Cover image for Double or nothing
Double or nothing
Foon, Dennis, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Annick Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
168 pages ; 20 cm
Reading Level:
600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 6.0 51342.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.2 12 Quiz: 32986 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Kip is a typical teenager, trying to catch the Buzz. It is not drugs or alcohol that are going to get him there, but the pure adrenaline rush that hits when you are playing for high stakes: the risks, the thrill - throw in some money and the fun really begins.

Double or Nothing follows Kip's ride as he gets more and more involved in high-stakes gambling. Although he is a good kid, does well in school and works at his uncle's restaurant to save for college, his rush comes from betting. What begins as ten-dollar wagers with his buddy quickly escalates. Kip constantly makes bets with himself - what wine will his next customer order? Will it be a glass or a bottle? He has the attitude, knows the odds and has done his research. The thrill comes only when money is laid down. To increase the thrill just raise the stakes. If smell is the strongest sense, imagine the smell of victory, the smell of money. Who could resist?

When Kip meets the enticing and wonderful Joey, things couldn't be better. She is unlike any girl he has known. They begin hanging out and then Kip meets Joey's father, King Hewitt, Master Illusionist. Nothing could be cooler. A magician plays the margins like no other. Unfortunately, King turns out to be a compulsive gambler, and takes his young charge to places he has never been before: the races to bet on horses and casinos to play the slots. After winning their first big race on a tip, Kip thinks King is a genius. Despite the spectacle of King losing fifty bucks in less than four minutes on the slots, Kip only becomes more hooked. Can he really feel the energy emanating from the machine?

Kip starts skipping school, missing work, diving into his college fund. The buzz is still increasing, but so are his debts. He knows he needs just one more big win to get it all back. Then King hits a losing streak and disappears. Joey's home is crashing down around her and the repo men are turning up. Can Kip keep lying to her and his mom? Can he beat the odds and turn things around before he hits bottom?

Author Notes

Dennis Foon has written over twenty plays for the stage and directed countless others. He has written extensively for episodic television, including "Emily of New Moon;" "Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy;" "Eerie, Indiana;" "Cold Squad;" "Deepwater Black" and" Wind at My Back." As founding artistic director of Vancouver's acclaimed Green Thumb Theatre for 12 years, Dennis produced a body of plays that continue to be produced internationally in several languages and for which he has received the British Theatre Award, two Chalmers awards, the Jesse Richardson Career Achievement Award and the International Arts for Young Audiences Award. Double or Nothing is based on Dennis' play, Chasing the Money .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-12. Though fatherless, high-school senior Kip has been well provided for by his dedicated mother and loyal uncle. Thanks to his mother's hard work and Kip's job in a posh restaurant, procured through his uncle, there's enough money to cover his college expenses. Unfortunately, Kip has a penchant for gambling that takes a devastating turn when his new girlfriend's father, a renowned magician known as King, turns out to be a high-stakes con artist with an eye on Kip's savings. This is grittier and every bit as compelling as Pete Hautman's similarly-themed Stone Cold (1998). Foon uses a wry, first-person perspective to make Kip a compelling character, and gives readers a fast-moving plot with plenty of crisp, authentic dialog. Like one of King's clever disappearing acts, Kip's downfall creeps up on readers with deceptive ease; only after the smoke dissipates will they realize the blatant signs of addiction. --Roger Leslie

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Kip is a bright, loved, capable young man who gets his kicks from betting-on everything from teacher's behaviors to cafeteria card games played with potato chips to the odds of crashing a car without dying. When he meets and becomes completely infatuated with Joey, the stakes are raised-it just so happens that her father is a compulsive gambler ready to teach Kip all the tricks of the trade. From then on, readers follow the teen as he deceives his hardworking mother, school authorities, companions, casino-security personnel, and even the newly found love of his life. With the use of his mother's bankcard he loses thousands of dollars before realizing that he has hit rock bottom. Although Foon successfully re-creates the thrill of winning and the desperation of the "I just need that one more double or nothing bet," the bulk of the story is weak. While it's realistic that Kip's mother would lend him her bankcard, it is inconceivable that she would not need it back or check her bank statements for months afterward. Why is no one alarmed when this basically promising student all of a sudden stops attending school for long periods of time? And why isn't Kip's smart, savvy girlfriend suspicious? Foon devotes 19 chapters to the teen's demise and 2 pages to his recovery-it is simply too hard to believe. Librarians would make use of a solid title to illustrate the dangers of compulsive gambling, but this is not it.-Joanne K. Cecere, Highland High School, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.