Fourth Stall Part II. by Chris Rylander. February 7th 2012. Walden Pond Press. 240 pages. ISBN: 9780061996306
The only criticism I included in my review of the first Fourth Stall book was that I wondered why we didn’t get to see Mac, the main character, in his life as a student - attending classes, dealing with teachers, and fitting his business life in around his life as a real kid. To my great surprise and delight, The Fourth Stall Part II focuses on exactly those things. At the start of Part II, Mac is approached by a seventh grade girl who claims a teacher named Mr Kjelson keeps giving her detention for no good reason. She asks Mac and his assistants to investigate the teacher and get him to leave her alone. In the meantime, the school is having its own issues. Animal feces are turning up in kids’ lockers, the lunchroom is serving unhealthy fried food, and a new vice principal is forcing the entire school to take a standardized test called the SMART. Naturally, everyone turns to Mac for help, which is great for business at first, until the vice principal catches on to what’s happening in the fourth stall. Can Mac and his buddies save the school from ruin and also keep their business from going under?
Like the first book, The Fourth Stall Part II is filled with a lot of great boy-friendly humor. Vince’s quotes from his grandmother are as ridiculous as ever, and Mac has a lot of great lines about middle school culture that will resonate well with kids currently living in that culture. The Cubs references are still interesting, and will thrill baseball fans, and the supporting characters, such as the creepy bully named Kitten, and Mr. Kjelson, the possibly evil but seemingly friendly teacher / baseball coach add a lot to the story, fleshing it out beyond just a boy solving problems from a bathroom stall. Kids who know the stress of standardized testing will eagerly anticipate finding out how Mac will try to take on the SMART, and the concept of teachers trying to take down a school from the inside will appeal to middle school conspiracy theorists.
I really enjoyed this second book, even more than the first, and I’m pleased to see that the ending of Part II hints pretty strongly at yet another sequel. The setting of this book is an appealing world to visit, and Mac, even at his worst, is the kind of character for whom you just want to see things work out, even when he doesn’t always do the right thing. Kudos to Chris Rylander for continuing to work with his unique tween mafia concept - this series is definitely one-of-a-kind!
I received an ARC of The Fourth Stall Part II from Walden Pond Press.