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About the Book


Mickey Vernon is desperate to win the pool tournament at his family’s pool hall… but can he beat the bully and show he’s got what his champion pool playing father had inside?

There’s only one thing in the world Mickey Vernon really wants, and it’s hanging in his family’s pool hall. It’s the awesome shirt that the winner of the ten-to-thirteen-year-olds’ nine-ball championship will be wearing. But to win, Mickey has to beat Buck Pender who is probably part gorilla.  Not even his best friend, Arlen, a math whiz with a killer pet pig, can help Mickey.

But when Joseph Alvarez, an old friend of Mickey’s father and an absolute pool ace, offers to coach him. Mickey figures he has a chance. If only he can convince his mother to believe that Joseph will actually do what he’s promised, unlike before…

  • Nominated for 11 state awards

"Good characters, humor, and an engaging plot...a solid piece of middle-grade fiction. "
-- Booklist

"As she has done in previous books, Bauer showcases a young person's growth through deep commitment to a hobby; the novel's breezy first person narration and depiction of a close-knit community are equally appealing."
-- Horn Book

"Mickey's authentic voice draws readers right into the story...Characters both major and minor come to life."
-- Kirkus Review