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Literature / Swindle

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Swindle is a 2008 book by Gordon Korman. The book centers on sixth grader Griffin Bing, who thinks he has found the solution to his family's money problems when he finds a Babe Ruth baseball card in a condemned house. However, a dealer rips him off, and he gathers a group of his peers to help him reclaim what is rightfully his. The book was made into a film in 2013 and was followed by a number of sequels:


Zoobreak (2009)

Framed (2010)

Showoff (2012)

Hideout (2013)

Jackpot (2014)

Unleashed (2015)

“ Jingle ” (2016)

The Swindle series contains examples of the following tropes:

Because of many spoileriffic moments, beware of spoilers! You have been warned!

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    Tropes Of The Series In General 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: It isn’t specified on which year each story takes place, but given that “Swindle” has October 16 on a Thursday April 15 on a Wednesday, and other clues, this means the series starts off in the year 2014. And since the first book was released in 2008, this makes most of the books technically this trope.
  • Brick Joke: Crops up from time to time at least once a book.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Griffin is usually very good at first panning in full detail and not letting any clues left behind. However, when a certain clue is left behind that the police catch, this could spell disaster upon the main six, and it usually does.
  • Exact Words: What our six heroes deploy to cover up their signs to getting caught, along with Metaphorically True.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Free-Range Children: Granted, this series DOES have limits, but Griffin and his team venture into this trope frequently within their antics around Cedarville.
  • The Ghost: The girls of the team (Savannah, Pitch, and Melissa) are said to have brothers and sisters mentioned plenty of times, yet they have never appeared at all.
  • Insistent Terminology: plenty of characters use these, but the one who uses this the most by far is Savannah. Animals in her house are not pets, they are family members. Also, an animal shouldn’t be referred to as “it”, but as “him” of “her”.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The small town that the main group live in, Cedarville, is located in Nassau County in New York. With the correct calculations, it appears that “Cedarville” is based on Cedarhurst, which is also a small town in Nassau County in real life.
  • One-Word Title: All of the books in the series has this.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: A frequent staple throughout the series. Most notably when Griffin gives up on a mission, which shocks his friends.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Griffin and his gang get so many of these that it can quite shameful for them.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: This is known to the team this way as “Code Z”; when a plan is reaching the stage of failure and exposure, the best course of action is to flee the scene.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: This series frequently dedicates itself to this formula. It exemplifies that actions have consequences, and what results in our six heroes throughout their adventures is very detailed and realistic.
  • Tempting Fate: Often, when a character prompts up saying that things seem to be looking up for them, that’s when disaster for them strikes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The six children of the story get plenty of these throughout their long run.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The team uses this tactic plenty of times in their plans.

  • Agony of the Feet: During the break-in at the Palomino house, Pitch jumps into the open skylight which causes the ledge that the climbing harness ropes are wrapped around to break. This in turn causes her to fall, and Griffin and Darren rush in to prevent her from hitting the ground. They catch most of her, but not enough to prevent her foot from hitting the floor. This sprains her foot and ankle, and gives her a heavy limp for the rest of the book.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: It turns out that a day before the night of the break-in, Swindle rented a second guard dog, a massive German Shepherd that’s even bigger than Luthor. Savannah finds this out the hard way, and barely escapes from an attack. And when it gets loose, they barely manage to distract as it’s fighting the smaller Luthor.
  • Analogy Backfire: Griffin keeps thinking and explaining to his friends and family that he’s not stealing the baseball card, he’s taking back what’s rightfully his. He compares it to a person repossessing a car, which is perfectly legal. But when Griffin actually does the deed, the authorities don’t exactly agree with his thinking, and believe it rightfully belongs with the Rockdale family.
  • Anger Born of Worry: When the parents of the heist members find out about what their children did, they are mentioned to be very angry with them for doing such a thing, including Ben’s mother who allegedly yelled at him for an hour.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: When Griffin is asking what he thinks of the break-in plan to Ben in the cafeteria, his nurse comes in to say that she thinks it’s time for his allergy nap.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Griffin arrives home after the break-up, he sees flashing police cars parked on the front driveway of the Bing house. He is initially shocked and think that it’s because of the home invasion. But it turns out, that it was because Mr. Bing had called the cops because of the Smart Pick prototype that Griffin had taken from the garage that he used in obtaining the baseball card.
  • Batman Gambit: The plan Darren comes up with to get Mr. Palomino out of the house. They buy a ticket to a popular sports football game, which happens to be take place the night of the break-in, that is “mistakenly” sent to him by a nephew. This would triggers Mr. Palomino’s greed and he swallows the bait, which leaves his house alone for the team to get in there and get the baseball card.
  • Bat Scare: While investigating the abandoned Rockdale house in the beginning, a bat attacks Griffin, going through his curly hair with its’ claws.
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: After the heist, Griffin believes that there is a police officer secretly around the corner watching his every move. And when he actually goes to get the baseball card to the location he mailed it to, they indeed were watching the place and caught him there.
  • Big "NO!": Griffin internally does this as well as a Rapid-Fire "No!" when Pitch calls him to let him know that she was forced to rat him out to the police because of her parents.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The team ends up getting caught, gain intense police suspicion, and Griffin has to give up the card because of inheritance issues. However, because of the publicity of the Smart Pick’s used in the robbery, this solves the financial problems that the Bing family has been going through. In addition, the money used in the card selling helped create the skateboarding concept that Griffin wanted to be approved.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Griffin is entirely right in pointing out that how Swindle cheated him out of the baseball card is incredibly deceitful. But Ben and Savannah (whom were initially opposed to his heist plan) point out that if they pull off the heist, the authorities won’t automatically think that he was taking back what was rightfully his, he’s just stealing it.
  • Brick Joke: Griffin recalled how Darren spread a rumor at school that he was related to the Rockdale’s, the owners of the abandoned house that is about to be demolished. This rumor turns out to be true, as he is the youngest relative of the Rockdale lady that inherited the Babe Ruth baseball card. And when it is sold, all the money goes to him.
  • Call-Forward: Ben goes to the nurse constantly for his “allergy” treatment. This will become a much bigger issue in the next book.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Smart Pick. Griffin races back home and to the Palomino house in order to retrieve the baseball card that was stuck to the top of a tree that Darren was about to get.
  • Cutting the Knot: Discussed. When Mr. Palomino puts the baseball card in a safe, Griffin and Ben point out that thieves invading the place can just steal the safe and walk out. This amuses Palomino, who suggests that the boys try it out themselves. It turns out that the safe is actually bolted to the floor.
  • Delicious Distraction: When the second guard dog charges at Savannah who is trying to soothe him, Luthor gets in the way and battles the huge German Shepherd. Desperate to save Luthor from getting hurt, Savannah looks through the house refrigerator for some steak to distract the guard dogs from killing each other. She gets one out, which the dogs promptly chew on.
  • Destination Defenestration: When Darren ends up stuck in a tree at the Palomino residence, the branch under him starts to break. This branch then breaks away and swings toward the size of the house, hitting a window and breaking through it. Darren is miraculously not seriously injured, but breaking this window activated the house alarm and causes the team to get out of there before the cops arrive.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Griffin goes to Mr. Palomino’s auction house trying to see if he can get a fortune out of the Babe Ruth card. What he didn’t take into account is that “Swindle” would trick him by creating this elaborate lie that it’s practically worthless and give him far less money than it’s actually worth.
  • Double Take: While biking home all alone, Ben passes by the Bing home out of reflex. There he sees a home seller putting out a sign that says, “For Sale”. This causes Ben to veer off course staring at it in shock and getting into an accident. This incident also gives him a reality check of the Bing family situation and why Griffin wants the card back so bad.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: When Griffin sneaks out at night to the demolished Rockdale (the place that he mailed the baseball card to in order to lead the police off his scent) he goes to the mailbox to retrieve the card. But it turns out that the police were monitoring the place on account of what one of the heist members had told them, and they turned on the floodlights that surrounded the place, catching Griffin in the act.
  • Foreshadowing: Ben has been shown to fall asleep easily. This is a tip off that he has narcolepsy, a fact that he tells Griffin before they go on the heist.
  • Freudian Slip: When asked why the baseball card is so cold on TV, Mr. Palomino replies that it’s for all the “cold hard cash” that the card is worth. This is a tip off that he isn’t actually keeping the card hidden in his safe, but in a heat cavity deep in a frozen turkey he bought.
  • Gossip Evolution:
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
  • Insistent Terminology:
  • I Was Just Joking:
  • I Will Only Slow You Down:
  • Just a Kid:
  • Kick Them While They Are Down:
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
  • Loose Lips:
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal:
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping:
  • Pushed at the Monster:
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
  • Red Alert:
  • Rousing Speech:
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
  • The Sixth Ranger:
  • Slumber Party:
  • Sneeze of Doom:
  • Soft Glass:
  • So Long, Suckers!:
  • Something We Forgot:
  • Spy Speak:
  • The Stool Pigeon:
  • Strolling Through the Chaos:
  • Stunned Silence:
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
  • Sympathy for the Devil:
  • There Are No Coincidences:
  • Treasure Chest Cavity:
  • Welcome Back, Traitor:
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:








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