Ethan Winfield has never been an academic or athletic star like his older brother, Peter. But does that make him a failure? Of course not. Still, Ethan and his best friend, Julius Zimmerman, decide that they qualify to found an exclusive club: Losers, Inc.
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Annika Riz loves math more than anything, so when she hears about a sudoku contest at the local public library, she is determined to win it—maybe then her friends Kelsey Green and Izzy Barr will see that math is just as cool as reading and running. When the school carnival, the biggest fundraiser of the year, comes around, Annika realizes her…
No sooner have they done this, however, than both boys fall in love with the new student teacher. Ethan knows right away that to impress Ms. Gunderson he has to excel. Instead of reading the shortest book for his report, he has to read the longest. Instead of working with Julius on the worst project for the science fair, he has to make the best one – alone.
Unfortunately, it isn't Ms. Gunderson who falls for Ethan, but Lizzie Archer, class nerd. The teasing is unbearable! So without regard for Lizzie's feelings – and over Julius's objections – Ethan helps hatch a plot to prove that he's not Lizzie's boyfriend. The result is that even as he reports on a book that's longer than any Peter read in the sixth grade, and prepares a potentially winning science project, Ethan feels that he doesn't deserve anyone's love – not Ms. Gunderson's, not Lizzie's, not Julius's, not his own.
Claudia Mills, creator of Dinah Seabrooke (Dynamite Dinah, Dinah for President, Dinah in Love, Dinah Forever) and other overachievers, portrays a boy who needs a reason to strive, finds one, then realizes that success isn't enough. Smart, funny, and down to earth, this hero engages and entertains as he struggles mightily to grow up.