The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy


By Mary Winn Heider

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$11.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $7.99 $11.99 CAD
  2. ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 3, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A tuba player without a tuba and his jellyfish-imitating sister cope with their father's disappearance in a middle-grade novel both hilarious and moving by Mary Winn Heider, the author of The Mortification of Fovea Munson. Now in paperback!

When Lenny Volpe, former quarterback of the worst professional football team in the nation, leaves his family and disappears, the Chicago Horribles win their first game in a long time. Fans are thrilled. The world seems to go back to normal. Except for the Volpe kids.

Winston throws himself into playing the tuba, and Louise starts secret experiments to find a cure for brain injuries, and they're each fine, just fine, coping in their own way. That is, until the investigation of some eccentric teacher behavior and the discovery of a real live bear paraded as the Horribles' new mascot make it clear that things are very much Not Fine. The siblings may just need each other, after all.


  • * "This tender, wacky, and often ­humorous story will be enjoyed by all middle grade readers. Librarians looking for books on unique and timely health topics in fiction should consider this title."
    School Library Journal, starred review
  • "Hand this to the kid that wants something smart and funny with a side order of turmoil for spice."
    Betsy Bird
  • "[T]he Volpe siblings are relatable as they shut each other out; their journey toward reconnecting is well worth the ride. Heider skillfully interweaves seemingly disparate threads into this character-centered, heartfelt story, culminating in a satisfying conclusion."
    Publishers Weeklly
  • * "Readers will be hard put to judge whether which is more entertaining—the plot or the cast—but between the two there’s never a dull moment. A buoyant ending leaves Winston, Louise, and the bear (who even gets a POV turn in one chapter) in better places."
  • "This is a story about teamwork in every sense of the word. It touches on how important it is to work together, support each other, and to ask for help when needed."
    School Library Connection
  • "Offbeat and poignant, this is a healing balm for living in an imperfect galaxy."
  • Praise for The Mortification of Fovea Munson:
    An Indies Introduce middle grade debut pick
    A Kids' Indie Next List pick

    "Equal parts screwball comedy, coming-of-age story, and tearjerker-I loved, loved, loved it!"
    Varian Johnson, author of The Parker Inheritance
  • "Hilarious and disgusting in equal measure. In other words, exactly what you've been waiting for."
    Adam Gidwitz, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor's Tale
  • "I absolutely adore this book! The Mortification of Fovea Munson is not only hilariously zany, and clever, it's also full of heart. Mary Winn Heider is a brilliant new voice in kid's books."
    Newbery Award winner, Matt de la Peña
  • "Fovea is a normal girl existing in a suddenly off-kilter world, and her struggle to help her family and newfound friends is relatable and satisfying."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Sure to tickle the most fickle funny bone."
    Kirkus Reviews

On Sale
May 3, 2022
Page Count
320 pages

Mary Winn Heider

About the Author

A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program, Mary Winn Heider is the author of The Mortification of Fovea Munson. She lives in Chicago, where she acts in plays, rides her bike, and works for The Mystery League. She invites you to visit her online at

Learn more about this author