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The Great Greene Heist

(The Great Greene Heist #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,180 ratings  ·  441 reviews
Saving the school -- one con at a time.

Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz.... But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.

Then Keith Sinclair -- loser of the Blitz -- announces he's running for school president,
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Brandon Harbeke
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,180 ratings  ·  441 reviews

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What is the ultimate child fantasy? I’m not talking bubble gum sheets and wizards that tell you you’re “the chosen one”. Let’s think a little more realistically here. When a kid looks at the world, what is almost attainable but just out of their grasp for the moment? Autonomy, my friends. Independence. The ability to make your own rules and to have people fall in line. Often this dream takes the form of numerous orphan novels (it’s a lot easier to be independent if you don’t have any pesky paren ...more
Ms. Yingling
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Varian Johnson is a local Austin author, so I saw him speak several times back when I lived there. He's been talking the talk and walking the walk about diversity in children's books since before it was trendy. I'm happy to see him make the jump to middle grade and reach a new group of readers.

THE GREAT GREENE HEIST throws the reader right into the deep end with a varied cast of characters and a flurry of references to past escapades. This book is clearly positioned to be the start of a series,
May 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
The central conceit of The Great Greene Heist is a middle school principal taking bribes to rig a student council president election. (That's not a spoiler, by the way. That's something presented immediately.)

The rest of the book continues in that vein, but it lacks the verve, the levity, the deft touch to sell that kind of overblown con story. Instead, it tries to be plausible, and as a result it never succeeds at convincing on any level.

From a plot level: pulling off this sort of con and havin
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic, ya
It took me WAAAAYYYY too long to get past the first page of this book!

No, seriously, this has been on my potential-middle-school-booktalk list ever since it came out, but I cracked it more than once and couldn't get past the first paragraph. There's a run-on sentence in there that felt awkward and like I'd be irritated by the writing all the way through.

Fortunately, I finally got past it, and discovered that the stylized writing here was something I could get used to. Don't get me wrong - it's n
Isa Cantos (Crónicas de una Merodeadora)
¡Adoré este libro! Creo que necesitaba una buena historia, sencilla, fresca y un poco infantil, pero no por eso menos original. Leer The Great Greene Heist es como combinar High School Musical -sin las canciones- y Ocean's Eleven. Por más loco que suene esa combinación, créanme, el libro es muuuuy bueno.

Nada se queda corto. Los personajes, que son chicos de 13 años, están a la altura de la historia que propone el autor. Todos son tremendamente inteligentes y audaces, sobre todo Jackson, que es e
Watch Books
May 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this book. Not that its anything wrong with it, but with the majority of black literature for children usually being about civil rights, or slavery, or serious life topics, I thought it would be cool that there was a book with a AA character just doing "normal" things. Sometimes, the serious topics can be a little heavy, and I was excited that this book could be a cool, fun, lighthearted, and the main character just so happens to be AA.

The book was good and the conc
Dawn Teresa
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog, ReadLove .

Jackson Greene has swagger. Of mythic proportion. From the first glimpse of Varian Johnson’s protagonist in the halls of Maplewood Middle School, readers’ eyes will be peeled in anticipation. Though he’s “reformed”, you can sense Jackson’s new leaf hasn’t been turned over permanently. He’s on a slippery slope as far as scheming goes, and given the right motivation, he’ll be back in the game.

When his buddy Charlie de la Cruz comes to ask Jackson’s help
There's this feeling you get in a good caper novel, like you're there with the crew.
Varian Johnson is a genius with this book. Everything is so well put together, and it all fits together at the end like all the good heist volumes. It's like the book version of The Sting and Ocean's Eleven put together.
And oh yeah, it's all set in middle school. Somehow Johnson pulls it off.
Jackson Greene is known as a con artist at Maplewood Middle School. The Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, The Blitz at the
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, contemporary, kidlit
A fun caper in the vein of THE WESTING GAME or OCEAN'S 11.

OCEANS is actually brought up several times, and Team Greene (aka Gang Greene) even name all the sections of their plan a la Danny Ocean and his gang. Hilarious, and so fun!

A lovely diverse cast try to rig the school elections, not for nefarious purposes, but because the PRINCIPAL is rigging it himself, in order to appease a wealthy parent who has been bribing him! What's a (kind of) reformed young con artist to do? The honest (and best
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: realistic, childrens
I love cons and heist books and films. While some of what was going on, particularly in the technical details, seemed like it was probably a bit beyond middle school students, the motivations and actual carrying out of the plan seemed more or less realistic. I'm not entirely sure that an eighth grader would have the psychological savvy to anticipate everyone's reactions as well as Jackson does, but I'm willing to allow it. I loved that the president of the tech club spoke Klingon and was a cheer ...more
Sarah Hannah
Ultimately, I am more pleased with the existence of this book (heist for kids! diversity! black guy in charge!) than with its execution, though some of it turns out to be my own preference - turns out I like my heists on screen, not on paper. Also, it got better when I learned that it's a read-in-one-sitting type of book, not pick up, put down. But also, there was something about it that just kept me from being super into it. Again, really pleased with the cast of characters - they were well fle ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulously fun caper you won't want to miss.

This has the smart and sassy feel of movies like Oceans 11, The Italian Job, or the TV show Leverage, only in a novel for the middle grade/middle school set.

To pull off a great heist, you need a good crew - which often involves a lot of characters. This means a lot of set up at the start to establish characters and their relationships (as well as their talents). Varian Johnson does this well, but for those not used to this type of extensive s
Tony Keefer
I loved nearly everything about this book. The diversity in characters was very appealing, the caper style plot was fantastic. Hoping their might be at least one more adventure with Gang Greene.
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Alice, Librariansteph, Marti, Elissa, Nadine, Jeannie
Recommended to Martha by: NetGalley
Jackson Greene has a reputation for getting into trouble, even though he's a very bright middle school student. In fact he is so bright he scams clever pranks that leave him unscathed, except in the eyes of Gaby de la Cruz, his best friend's sister whom he likes a lot. Due to viewing him kissing another girl, Gaby has crossed Jackson off her list of trusted friends. She is now running for student council president, and even though Jackson has agreed to no more pranks(he also has a questionable r ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended by the CCBC, I found this book fast paced, clever, and suspenseful. Jackson Greene comes from a line of heisters (is that a word?!) and he decides to pull a heist for the benefit of his friend Gaby who he really likes. Gaby is running for class president in the middle school but her competition, bad guy Keith, seems to have it already all wrapped with the help of unsavory Dr. Kelsey who is the principal. Jackson gathers a group of talent around him to assure Gaby's win. Just when you ...more
Jackson Greene is a con artist who has given up his pranking ways because of how his last one not only fell flat, but made him lose Gaby, the girl he was interested in. When he learns Keith Sinclair is running for president of their middle school against Gaby, he knows he must help her, even if that means returning to his old ways.

Jackson comes off like a young hero from Ocean's Eleven, and he does try to do the right thing. The fact that he's African American (and it shows on the cover) grabbe
Barb Middleton
Whether I want to admit it or not, there is a certain amount of wish fulfillment going on when I watch movies or read fantasy, spy, or science fiction books. I'll never be a butt-kicking warrior but that doesn't mean it isn't fun pretending I am for a couple of hours. This book will satisfy most middle schooler's alter ego of pretending to buck authority and outsmart the powers-that-be. It's fun. It's heady. Plop in some humor and action and ya gotta whole lotta fun. Turn over a few stereotypes ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing!!!! Action and kids outsmarting adults like a pro.
Caleb S
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book multiple times, and it's always been so awesome!
Phillip Han
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. The details are amazing and the suspense was terrific. Read it.
Matt Godfrey
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! The short chapters made the book move so fast!
I started reading THE GREAT GREENE HEIST with a lot of expectation because this book has gotten a lot of buzz. In light of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and (hopefully ongoing) discussion, this middle school caper story with a diverse cast of characters is right on time. But the pace was a little dizzying and the debonair main character was way too slick for me. I put it down but felt the urge to finish it once I got a message from the library saying the book was due and could not be renewed.

Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where I should start raving about this book.
I loved everything about it. Yep. Pretty much.

So this is the story of a retired middle school con artist who grew a conscience and decided to come to the aid of an ex-friend Gaby (long story) in her race for President at Maplewood Middle School. Instead of helping her cheat or cheating for her, he was going to help her win fair and square despite all attempts from her opponent (Keith Sinclair) to win at all costs, including fraud and bribe
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 12 and up

Genre: Realistic Fiction

This book was an ARC courtesy of NetGalley.

The Great Greene Heist


He is the most famous of them all...

He is... Jackson Greene!

Jackson is a crook. Well, not really a crook. More like a very talented individual who has no idea what to use his talent for. Jackson is good at thievery and he is known school wide for his tricks.

Jackson had gotten into trouble a lot and one time it
Melissa Mcavoy
Jackson Greene has the skills to con or lift whatever he wants at Maplewood Middle School, but after getting caught four months ago he has turned over a new leaf and is playing by the rules…until he learns Keith Sinclair plans on stealing the student body president election from Jackson’s ex-best-friend and current crush, Gaby, in order to vindictively defund all the clubs Jackson and his friends value. Greene must get back into the game, playing by his own set of iconic rules. Intricately plott ...more
3.5 stars for me. I liked this pretty well, but I think it helps that I am a sucker for heist books. I agree with Gabrielle-the times this book mentioned anything related to the Columbus, Ohio setting seemed forced ("Even though the neighborhood of Short North was mostly galleries..." and "[he] waited in the Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library System") and like someone just mad libbed for "hip neighborhood" or "library branch".

Also, I kind of wish it had just been a nameless c
Joshua Whiting
This review posted on

This is a fun, quick read with a diverse cast of characters who come together through a series of schemes to save their middle school from the threat of a rigged student election. Jackson Greene is a classic charismatic con artist with a heart of gold, but readers will also find many other characters to relate to in this book, including Gaby the straight-laced studentbody presidential candidate (and Jackson’s ex-best
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

Started hearing all of the hype and was anxiously awaiting the book's release when I found an ARC on my own TBR shelf! Surprise! Forgot I had picked it up at NCTE or BEA. Love a mystery, love a heist. The representation of diverse characters is something we are missing and craving in literature for children and young adults. This book delivers that. When I really think about the action…I sort of have to think fantasy because the thought of all this happening in a middle school is diffic
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I am the worst person to read an early copy of this only because middle grade is not my favorite. Taking that into account, I still enjoyed it and can easily identify the type of reader who would love this book. It's very smartly written, which is a necessity in a heist book. I loved Jackson Greene and the wide array of side characters. It was a lot of fun, if not my exact cup of tea. My actual rating would have been a 3 ("I liked it"), but I bumped it up to a 4 because it deserves a great Goodr ...more
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