What You Need to Know:|
• This book introduces readers to Charlie Joe Jackson. Book 2 was released in August, 2012, and a third is on its way.
• It is a story about a boy who seriously hates to read. He'll do whatever it takes to get out of reading.
• The characters are in middle school and show an interest in boy/girl relationships, but it's all very innocent.
• This story should appeal to both boys and girls.
• Short chapters, Charlie Joe's Tips, and sporadic illustrations keep the pages flipping quickly.
Do you have a reluctant reader? Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading will feel like it was written just for them.
To those kids, Charlie says,
"I know exactly how you feel; I'm one of you. Just remember: you are not alone. We'll get through this together."
Don't be fooled by the title, though. Even if your reader isn't reluctant, he or she will relate to Charlie. His story has something for everyone. Yes, Charlie Joe is proud of his record of not reading a single book, and he will do pretty much anything to keep it up. Yes, he pays off his friend, Timmy, with lunchroom snacks in exchange for book summaries, and yes, he even sets up his long-time love, Hannah, with his buddy, Jake, in exchange for Jake's cliff notes. But, Charlie Joe shares much more than a tale about the horrors of reading.
Charlie is honest (to the reader, not to his parents or teachers!) and straightforward as he shares his thoughts (which are usually quite hilarious) on relationships, cliques, teachers and family. He explains his point of view on a lot of basic middle school principles. For example, he realizes that in middle school, having a girl for a best friend is no longer technically acceptable, but Katie Friedman is still his "go-to" person. Why?
Because, as Charlie says, "I've found that in matters of feelings and thinking, girls seem to have a handle on things that guys just don't. They seem to care more. Or maybe they're just less afraid to admit it." His thoughts on girls in general: "They like it when a guy gets teary...", they "love the gentle hand on the shoulder. It's brotherly, but manly." and "...pretty girls think being pretty is like a license to talk loud." Charlie's view on sports? "In youth sports these days, the best athletes play one sport all year long, almost like a job. It's crazy."
Charlie also offers tips like "Reading Can Make You fat" and "Always Be Wary of the Plot Twist". Under tip #8, "Not All Books are Bad", Charlie includes the rare books that he approves of - comic books, yearbooks, checkbooks and Facebook. He even offers some advice to parents: "If you want us to be able to concentrate, don't take away our distractions." Charlie Joe points out the formula that most books follow, and then tries to steer clear of those pitfalls.
The beauty of Charlie Joe is that although he does the wrong thing, he handles it with humor, grace and charm. He's not a total slacker, he is not predictable, and although, at times, he seems to have no conscience, he does have redeeming qualities. He's a good friend, he likes his family, he's not swayed by the opinions of others, and he even takes responsibility for his actions. He's very authentic and somewhat flawed, which must be why my daughter said that this book feels more real, versus Diary of a Wimpy Kid which feels more like a comic book.
2012, 240 pages
Books & Reading, Books for Boys, Cliques/Popularity, Humor, School
• Would you like to be friends with Charlie Joe?
• Why doesn't Charlie Joe like to read?
• What do you like or dislike about reading? Do you prefer a physical book or an e-book?
• Do you think that Charlie Joe's popularity experiment would work in your school? Why or why not?
• What does Hannah like about Jake?
• Why doesn't Charlie Joe like Eliza?
• What do you think the future holds for Charlie Joe and Katie?
• Does Charlie's punishment fit his crime?
• Will the punishment change the way Charlie Joe feels about reading? Why or why not?
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