May 03, 2013

Keeping his cool at summer camp

By Tommy Greenwald
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Charlie Joe Jackson has a reputation as a guy who doesn’t like to read—and he’s proud of it. In his first book, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading, we watched as he put more effort into avoiding the task than he would have if he had just read the assigned book. It looked like he might have learned his lesson from that escapade, but in his second outing, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit, he found new ways to get out of doing work—and into trouble. As a result of that misadventure, Charlie Joe now has to spend a large part of his summer vacation at Camp Rituhbukkee (“Read-a-Bookie”).

While he dreads the many scheduled classes and quiet reading times at the camp, he has a plan to help the “nerds” become cool like him. Charlie Joe is sure he can help them loosen up, not take themselves or their studies too seriously, and enjoy the summer. What he doesn’t anticipate happening is how much he will change himself. After reading a whole book—that he enjoyed!—he figures it was a fluke and not a sign that he is any different. As his friend Katie observes, however, Charlie Joe is fascinated by smart people and most of his friends back home are smart kids, so maybe he is more like them? Charlie Joe is repelled by the idea, but by the end of the book he has to admit that it might be true. Just a little.

Author Tommy Greenwald has written another winner with this third installment of the Charlie Joe Jackson series. Greenwald’s writing style is funny and smart, just like his main character. Almost every kid in school can relate to being a reluctant student at times, but also to reveling in cool academic discoveries. The kids at my library can’t wait for this book to hit the shelves.

Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school in Nashville.

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