I was just beginning to read my third straight MG book and like the previous two it was going to be full of emotion and gut wrenching family situations. Death, divorce, sibling fights, and unthinkable tragedies were the norm for my book selections in February. I needed a break and my go to author for humor, Tommy Greenwald, did the trick in his fourth guide from the Charlie Joe Jackson series.
Yes, Charlie Joe is way over the top, but he has a loving family with a sense of humor about his antics. Middle school has brought many challenges for Charlie Joe including spending a lot of time trying to figure out girls. He also is broke and ends up in three money making schemes. He narrates most of the book but does turn over a few chapters to his friend, Katie Friedman (She takes center stage in her own book released last month – KATIE FRIEDMAN GIVES UP TEXTING!)
Reluctant readers will enjoy the variety of chapter lengths (a few are only one sentence long) and any book that has cow jumping in the climax of the story is sure to appeal to many boys and girls alike. To me its like dessert and had me smiling the entire way.
PUBLICATION DATE:2014 WORD COUNT: 31,175 READING LEVEL: 5.0
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): Charlie Joe’s weekly allowance just isn’t cutting it and he desperately needs money to buy a Botman, the latest gadget to sweep his middle school. Only catch is, he wants to earn the money by doing the least amount of work possible. After several failed attempts, including a near disastrous day of dog-walking, Charlie Joe hatches a plan to throw his own bar mitzvah (no gifts please—checks only) even though he’s not Jewish. Hilarity ensues when throwing a fake coming-of-age party turns out to be much harder than it looks.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO MAKING MONEY by Tommy Greenwald
- The plot is so ridiculous, but it works because Charlie Joe makes it all seem very plausible.
- The parents are loving and fair when CJJ makes mistakes. His older sister is also very supportive. It’s nice to have a family intact in an MG book.
- I notice when boys pick up books they tend to flip through the pages to check how crowded the text is on the pages and for visuals. This series has different fonts and enough pictures to peek their interest. Little do they know its a trap, but a good one.
- Charlie Joe spouts his wisdom with eight separate financial tips throughout the book. Some of it actually makes sense, but most is the 13-year-old mind seeing things a bit differently. Funny all the way for sure.
- I can already predict the next Charlie Joe guide. It will have something to do with getting the right girlfriend. Things are headed that way with the previous stories so I hope Mr. Greenwald is already going down that writing path.
FAVORITE LINES: Now, usually I loved teacher development day, like all kids, but suddenly I realized how ridiculous it was. What was it that teachers were constantly developing anyway?
QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: “No dogs or cows were harmed in the making of this book.”
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.