A sixth book in the series is expected, to the delight of Charlie’s fans.

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CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE PUNY PIRATES

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 5

Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers and friends as they suffer on a losing soccer team.

Charlie, Hector, and Tommy could be the best soccer trio in history if only they could play offense at the same time. Why can’t coach Mr. Carmody see that? Harley’s fifth book in the Charlie Bumpers series sets the scene on the soccer field instead of the classroom or the school stage. Deftly straddling the gap between slapstick-level soccer beginners and serious preteen athletes, the Pirates focus on fundamentals while getting shellacked by all their opponents. Since winning a game seems elusive (although all the adults say they never keep score), the three friends pool their resources selling chocolate bars for the fundraiser. Maybe they can win that prize instead! Harley paints a world immediately familiar to most 9-year-olds and embellishes it with the high jinks that life provides. Charlie’s soccer team is terrible. Charlie’s family drives him crazy. Charlie loses the fundraising money. Nothing life-threatening, nothing alien, just honest-to-goodness growing up while learning to play for the love of the game. The surprise is that it is suspenseful, hilarious, and revealing, with no tidy solution at the end. This is a quick and easy read, comforting and diverse even if suburban; in addition to white Charlie, African-American Tommy, and Latino Hector, the Pirates are a nicely multiethnic team.

A sixth book in the series is expected, to the delight of Charlie’s fans. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-939-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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