As the end of the school year fast approaches, Charlie learns that his friend Hector will be moving back to Chile. Can Charlie cook up a scheme to keep Hector at school?
In this seventh and final book of the Charlie Bumpers series, Grammy-winner Harley reveals the conflict that bullying creates in the mind of a fourth-grader. Narrated in a balance of warmhearted insight and wacky naiveté, Charlie’s life will resonate with readers trying to navigate the simple but realistic perils of elementary school. Making friends, getting along with siblings, avoiding trouble at school—these situations matter to young readers, and Harley captures these emotions with a light and humorous touch. The Jerzollies of Darkness (three boys who are all jerks, bozos, and bullies) have been seriously bullying Hector. When adult support disappoints, Charlie and friends take matters into their own hands with mixed results. This young, white male protagonist, in his suburban, middle-class setting, nonetheless taps into universal feelings, and Charlie’s genuine friendships with Hector and Tommy, who’s black, keep diversity on the table. Gustavson’s illustrations, rendered in India ink and watercolor, deftly cover friend and foe alike, giving shape to Charlie’s world.
The series ends with the feeling of a completed arc for this fourth-grade year. Fans will feel satisfied but will find themselves hoping another year’s in the offing. (Fiction. 7-10)