From the acclaimed author of The Lemonade War comes a new book starring two smart girls determined to liven up their town—one epic prank at a time.


Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: Nothing But Trouble (Book 1)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (November 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062369881
ISBN-13: 978-0062369888

Odawahaka has always been too small for Maggie’s big scientific ideas. Between her stuck-in-a-rut mom, her grumpy grandpop, and the lifetime supply of sludgy soda in the fridge, it’s hard for Maggie to imagine a change. 

But when Lena moves in with her creative spirit and outrageous perspective, middle school takes off with a bang. Someone starts pulling the kind of pranks that send their rule-loving new principal into an uproar—complete with purple puffs of smoke, parachuting mice, and a scavenger hunt that leads to secret passageways. Suddenly the same-old football games, election for class president, and embarrassing stories feel almost exciting. And for the first time in her life, Maggie begins to wonder if there might be more to Odawahaka than she ever saw coming!

Humorous, smart, and full of small-town heart, Nothing But Trouble will have mischief-loving readers caught up in the cleverness and determination of two girls who can’t be held down.


Starred Review — Maggie’s friendship with Allie and Emily is not the only thing coming to an end. This is the last year Odawahoka Middle School will be in existence, and this year’s sixth grade is the final class. Classrooms have been shuttered, programs have been suspended, and labs have been locked up tight. As Maggie’s old friends are finding different interests, new girl Lena appears. Lena is a self-possessed artist, into photography and the Dada movement. She is very un-Odawahoka, and she has decided that she is going to be Maggie’s best friend. The problem is that Maggie is harboring some secrets and she needs to decide how much she is going to let Lena know; she’s often the one left taking care of her cranky grandfather, her mom disappears into her room at night with a bottle in hand, Maggie is maintaining a secret website selling vintage autoparts, and there is her late father’s Hacker Bible. Before he died, her father was a brilliant engineer who pulled off epic hacks with aplomb, and Maggie is determined to follow in his footsteps and make this last year at Odawahoka Middle School memorable for her classmates. As controlled chaos seems to reign beneath the crumbling roof of their middle school, both girls discover more about friendship, family, school spirit, and themselves than they imagined. VERDICT: This pitch-perfect start to a new series captures the power dynamics between adults and children and allows for the realization that everyone has a story worth hearing.–Stacy Dillon, School Library Journal

Sixth-grader Maggie feels out of place in Odawahaka, a small Pennsylvania town with a decrepit, slated-for-closure middle school. She’s a nerd who focuses her smarts on “hacking,” an elaborate form of pranking that her late father, whom she never met, learned in school at MIT. The Hacker’s Bible—her dad’s collection of notebooks containing all his hacking expertise—is a secret between Maggie and her dad (whose encouraging voice she hears in her head) until Lena, equally nerdy and a little bit nosy, moves to town, and a conflicted Maggie shares this once-private part of her life. “The Mouse,” a persona created by Maggie and now shared by Lena, claims responsibility for their amusing hacks and eventually runs for class president, with overwhelming student support (and possibly that of Mrs. Dornbusch, a homeroom teacher who claims not to care). Maggie’s family life, which includes a mother who struggles with alcoholism and a grandfather whose health is declining, adds depth to the shenanigans, not least because of Maggie’s slowness to realize she’s not the only intelligent one in her house. This series starter, full of unapologetic girl power and complete with appended activities based on Maggie’s interest in physics and Lena’s in Dadaism, might especially appeal to lonely studious-and-creative types, with its reassurance that they’re not as alone as they may think. —Shoshana Flax, The Horn Book

Sixth-grader and budding engineer Maggie Gallagher occupies her fertile mind and connects to the father who survives only in her head by planning and executing elaborate pranks at school. Maggie's father pulled notorious pranks while in college at MIT. He died before she was born, leaving only a box of notebooks describing his hacks in meticulous detail. She re-creates them at Odawahaka Middle School using money earned from secretly selling her grandfather's vintage car parts on the internet. Maggie dreams of nothing more than leaving her dysfunctional family and getting out of her dying small town until dadaist new student Lena Polachev chooses her as a friend. Together they become an unstoppable force against the school's new dictatorial principal. The story is full of stylish and satisfying pranks, some chronicled step by step and others simply mentioned. Toy cars spill out of lockers, ping-pong balls rain down on the principal, school banners are reworded. Where Wildcats ruled, the Mouse is in the house, and what was simply funny becomes a revolution bringing much-needed change to a depressed, evidently all-white community. A vividly realized present-day setting, distinctive, believable characters, subversive humor, and satisfying ending give this title solid kid appeal. With plenty of threads to hang sequels from, this series opener will make readers roar for more. (activities) (Fiction. 10-13) — Kirkus

Awards and Lists

  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • School Library Journal, starred review