Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit
Tommy Greenwald
J.P. Coovert (Illustrator)
Roaring Book Press, 2012  272 pgs
Grades 5-6
Charlie Joe Jackson Series #2

Wise-guy, Charlie Joe Jackson, has a problem.  His grades are terrible and his parents are threatening to send him to book camp.  He must achieve all "A"s with only one "B" to avoid this unpleasant fate.What's a scholastically reluctant class clown to do?  First he throws himself on the mercy of his egg-head friends for tutoring in the academic subjects.  Then he throws himself on his art, gym, and drama teacher's mercy for some much needed extra credit.  Extra credit with the elderly art teacher involves dressing in a dorky old-fashioned suit and posing while she paints him.  This situation improves when the teacher is joined by her granddaughter, cute new girl, Zoe, on whom Charlie Joe develops a crush, resulting in a run-in with the school bully.  In order to get extra- credit for phys-ed Charlie Joe must join the student council, of which the phys-ed teacher is the adviser for.  This isn't so bad, except that Charlie Joe must help campaign for the teacher's pet project: Ambidexterity Week.  A meeting with the principal to discuss the plans ends in a broken window and dashed hopes.  Next, on to drama.  Charlie Joe auditions for the school play and, much to everyone's surprise, lands the leading role.  He finds that he enjoys acting and may have found his niche.  Predictably, Disaster strikes opening night when Charlie Joe has to kiss his former crush with the whole school, including Zoe, watching--and he chokes.  The school year finally draws to a close and the grades are released.  Did Charlie Joe obtain his goal or will he be tortured at book camp?  Read this hilarious book to find out!

Between a construction project at work and chaos at home, life has been intense lately.  I was in desperate need of a light book with some laughs.  Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit was just the ticket.  Greenwald has written a very likable, human, and hysterically funny character in Charlie Joe and his story provides some truly laugh-out-loud moments.  Cartoon-like illustrations make this a natural choice for kids who have grown out of the wimpy kid books and its a slam-dunk for reluctant readers.  Anyone would enjoy reading this book.  It reads quickly with short chapters and generous margins, but has enough pages that teachers would accept it for book reports.  Its is written on a higher level than Wimpy Kid and some upper level vocabulary is secretly imbedded (ex. Ambidextrous).  No great lessons are learned and Greenwald has no agenda, besides getting kids to love reading.  This volume is actually the second in the series, but it stands alone and no prior knowledge of volume one is needed.  Two series entries follow this volume, along with a new companion book from the point of view of  Charlie Joe's friend Katie.  All the series entries have zippy titles and enticing covers just begging to be read.  Kids will wish they went to school with Charlie Joe Jackson and may try to get some extra credit of their own.  After reading this book one questions remains: how can I sign myself up for book camp?

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