Don't Make Me Smile

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Overview

Charlie Hickle’s parents have just dropped a major bombshell. They’re getting a divorce—and for some reason they expect him to understand. Understand? Understand why his dad’s moving into a disgusting, smelly apartment? Understand why his mom isn’t cooking anything for dinner these days except macaroni and cheese? Understand why they’re ruining his life? Oh no. Charlie doesn’t think so. In fact, he can think of lots of ways to show them his real feelings about the situation. And...
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Overview

Charlie Hickle’s parents have just dropped a major bombshell. They’re getting a divorce—and for some reason they expect him to understand. Understand? Understand why his dad’s moving into a disgusting, smelly apartment? Understand why his mom isn’t cooking anything for dinner these days except macaroni and cheese? Understand why they’re ruining his life? Oh no. Charlie doesn’t think so. In fact, he can think of lots of ways to show them his real feelings about the situation. And being understanding about it isn’t even on the list.

A young boy has trouble adjusting to his parent's divorce.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394849782
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 7/12/1981
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Park

BARBARA PARK is best known as the author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling Junie B. Jones series, which has kept kids (and their grown-ups) laughing—and reading—for over two decades. Beloved by millions, the Junie B. Jones books have been translated into multiple languages and are a time-honored staple in elementary school classrooms around the world. Every bit as funny as her best-known character, Barbara once said, “There are those who believe that the value of a children’s book can be measured only in terms of the moral lessons it tries to impose or the perfect role models it offers. Personally, I happen to think that a book is of extraordinary value if it gives the reader nothing more than a smile or two. In fact, I happen to think that’s huge.”

Barbara Park is also the author of award-winning middle grade novels and bestselling picture books, including Skinnybones, Mick Harte Was Here, and The Kid in the Red Jacket.

Barbara Park was born in New Jersey in 1947 and spent most of her adult life in Arizona, where she and her husband, Richard, raised two sons. Barbara died in 2013, but her legacy lives on in the laughter her books give to readers all over the world.

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    1. Hometown:
      Scottsdale, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 21, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Mt. Holly, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.S., University of Alabama, 1969
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

One

THERE ARE certain things that happen to you that you never forget. I'm not sure why that is. But I know it's true. For example, no matter how old I get, I'll never forget the first time I was in a school program.

I was in the first-grade chorus. And since I was a very short first grader, I got to stand in the front row where everyone could see me.

Boy, I really thought I was hot stuff, too. I stood up there and sang my guts out. I even used my hands the way the singers on television do.

When it was all over, the audience started clapping like crazy. It made me feel great. I must have bowed about two hundred times. Even while we were walking back to the room, I was still bowing.

I love going back to the room after a school program. You always get to horse around with the other kids until your parents come pick you up. The teacher tells you to calm down, but at night she doesn't really care. She only gets paid to keep you calm during the day.

Pretty soon, I saw my mother hurrying in the door. She was walking so fast, my father couldn't keep up with her. I could tell she was pretty excited about my performance.

Wow! I said to myself. I must have been even better than I thought. My mother looks like she wants my autograph or something!

As soon as she spotted me, Mom ran over and bent down beside me. I closed my eyes and got ready for one of her big fat kisses. But instead, she leaned over and whispered, "Charles, your zipper was down."

I looked down to see. And there, sticking out of my navy blue pants, was this big fat wad of underwear all bunched up in my zipper.

All I could think of was how stupid I must have looked on stage in front of all those people! How can you look like a big singing star with a bunch of underwear hanging out of your pants?

So I started to cry.

Okay, I know that there are a lot of first graders who wouldn't have cared one bit. They would have just zipped up and forgotten all about it. But that's not the kind of kid I am. To me, underwear is real private stuff. I don't even like my cat to see me in it.

After I fastened my zipper, I started yelling at my mother. Anytime you're upset, you're supposed to yell at your mother. They expect it. It's part of their job.

"It's all your fault!" I said. "You're the one who made me so short."

Mom tried to quiet me down. A couple of the other parents who had come in began to stare. Meanwhile, my father started looking around the room, pretending he didn't know me.

"Shh!" said my mother. "You don't have to shout, Charlie. And besides, what in the world does being short have to do with your fly being down?"

"Well, if you didn't make me so short, I would never have had to stand in the front row," I said. "And if I wasn't in the front row, no one would have seen that my zipper was down."

I guess I shouldn't have been talking so loud. Benjamin Fowler's parents started to laugh. My father left the room and headed for the car.

"Charles, please," said Mom as she hurried me out the door. "I'm sorry you're so upset about this. But I don't think it's fair to blame me just because you forgot to zip your fly."

"And stop calling it my fly!" I yelled.

Fly. Isn't that just about the stupidest name you've ever heard for a zipper?

My parents finally took me home and put me to bed. Before my father turned out the light, he gave me a little talk on zippers. He told me that being caught with your zipper down is just part of wearing pants. He also told me I would get used to it.

Well, he was wrong. I'm almost eleven years old now, and I'm still not used to it.

My mother says it's because I'm too sensitive.

Sensitive means that certain things bother you a lot more than they bother most people. For instance, whenever our family watches a real sad movie on TV, I'm always the first one to start blubbering. I try not to. But just when I think I've got myself under control, someone in the movie goes and dies. That's when the blubbering starts.

Sensitive also means that you get your feelings hurt easily. I know this is true about myself. Sometimes, my feelings can get crushed over the least little thing. In fact, it just happened again a few weeks ago.

It was my father's birthday. And if there's one thing around our house I love, it's birthdays.

But this particular birthday was going to be even more special than any other. For the first time ever, I was going to get to buy Dad a present totally on my own. My mother said I could even keep it a surprise from her.

A few days before the big event, she drove me to the shopping center to buy his gift. She waited in the car while I ran in to get it. It didn't take long at all. I knew exactly what I wanted.

As soon as I got it home, I ran to my room to wrap it. I was afraid if I didn't wrap it right away, my mother might look in the box while I was in school. I don't mean to make Mom sound like a sneak or anything. But sometimes it's better not to test her.

I really can't explain why I wanted to keep this whole thing such a secret. I guess it just made it more special that way.

Anyway, when my father's birthday finally came, I couldn't wait for him to open my gift. When he started to unwrap it, my heart began to beat very fast. I felt kind of dumb getting so excited about it. But I just couldn't help myself.

Slowly, Dad lifted the lid of the box and peeked under the tissue paper.

I knew right away that I was in trouble.

"Oh, wow. Look at this," he said. "Gee whiz, Charlie. This is just great."

He didn't fool me a bit. Whenever someone opens a present and says, "Oh, wow. Look at this," it only means one thing. They don't know what it is.

Think about it. What do you say when you open up a new shirt? Simple. You say, "Oh, wow. A new shirt." And when you open up a new game, you say, "Oh, wow. A new game." But if you're not exactly sure what it is you're looking at, that's when you say, "Oh, wow. Look at this."

My father took his present out of the box and began examining it more carefully. He was trying his best to figure out what it was.

Finally, he unfolded it and put his hand inside. "Oh, boy. I've always wanted one of these," he said.

It was so embarrassing I couldn't stand it.

"It doesn't go on your hand, Dad," I said at last. "It goes on your head. It's a chef's hat. You're supposed to wear it outside when you barbecue."

Dad laughed. "Oh, right! A chef's hat! Of course! A chef's hat!" he said.

He put it on his head. "Just call me Chef Boyardee!" he said in this ridiculous Italian accent.

By then, my mother was laughing, too.

I wasn't laughing at all. The reason I wasn't laughing was simple. It was not supposed to be a funny gift. If I had wanted to get a funny gift, I would have bought rubber vomit.

Anyway, by this time I guess my father could see that my feelings were hurt. He took off the hat and stopped clowning around.

He came over and hugged me. "Thanks a lot, Charlie," he said. "I really do like it. As a matter of fact, I think I'll barbecue tonight so I can wear it right away."

"Yeah, sure, Dad," I answered, trying to act cool. But inside, I felt awful.

Since then, my father's worn the chef's hat two or three times, probably. But I'm pretty sure he only put it on when he thought I was watching.

And if that's true, I guess I won't be seeing him wear it very much around here anymore.

Because two weeks after his birthday, my father moved out of the house.

He and my mother are getting a divorce.

DIVORCE—A DEFINITION

Divorce. To me, that word never really meant much. I think it's one of those words like death. You know that it happens to a lot of people, but as long as it's not you, you don't pay much attention.

As a matter of fact, I don't ever remember seeing divorce spelled before. I'm positive it's never been on any of my spelling lists at school. Come to think of it, neither has death. I guess you're supposed to learn how to spell all the sad words on your own.

I looked it up in my dictionary. It said: divorce/dih-vors'/n. 1. a complete legal breaking up of a marriage. 2. complete separation.

Well, that may be what the dictionary thinks divorce is, but I'll tell you what it really is.

Divorce is like watching your parents back the car over your brand-new bicycle. You can see what's about to happen, but the car is already moving.

You shout, "STOP! STOP!" But no one hears you. So you just stand there and watch the tires of the car crush your bike as flat as a pancake. And you get this terrible, sick feeling inside you, like you're going to throw up or faint or something.

You cry, but it doesn't help. Your parents say they're sorry, but that doesn't help, either.

Nothing helps.

It's all smashed to pieces, and it will never be the same.

That's divorce.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2003

    Funniest Book I've Ever Read!

    This book is fun and thrilling to read that once I start reading it I can't get my eyes off of it!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2002

    Park has done GREAT

    I've read all of Park's middle grader books except for 3! Every single one of them is good but Don't Make me Smile is a very true story. It's all that a kid really would feel and think if his/her parents were getting a divorce. Park is my Favorite author and I'm proud to say it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2002

    best book I ever read

    I like this book because it is funny and it tells how a boy feels about his mom and dad being separated. It's funny when he goes to live in the tree, and when his mom makes him eat macarroni all the time. I like this book alot, I hope there is a book number 2!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Dggdghgfg

    So good! I laughed out loud so many times reading this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Bravo

    This is splendid! You will find this book sad but when you think its gonna stay like that,the main character Charlie cracks a funnyjoke. I think this book is great if u have gone through a divorce( your parents, not u)

    Julia

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Kaylee

    This is one of the funniest & entertaining books ive ever read. I couldnt put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Allendra

    it was great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    Lizzie

    Best book ever I have readi twice that is how good it is lol

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Sequal

    The sequal's called "My mother got married and other disasters" hapoe i helped

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    ¿AAAAAHHHHHHHH

    THAT WAS ME PEING MY PANTS!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Good

    Hilarrious

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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