Sunday, May 19, 2013

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Summer Vacation by Tommy Greenwald

Illustrated by J.P. Coovert. 231 p. Roaring Brook Press, May 7, 2013. 9781596437579. (Purchased.)

My favorite reluctant reader is back and I'm happy to report that momentum is not faltering. In author Greenwald's capable hands, Charlie Joe is fresher and funnier than ever. (And, he may be maturing, just a teensy bit, sh-h!)

Charlie Joe pleads temporary insanity when, on the last day of school, he decided to make his parents happy and attend Camp Rituhbukkee (pronounced, read-a-bookie). "Books were everywhere. And cell phones and video games were nowhere." (p. 2) 

What has Charlie Joe gotten himself into? One look at the camp schedule confirmed Charlie Joe's worst fears, that camp was school in disguise and that he risks turning into a reader, writer and quite possibly, nerd, unless he does some quick thinking. 

Luckily for Charlie Joe, he is not alone. Katie Friedman decided to attend camp and Nareem Ramdal, is a returning camper. But there are 75 other kids, many of them sporting tee shirts to Ivy League colleges, that think reading is fun, fun, fun. There is some time to swim and play basketball built into this schedule to achieve a "perfect balance of studies and recreation." In this environment, where it's cool to be nerdy, Charlie Joe is definitely the odd man out.

Unfortunately for Charlie Joe, there's a basketball rivalry between Camp Rituhbukkee and Camp Wockajocka. Charlie Joe learns that his arch-nemisis Teddy Spivero is on the team. Just great. He manages to make the best of it in his inimitable Charlie Joe style. 

Instead of Charlie Joe's tips, letters to and from camp are interspersed throughout to keep the reader up-to-date about news from the home front. Coovert's clever cartoons break up the text nicely as well. 

CJJ3 is a must purchase, preferably in multiple copies. I'm donating my copy to my school library, where there is a waiting list already and it's not even cataloged. 

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