Friday, April 05, 2019

Guy Friday- Goodbye, Charlie Bumpers

Harley, Bill. Charlie Bumpers vs. The End of the Year
April 1st 2019 by Peachtree Publishing Company
ARC provided by the publisher.

It's been a rocky year of fourth grade for Charlie, but he is not looking forward to moving on to fifth grade. He likes his teacher, he has friends in his class, and it's all comfortable and familiar. When his annoying younger sister Squid starts singing a song her teacher taught the class about standing up to bullies, Charlie has a stark realization: his friend Hector has been acting strangely in many of the ways Squid mentioned. Is he being bullied? Charlie consults his other friend, Tommy, and the two realize that Jaden, Darren, and Butler have been seen talking to Hector is a menacing way, and the two decide to become Heroes of Vengeance and save their friend. When Charlie talks to Hector, he finds out that his friend is moving with his family back to Chile because of his parents' jobs. Also, Hector doesn't want to be a tattletale, and asks Charlie to stay out of it. Charlie doesn't like this idea, and also doesn't want Hector to move away. In true Charlie fashion, he comes up with a plan to try to get the teachers to vote Hector a School Ambassador for the following year, hoping that this honor will convince the family not to move. Charlie and Tommy also keep an eye on Hector and the bullies. They do everything they are supposed to do-- they tell a cafeteria monitor about the troubles they are having, but she tells them to take care of the matter themselves. Eventually, Charlie knows he must stand up for his friend, and the resultant fracas finally gets the attention of Principal Rotelli and is resolved with teachers and parents alike in Emergency Mode. Charlie is not able to keep his friend from moving, but doing the right thing has unexpected rewards.
Strengths: It is VERY hard to get bullying right in a fiction book, but Harley does a great job. It's pitch perfect that Squid's teacher instructs the kids to do all the right things in second grade, but by fourth grade, Charlie starts to doubt all of these methods. Still, he does keep these actions in mind, and does watch out for his friend. He and Tommy are such typical students-- they come up with great ideas and questionable ways to implement them, but do so with SUCH enthusiasm. These are popular with my younger, more reluctant readers in 6th grade, but are absolutely essential in an elementary collection. I really, really, really hope Harley turns his hand to a slightly older character for his next book!
Weaknesses: Has anyone ever been given a wedgie at school? We did have a student twenty years ago who was pantsed in gym class, but I'm unsure about the reality of someone having their underwear pulled out of their pants, as Jaden did to Charlie.
What I really think: Sad to see Charlie go. A paperback series of these books would be a fantastic back-to-school gift for a second through fourth grader!

In case you've missed the other six books, I haven't!:
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Squeaking Skull
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Perfect Little Turkey
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Puny Pirates
Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth

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