Charlie Joe will do just about anything to avoid reading in this humorous cautionary tale for book-hating middle-grade students.
Debut author Greenwald takes on the persona of Charlie Joe Jackson, a middle-school boy who hates reading. His avoidance techniques get him into serious trouble with his parents, his teachers and his friends. After a year of avoiding reading—paying off a friend in ice-cream sandwiches to read books for him and manipulating his friends so he won’t have to read for the all-important position-paper project—Charlie Joe is forced to spend his summer vacation writing a book about his poor choices. Charlie Joe’s insider knowledge of the inner machinations of middle-school cliques will make younger readers smile in anticipation, and his direct address to readers makes make him feel like an older buddy showing the way. Sprinkled into the narrative are “Charlie Joe’s Tips” to avoiding reading books, written on faux notebook paper, that serve as a little diversion from the plot. As amusing as this is, Charlie Joe’s voice is not consistent and occasionally jars with the intelligent, smart-guy sarcasm that characterizes most of Charlie Joe’s prose.That aside, slackers everywhere have a new, likable hero in Charlie Joe Jackson. (Fiction. 10-12)