Charlie Bumpers knows the role he wants in the fourth-grade class play: Evil Sorcerer Kragon. What does he get? The Nice Gnome. Boogers.
Disappointed and angry, the endearing Charlie goes to battle. Three times, he tries to rid himself of the horrible part with its ridiculous costume. He even rewrites all of his lines to make them funny and cool, like the hero of his favorite TV show, Buck Meson—Detective from Andromeda. But Mrs. Burke is unyielding. This role is worse than having to clean up after his dog, Ginger. As the big night approaches, though, a special touch is added to his costume that makes a difference: Big brother Matt has taken a pair of white sneakers and spray painted them gold. “Awesome shoes,” Matt says. “Awesome gnome.” The last 20 pages quickly give Charlie a golden touch, as he saves the performance in multiple ways. Charlie even gets to ad-lib the Buck Meson quote he worked so hard to include. A storyteller with an uncanny sense of elementary school humor, Harley has penned a worthy sequel to Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year (2013). With illustrator Gustavson, he captures the frustration that comes with just having to make the best of a bad situation.
Charlie’s fans will be psyched to see that Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull is scheduled for fall 2014. (Fiction. 7-10)