Facing the prospect of missing a bicycle campout with friends Tommy and Josh, bikeless Roosevelt makes a deal with his parents.
The question is: Can Roosevelt stay out of trouble for two weeks? It’s not going to be easy, as he not only has a well-deserved reputation as a fourth grade prankster to protect, but pushy classmate Eddie immediately opens a campaign to get invited in his place. Complicating Roosevelt’s strenuous efforts to toe the line rather than cross it (or at least not get caught), Calkhoven tucks plenty of narrow squeaks into her generously leaded narrative—along with alimentary banter, presidential trivia (Roosevelt’s dog is named Millard Fillmore, and his little sister’s Kennedy), and a fantastically gross incident in which he tries to hide a frog by popping it into his mouth. Readers also see him wrestle with guilt as his loyal friend Tommy twice bails him out by taking the heat in his stead. That guilt leads at last to a blubbering confession to his (fortunately understanding) mom and dad, and in the end he gets his bike, his outing, and even a developing friendship with Eddie. Palen methodically diversifies the cast in her sporadic grayscale illustrations (Tommy’s black, Josh’s Asian, and Eddie’s white), and though Roosevelt and his mom present white, his dad and Kennedy both have somewhat darker skin.
Broad humor lightens the load of this lesson, and nuanced friendships enrich it. (Fiction. 8-10)