by Bill Harley
Adam Gustavson, illustrator
5 Stars ///////////// To Short Review (click here)
Back Cover: Charlie Bumper’s worst fear is confirmed: He has Mrs. Burke for fourth grade! Up until now he’s been able to wiggle out of the messes he gets himself into, but will he survive a year under her watchful eyes and “exploding fingers?”
Opening: My dad always says, “Charlie Bumpers, your closet looks like a tornado came through and decided to live there.” Ha ha ha. My dad is a riot. But he is right.
About the Story: Charlie Bumpers is starting fourth grade with a trifecta of bad. First, he and best friend Tommy have always been in the same class . . . not this year. Second, Charlie has stupid white sneakers, not black like Tommy’s sneakers. Third, last year Charlie’s shoe accidentally hit a teacher’s head. The teacher was Mrs. Burke, Teacher of the Year and Charlie’s new teacher. Maybe she has forgotten. Charlie heard Mrs. Burke expects everything to be neat in her classroom. Charlie is not neat. He simply can’t do it. The more he tries the worse the mess becomes. That’s not all. The new gym teacher, Mr. Shuler, is stingy with the soccer balls Charlie and his friends played with at recess. This is going to be one tough school year for Charlie Bumpers!
What I Think: I like Charlie Bumpers vs the Teacher of the Year. Poor Charlie is caught in so many messes, many he never made, only tried to help fix. I like the elementary school hierarchy and how being nice and helpful towards a couple of first graders can flip into nothing but trouble for Charlie. It seems Charlie is all too often in the wrong place, being blamed for something he did not do. This makes for a funny story and one easy for kids to relate to one student or another. Kids will enjoy Charlie and his friends.
Charlie Bumpers vs the Teacher of the Year is an early reader with short chapters and only 138 pages of story. The author includes—as enticement—the first chapter of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnomes, the second book in this series. The author, Bill Harley also wrote the wonderful picture book titled Lost and Found—also illustrated by Adam Gustavson—about kids leaving their lost items in the lost and found box because of an unwarranted fear of the janitor. Mr. Harley’s writing is clear and concise. The humor will tickle young funny bones.
There are some illustrations in the book, all black and white as is typical in early readers. Mr. Gustavson does a marvelous job with facial expressions, notably on the two-page spread of Charlie’s younger sister. “Squirt” is animatedly telling about her first day of first grade. I think reluctant readers would enjoy Charlie Bumpers vs the Teacher of the Year. Most chapters are only five pages long, including the interspersed illustrations. I think this is going to be a great series for boys, though girls will find the story enjoyable as well. Finally, the author, a Grammy Award-winning musician, has written a son for the series. You can hear it HERE or at http://www.charliebumpers.com.
Released August 2013
Ages: 7 to 10
© 2013 by Peachtree Publishers, used with permission
Text: Copyright © 2013 by Bill Harley
Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by Adam Gustavson
Junior Library Guild Selection / available in eBook
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Charlie Bumpers vs the Teacher of the Year