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Annotation: Hoping to win a cash prize in a pizza eating contest after racking up a tab on his mother's credit card, David must juggle his competitive eating training with the responsibility of looking after his autistic younger brother.
Catalog Number: #167441
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 278 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-536-20432-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2172-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-536-20432-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2172-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017953738
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
David accidentally bids $2,000 in an online auction with his mother's credit card; he plans to pay her back with winnings from competitive eating contests. David takes pride in this particular talent, and in caring for his autistic younger brother, Mal. The first-person narrative explores the brothers' relationship in a nuanced way (except for occasionally ableist language) as David becomes more attuned to Mal's perspective.
Kirkus Reviews
Winning a competitive eating contest is David's only hope of avoiding being grounded for life after he does something stupid with his mother's credit card. Already an avid eater and a fan of the "sport," David Miller, 14, figures that he's really going to have to up his game after accidently spending $2,000 in an online auction for what is billed as the very hot-dog half that cost pro eater Jooky Garafalo last year's Nathan's Famous contest. Fortunately, local pizzeria Pigorino's is sponsoring a competition at the Iowa State Fair with a $5,000 first prize. Unfortunately, David will have to beat out not only a roster of gifted amateurs to make and win the finals, but also a pair of professionals—notably the renowned but unscrupulous El Gurgitator. As much gourmet as gourmand, David not only vividly chronicles awe-inspiring gustatory feats as he gears up and passes through qualifiers, but describes food with unseemly intensity: "Disks of pepperoni shimmer and glisten on a sea of molten mozzarella." Even better, though, is the easy, natural way he interacts with Mal, a younger brother whose neurological disability (the term "autistic" is banned from family discourse) transforms but does not conceal a rich internal life. Other subplots, such as a developing relationship between David's longtime friends Hayden (who is evidently white) and Korean-American Cyn, further enrich a tale in which his own tests and his loving, white family's determined quest to discover what they dub "Mal's Rules" both result in thrilling, hard-won triumphs. Winning views of a family pulling together, of young people stumbling into adolescence, and of an entertaining if controversial pursuit, "reverse-eating events" and all. (Fiction. 12-14)
Publishers Weekly
Hautman (Eden West) is both funny and uplifting in this good-natured story of incoming high school freshman David Miller, whose chief talent is the ability to eat an entire pizza in under five minutes. When an accidental charge to his mother-s credit card puts him $2,000 in the hole, David attempts to earn the money back by winning the Super Pigorino Bowl, a pizza-eating contest. To compete with the nation-s fastest eaters, he must train through the summer and somehow find time to babysit his younger brother, Mal, who would probably be labeled autistic if the boys- mother allowed labels. David-s sardonic musings-about everything from life in Vacaville, Iowa, to the growing weirdness between his friends Cyn and HeyMan-are authentic, humorous, and endearing. It-s impossible not to root for David as he devours pizzas, burgers, and even cabbage in substantial quantities, and even less possible not to dig his relationship with potato-chip-loving, twig-collecting Mal. Hautman offers lots of great takeaways about loyalty, friendship, and perseverance, wrapped in a wholly enjoyable story about a kid who, in the end, just loves to eat pizza. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 5-8David meant to bid $20, not $2,000, on the half-eaten hot dog of his favorite competitive eater. But it happened, and he won, and he sort of used his mom's credit card to place the bid. To make up the money, David realizes it's time to turn his interest into cash and compete in a local pizza eating contest. He can eat an entire pizza in under five minutes, but he'll have to train to do better than that and win the competition. When he's not stretching his stomach by eating disgusting amounts of raw cabbage, David hangs out with his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan. He also watches his little brother, who has autism, Mal, and rolls his eyes at his overachieving older sister and her annoying new boyfriend. David feels caught in the middle when it comes to his family and whatever is happening between Cyn and HeyMan. This novel is laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely sweet. Though the premise of scarfing down pizzas seems silly, this is ultimately a meaningful book with insight into having a sibling with special needs and the general ups and downs that come with being a teenager. VERDICT A fantastically funny, relatable book that will be an easy sell and a rewarding read for most middle graders.Emily Moore, Camden County Library System, NJ
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Jack-of-all-genres Hautman turns to the mouthwatering, madcap world of competitive eating. Narrator David admires the greats: Joey Chestnut, who can down 70 dogs in 10 minutes; Takeru Kobayashi, a Guinness Record-holding lightweight; and his personal favorite, Jooky Garofalo o legendarily lost a Nathan's Famous championship by one single half dog. David can't believe when Jooky's unfinished dog appears on auction site And he's floored when his bid for the "piece of history" wins. Unfortunately, one mistyped decimal point means BuyBuy just charged $2,000 t $20 his mother's credit card. David may be able to inhale a single pizza in under five minutes, but to win the Super Pigorino Bowl's $5,000 grand prize d repay his mom 'll have to train like never before. More than a story of stomach-shattering determination, this is also an unflinching exploration of David's bond with little brother Mal, who, though their mother forbids the label, has been diagnosed with autism. With crystalline prose, delectable detail, rip-roaring humor, and larger-than-life characters, Hautman gracefully examines what it means to be a friend, a family member, and, through it all, a kid trying to do the right thing. Readers will race to devour it, but like Papa Pigorino's colossal BDT pizzas, this infectious tale is a thing to be savored.
Word Count: 50,283
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 191877 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.8 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q72242
Lexile: 660L

Competitive eating vies with family expectations in a funny, heartfelt novel for middle-grade readers by National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.

David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better: he’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, the world’s greatest pizza-eating contest, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent $2,000 on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday. As if training to be a competitive eater weren’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him Mal). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan. Master talent Pete Hautman has cooked up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.

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