August 2012

How to succeed in school without really trying

By Tommy Greenwald
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Charlie Joe Jackson is back! Fans of Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading will not be surprised to learn that his new adventure is titled Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit. Being the slacker that he is, Charlie Joe has waited almost too late to earn good grades. If he doesn’t get his failing grades in order, his parents will send him to an intensively boring summer camp where reading is the main activity.

Mind you, it’s not that Charlie Joe can’t do the work, he just doesn’t have the ambition to do it. He likes goofing around more than buckling down, and this attitude has landed him in trouble again. As in the previous book, Charlie Joe adds “tips” between the chapters on how to succeed—usually by listing the things he should have done himself, but didn’t. These tips are hilarious and right on the money: “Remember that Science is not recess” and “If a teacher is giving you extra credit, do not injure them in any way.”

Tommy Greenwald’s first book was a big hit with the middle grades, especially reluctant readers. The continuation of Charlie Joe’s story is sure to draw the same crowd, but it’s refreshingly funny for anyone. Mild crushes and “who’s dating who” discussions make the book most appropriate for junior high students, but fourth graders and up should enjoy Charlie Joe and his entertaining efforts to stave off academic disaster.

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