only reason Ben is going is because he’s a kid, and his parents want him to go. Unfortunately, solving narcolepsy is not one of the skills of The Man with the Plan.
Later on when Savannah locates her monkey at a flying zoo, she is livid. But she has no proof the monkey is hers. Savannah is sure of it, and her prowess with animals is so well-known that most everyone is willing to accept it as true. Still, to get the DNA testing would take a year and cost a lot of money. With the way this zoo treats their animals, there’s reason to suspect Cleo will not even survive that long. But Savannah is forced to leave her monkey there. There’s nothing she can do.
But where other people see closed doors, The Man with the Plan only sees opportunity. That zoo stole Savannah’s monkey, and just like they took back the million dollar baseball card in Swindle, this time they’re taking back something even more valuable. But every good planner knows that no plan can fit every situation, and there’s definitely no way to anticipate the insane situation these characters find themselves in.
This book is 230 pages with large font, written for kids around the age of 9-14. The writing is very good and the book is fast-paced and exciting as is usual with this series.
This is a great book, with Griffin and his friends being firmly committed to taking down the vicious animal thief by whatever means necessary. The team certainly makes good on Griffin’s stated goal of standing up to unfairness in this one.