Underdog City (Hardcover)
From the acclaimed author of The Last Super Chef and Dan Unmasked comes a heartfelt standalone novel about community, justice, and redemption, perfect for fans of Take Back the Block and Brave Like That.
Mortimer Bray is not okay.
It seems like everything in his life is changing for the worse. After his own much-loved dog dies, he can’t bring himself to carry on with his dog-walking business; there’s a strange new girl who’s moved into the house next door; and suddenly there’s a buzzing feeling of anxiety in his head and heart when he’s faced with something new.
His neighborhood, Townsend Heights, used to feel like the most comfortable place in the world. But lately, it seems like everyone is arguing, and there’s uncertainty around every corner.
The neighborhood's only vacant lot is somehow behind it all, Mortimer is sure of that much. If he can unearth the lot's secret history, he just might stop the Heights from unraveling completely.
Mortimer can’t save Townsend Heights on his own. But when it comes to community, you’re never truly on your own—not as long as you’re willing to learn from the past, in order to do better in the future.
Chris Negron is the author of several novels for children, including Georgia Author of the Year finalist and Sakura Medal nominee Dan Unmasked. His latest novel, Underdog City, released in the fall of 2023, again from HarperCollins. He holds a computer science degree from Yale University, but it was his years of playing Dungeons & Dragons in friends' basements that inspired him to write stories about the things he loves, including comic books, baseball, competitive cooking shows, and dogs. Visit him at chrisnegron.com.
"A touching, timely, and humorous tale of friends and family (and dogs and roosters) learning the true definition of community, Underdog City teaches us how compassion and goodwill can overtrump discrimination and division and shows us that a real neighborhood is so much more than lines drawn on a map."
— John David Anderson, bestselling author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day
"Dogs and friendship take center stage in this heartfelt story about the power of courage and community. Once again, Negron nails the nuance of the inner life of boys. In Mortimer, we meet the ultimate underdog, and he shows us how ordinary kids can rise to extraordinary heights."
— Nicole D. Collier, author of The Many Fortunes of Maya
"The perfect read for any kid who has ever felt like an underdog. A heartfelt story of triumph, Chris Negron shows deep understanding of relationships and how a little bit of courage can save the day."
— Rosalind Bunn, co-author of the All Aboard series
“With the help of the Red Devil and man’s best friend, Mortimer’s insecurity evolves to valor in this sweet, inspiring tale. Relatable to readers of any age, Negron makes sure to spark that sense of ambition when it comes to something we truly value.”
— Maggie Bunn, co-author of the All Aboard series
"Mortimer’s anxiety is powerfully portrayed and realistically permeates every aspect of his life. Kind community members, both human and dog, help him manage his constantly racing thoughts and support him during his grieving process in this discerning celebration of connection and healing." — Publishers Weekly
"The first-person narrative... builds momentum as Mortimer regains his self-confidence, learns about Townsend Heights’ history, and works with friends both young and old on a counterproposal. Mortimer... is well meaning and wise beyond his years, and animal antics provide comic relief. A meaningful exploration of young people’s involvement in community activism." — Kirkus Reviews
Praise for THE LAST SUPER CHEF: "Food descriptions and attention to preparatory details pop as Negron serves up a toothsome tale filled with insight into the unseen obstacles even idols face, accented by commentary on poverty and different forms that family can assume." — Publishers Weekly
"With a winning concept, and full of humor and hijinks, middle grade readers are going to eat up THE LAST SUPER CHEF. A truly delightful read that is packed with so much heart." — Jasmine Warga, New York Times bestselling author of Other Words for Home
“This book had me grinning ear to ear from page one to the very end. There might have been a tear or two shed as well. Chris Negron is fast becoming one of my favorite voices in middle grades fiction.” — Greg Howard, author of The Whispers
"Perfect for fans of Chopped Junior." — Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR DAN UNMASKED: “Dan Unmasked is a grand slam of a debut: timeless, moving, and filled to the brim with heart. I can’t stop thinking about it.” — Becky Albertalli, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
"Dan Unmasked is about sports and comics but also about the complicated nature of guilt and grief and the healing power of community. A beautiful new addition to the middle grade canon." — Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound
"Stirringly hits every despairing low and thrilling high of a sports movie." — Kirkus Reviews