From the Publisher
“In author Tommy Greenwald's raucous debut…this comedy of comeuppance shows its true colors, and, irony of ironies, is impossible to put down!” Disney's Family Fun
“A perfect book for the non-reader or reluctant reader in your life...Laugh-out-loud funny, clever, and relevant, I believe Tommy Greenwald has written a book that will appeal to kids of all reading tastes.” ReadKiddoRead.com
“This is a fun, fast-moving look at middle-school life through the eyes of a kid who would rather clean his room than pick up a book. Reluctant readers will be pleased.” SLJ
“A delightful choice for reluctant readers...Tommy Greenwald's writing style is breezy and accessible without being too easy. It is also extremely funny and hard to put down. If the book's cover showed something blowing up, every reluctant boy reader in middle school would be proud to carry it around while secretly enjoying the nonviolent, straightforward story. Bookworms won't care; they'll love it either way.” BookPage
“Kids who do peruse the book will enjoy Charlie Joe's chuckleworthy tips on keeping reading at bay, even if they take exception to his list of "helpful oxymorons: 1. good book, 2. happy reader, 3. important author, 4. nice library, 5. favorite bookstore.” BCCB
“Charlie Joe's insider knowledge of the inner machinations of middle-school cliques will make younger readers smile in anticipation, and his direct address to readers makes make him feel like an older buddy showing the way…Slackers everywhere have a new, likable hero in Charlie Joe Jackson.” Kirkus Reviews
“Hilarious...This debut is filled with passages that beg to be shared...With its subversive humor and contemporary details drawn straight from kids' worlds, this clever title should attract a wide following.” Booklist, STARRED review
“Greenwald pulls off a clever bit of reverse psychology in his debut, first in a series starring a cheeky middle grader who goes to great lengths to avoid reading--and whose humor and rapid-fire delivery should draw in like-minded kids.” Publishers Weekly
Greenwald pulls off a clever bit of reverse psychology in his debut, first in a series starring a cheeky middle grader who goes to great lengths to avoid reading—and whose humor and rapid-fire delivery should draw in like-minded kids. From the start, Charlie Joe schmoozes playfully with readers, promising short chapters and shorter words ("One syllable. Or less"). Kids who, upon entering the school library, may have been asked (as Charlie Joe is), "did you take a wrong turn somewhere?" will find an enthusiastic advocate in the boy. Throughout, he provides "tips" that dedicated nonreaders will enjoy ("If you have to read a book, make sure it has short chapters"). The novel chronicles Charlie Joe's machinations to avoid reading, which involve getting his classmates to do so for him; using this tactic for a research paper about school cliques yields revelations about clique mentality, but lands Charlie Joe in more trouble. Doth Charlie Joe protest too much? Maybe, but Greenwald wisely eschews an end-of-story reformation for his comic antihero, ensuring that readers will be treated to more of his entertaining circumlocutions in future books. Ages 9–12. (July)
Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
The sixty-seven mostly very short chapters written by Charlie Joe Jackson, expert reading dodger, is a hilarious non-reader's escape. The purpose of the book in the words of Charlie is "to show people how to get out of reading." It is that and more, if the reader follows any of the multiple points on Charlie Joe's twenty-five lists of tips to non-reading. When Charlie Joe's back-up reader, Timmy, gets caught trading ice cream sandwiches for book report summaries, the protagonist scrambles for another way out of middle school reading. After a momentary rescue by his sister, Megan, Charlie falls headlong into a convoluted scheme to rescue himself from a multi-book reading project involved in the notorious eighth grade Position Paper. Charlie's intricate plan involves match-making, bribery, a beloved Beatles album cover, the psychology of middle school cliques, and a school dance. This entertaining book has all the elements of a romance spy novel with heart break, suspense, and a major plot twist. If the reader is suspicious of Charlie Joe's tactics to con the reader into reading, he will be pleasantly surprised and satisfied by the time the last page turns. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Charlie Joe Jackson is a likable middle schooler and an unabashed nonreader. In fact, he's so against the practice that he constantly flirts with danger to ensure that he never has to crack a book. He makes deals with friends to fill him in on assigned reading. When he is caught, it becomes much more difficult to pull off his year-end, research-heavy "Position Paper." He nails it, but there is no happy ending, and he writes a book—this book—as punishment. Greenwald believably inhabits the mind of a tween, with the cliques and short-lived first romances that come with it. Charlie Joe narrates his story while providing humorous tips between chapters about reading and avoiding it. This is a fun, fast-moving look at middle-school life through the eyes of a kid who would rather clean his room than pick up a book. Reluctant readers will be pleased.—Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI
Charlie Joe will do just about anything to avoid reading in this humorous cautionary tale for book-hating middle-grade students.
Debut author Greenwald takes on the persona of Charlie Joe Jackson, a middle-school boy who hates reading. His avoidance techniques get him into serious trouble with his parents, his teachers and his friends. After a year of avoiding reading—paying off a friend in ice-cream sandwiches to read books for him and manipulating his friends so he won't have to read for the all-important position-paper project—Charlie Joe is forced to spend his summer vacation writing a book about his poor choices. Charlie Joe's insider knowledge of the inner machinations of middle-school cliques will make younger readers smile in anticipation, and his direct address to readers makes make him feel like an older buddy showing the way. Sprinkled into the narrative are "Charlie Joe's Tips" to avoiding reading books, written on faux notebook paper, that serve as a little diversion from the plot. As amusing as this is, Charlie Joe's voice is not consistent and occasionally jars with the intelligent, smart-guy sarcasm that characterizes most of Charlie Joe's prose.
That aside, slackers everywhere have a new, likable hero in Charlie Joe Jackson. (Fiction. 10-12)
Read an Excerpt
My name is Charlie Joe Jackson, and I hate reading. And if you’re reading this book, you hate reading, too.
In fact, you do whatever you can to avoid reading, and the fact that you’re holding a book in your hand right now is kind of shocking.
I know exactly how you feel; I’m one of you.
Just remember: you are not alone. We’ll get through this together.
Text copyright © 2011 by Tommy Greenwald