New in Paperback!
Gabe Johnson Takes Over
By Geoff Herbach
(Previously Titled Fat Boy Vs. the Cheerleaders)
A YALSA 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection
Sourcebooks Fire ● April 7, 2015
Praise for Gabe Johnson Takes Over
“Told in the first-person voice that Geoff Herbach does so well, Gabe Johnson’s account of his development of the ‘leadership bone’ is grand, touching, and hilarious.” —Star Tribune
“[A] funny, honest, and an utterly likable narrator; his character growth and the decisions he makes are believable and his refusal to be a victim is refreshing. Give to anyone who has felt like an outsider or just wants a fun, fast-paced book with depth.” —School Library Journal
“The funny, profane text embraces the idea that nobody is perfect…Gabe’s character growth will satisfy any appetite…a funny popcorn read.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Herbach’s funny/insightful new novel…there’s poignancy in this story…Gabe stands up for the dignity of all the kids who feel like outsiders.” —Pioneer Press, Pick of the Week
“Herbach deftly walks the tightrope between stereotypes and real people painted in broad strokes, and manages to work in a few surprises…[he]delivers another funny, poignant novel about an unlikely hero determined to save his high school’s marching band.” —Shelf Awareness
From “one of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while” (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky characters.
Gabe Johnson is having a rough week. In spite of the popular kids and some teachers calling him names because of his weight, and even his own friends calling him “Chunk,” Gabe is normally the funny kid at school. But he’s on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction. So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been canceled due to lack of funding, he’s furious. What makes him even madder? The school’s vending machine money, which had previously been collected by the band, is now sponsoring the new cheer squad.
The war is ON. And Gabe is the high school underdogs’ champion. No one will be safe from the Geeker’s odd brand of wrath—not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends.
GABE JOHNSON TAKES OVER is the story of Gabe’s fight against injustice, but also his fight to reclaim himself. For years he has played along while the popular kids bully him, but no more. With the help of friends and unexpected allies, Gable learns about power, politics, and himself. A funny, touching, and insightful story, GABE JOHNSON TAKES OVER will appeal to any kids who feel like they just don’t fit in.
Geoff Herbach’s books have been listed in the year’s best by YALSA, the American Booksellers Association, and many state library associations. They’ve won the Cybil and the Minnesota Book Award. Geoff grew up a very nerdy jock in southern Wisconsin and now teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Gabe Johnson Takes Over Excerpt:
That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop. It all started with that stupid—
Yeah, I hate that machine. For so many reasons.
First things first! That machine made me a junky! A pop junky! I’m not the only one in school either.
Back in May, me, Justin Cornell, and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. It was Camille’s idea because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year. (Her dad grew like two tomatoes and one giant zucchini. Mr. Gardener’s not the greatest farmer in the world.) Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.
Big, bad study, sir.
Mr. Luken, our health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and others (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.
Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.
This pop project was eye opening, sir.
After school that day, me, Camille, and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.
“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.
“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.
“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.
“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.
“Oh, Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.
Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.
Justin shook his head, sucked his latte, and was all like, “Whoa.”
Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea, and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”
I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories by the way.
Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for seconds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you but not make you fat on the calories.
What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?
I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.
“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”
“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.
“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.
“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.
Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell--ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).
I knew it too, knew pop was part of my issue. But see, I also thought it was part of my success. I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much, so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.