Charlie Joe Jackson, the most reluctant reader ever born, made it his mission in the first book to get through middle school without reading a single book from cover to cover. Now he's back, and
trying desperately to get straight A's in order to avoid going to academic camp for the summer. In order to do this, he will have to betray his friend, lose the girl of his dreams, and end up acting in a school play about the inventor of paper towels. Charlie Joe's not exactly the "school play kind of guy", but desperate times call for desperate measures.
About the Author
TOMMY GREENWALD is extra excited about the next chapter in the Charlie Joe Jackson series! His favorite meal is extra crispy fried chicken and ice cream with extra hot fudge sauce. Tommy lives in Connecticut with his extraordinary wife Cathy; his extra-special kids Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his extremely cute dogs, Moose and Coco. His favorite television show is Extra. Check out Tommy's website (no extra charge) at www.tommygreenwald.com.
Read an Excerpt
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit
By Tommy Greenwald, J.P. Coovert
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2012 Tommy Greenwald
All rights reserved.
I HATE REPORT CARDS
Charlie Joe's Tip #1
READ A LOT AND WORK HARD IN SCHOOL.
Reading and schoolwork are the backbone of every child's education.
It's extremely important to study hard and respect your teachers. The best way to make sure you get good grades is to do your work on time, and take great care and pride in everything you do. Try not to rely on extra credit if you don't have to, because it can turn out to be a very difficult process.
So, that's my first tip.
Or at least, it would be if we were living in fantasy land.
But we're living in real life, so ignore everything I just said.
Let's go back to the beginning: Report Card Day.
You probably already know that books and me don't get along.
And I'm not exactly what you'd call the most studious kid in the world.
In elementary school, that didn't really matter. I'd make my teachers laugh, and I'd participate in class, and I'd do just enough to get pretty good grades.
But everything changed in middle school. All of a sudden, the teachers expected me to actually read all the books and to pay close attention in class.
School turned out to be a lot more like school than it used to be.
Which is how Report Card Days became my least favorite days of the year.
"So what's the plan?" said my buddy, the ridiculously brilliant and unnecessarily hard-working Jake Katz. We were sitting at lunch. He asked me that every Report Card Day, as if I had some grand scheme to leave school in the middle of the day, go to my parents' computer, print out my report card (then delete the e-mail), find the nearest report-card-forgery expert and have him change all my C pluses to A minuses.
"I don't have a plan," I answered. Jake looked disappointed. I was pretty famous for my plans.
"My grades are definitely up this quarter," chimed in Timmy McGibney, my oldest and most annoying friend.
"That's super," I said, "but I don't want to talk about report cards right now."
I felt nervous, and I wasn't used to feeling nervous. I could usually get myself out of pretty much any bad situation, but going home to a lousy report card was kind of like going to a scary movie with your friends even though you hate scary movies. There was no way out.
I took a big swig of chocolate milk and immediately felt better. Chocolate milk is like that.
"Let's talk about something happy," I suggested, "like the fact that this is the last quarter of the year. Summer is right around the corner." Summer was my favorite time of year, by far. No school. No books. No report cards. There was absolutely nothing wrong with summer.
Then Hannah Spivero came up to our table and put her arm around Jake Katz, and I immediately felt worse again. Hannah Spivero is like that.
(Hannah, for those of you who have been living under a rock, happens to be the girl of my dreams. Only now, those dreams are nightmares, ever since she shocked the entire nation by deciding to like Jake Katz.)
Right behind Hannah was Eliza Collins and her adoring gang of followers, who I like to call the Elizettes. Eliza is the prettiest girl in school and has had a crush on me since third grade. The combination of those two things didn't make sense to anyone, especially me.
"Did I just hear someone mention summer?" Eliza asked. "What perfect timing! The girls and I have decided to form a Summer Planning Committee." Then she looked right at me. "It's coming up fast, and we need to make sure we have the best summer ever!"
Eliza was used to people cheering in her presence, so she ignored it.
"The first meeting of the committee is this Saturday at my house, and you're all invited," she added.
Hannah looked at Jake. "We have plans to go to the mall this Saturday."
I'll go to the mall with you, I thought.
"Maybe we can go to the mall on Sunday," Jake said. "The Summer Planning Committee sounds fun."
I couldn't believe my ears. Passing up alone time with Hannah Spivero went against everything I stood for as a person. "Okay, sure," Hannah said, but I could tell she was a little disappointed.
"What's wrong, Charlie Joe?" Eliza asked cheerfully. Since she liked me and I didn't like her back, seeing me unhappy always made her happy.
"Charlie Joe is feeling nervous about his report card," Timmy announced. He was another kid who enjoyed my misery.
"I am not."
Hannah put her hand on my shoulder, probably figuring she could help me forget my troubles and make me feel all warm inside from just the tiniest bit of physical contact. (She was right, but that's beside the point.)
"Oh, Charlie Joe, I'm not worried. You'll probably figure out a way to convince everyone that C's are the new A's. I'm sure your parents will be taking you to Disneyland by the time you get through with them."
Everyone laughed — it was a perfectly okay joke — but for some reason Timmy decided it was unbelievably hilarious, and instead of laughing he snorted apple juice through his nose and all over my fish sticks.
Great. Not only was I going to be nervous the rest of the day, I'd be starving, as well.
Timmy looked at the soggy fish sticks.
"Are you going to eat those?" he asked.
He'd eaten three of them before I could answer.
Charlie Joe's Tip #2
YOU CAN'T GO THROUGH LIFE THINKING YOU'LL GET EXTRA CREDIT JUST FOR DOING NORMAL STUFF.
There's extra credit ... and then there's just regular credit. Getting regular credit for something just means you've avoided getting in trouble. If you want to actually get rewarded, you have to do more than what's expected. That's where the extra part of extra credit comes from.
Here are some things that I used to think would give me extra credit but didn't:
1. Wearing matching socks
2. Turning in homework
3. Not swearing
4. Brushing my teeth
5. Eating salad
As I went to put my tray away after lunch, I saw my unofficial best friend Katie Friedman talking to her friend Nareem Ramdal. They were in the gifted program together. The gifted program was supposedly to help challenge the really smart kids, but I think it might have been more for their parents, who could brag to their friends about it at dinner parties.
"I'm telling you, after Brian Jones died, the Rolling Stones lost some of their weird creativity that they never got back," Katie was saying to Nareem. He nodded, even though it was obvious he had no idea what Katie was talking about.
"Hey, sorry to interrupt," I interrupted.
Katie looked at me. "Charlie Joe, what's your favorite Rolling Stones song?"
"Um, I'm more of a Beatles guy. But I guess 'Satisfaction.'"
She shook her head. "What a cliché."
I pulled Katie over to the vending machine, which used to have candy and soda but now had vegetable snacks and tomato juice.
Katie was a little annoyed — she didn't like being interrupted when she was talking about classic rock. "What's up?"
"It's Report Card Day."
"Why do you insist on calling it Report Card Day? Nobody does that but you." Her phone beeped — incoming! — but she ignored it. "Are your grades going to be mediocre as usual?"
I wasn't exactly sure what mediocre meant, but I nodded. "Would I be talking to you if they weren't? I need to know what to say to my parents."
"Listen, Charlie Joe," Katie began, but her phone beeped again. It was clear she'd rather be texting her friends than talking to me about my bad study habits. "I can't really help you with this one. You're a really smart kid, but you hate to read and you hate to study. Your homework is always late and always lazy. And even in the easy classes, you find a way to get on the teachers' nerves all the time. So what do you expect? I'm not sure why four days out of the year you suddenly get all guilty and upset about it. It's who you are."
I thought about that for a second. "So what you're saying is I should tell my parents that they should just love me for who I am, lousy grades and all?"
Katie bought herself a bag of carrot sticks, which are like potato chips without the goodness.
"I think it's a good place to start," she said, chomping away like a very intelligent rabbit. "Where you finish is up to you."
I brought Pete Milano home with me after school because he was the one kid who could be counted on to make my report card look good. Pete had somehow figured out how to fail music, which takes talent.
"Dude, I will totally come with you," Pete said, when I invited him over. "The last place I want to be right now is at my house. My mom is going to be super ripping mad at me." Then he cracked up.
There wasn't all that much to admire about Pete Milano, but I had to admit, the way he didn't care about getting in trouble with his parents was pretty impressive.
When we got to my house, my two dogs, Moose and Coco, greeted me in the usual way — like I was a returning war hero. They don't care about C minuses. Which is one of the zillion things I love about them.
I noticed my mom's car in the driveway. She's a stay-at-home mom, so nothing unusual about that.
But then I noticed my dad's car in the driveway.
A lot unusual about that.
"Your dad's home," Pete announced.
"Yeah, I see that."
Dad being home wasn't part of the plan. The plan was to go inside, listen to my mom complain about my report card, and then tell her that I loved her so much, wanted to make her happy, and would totally do better next time. In other words, I would take advantage of her incredibly nice personality. Then later, she could help make Dad a little less mad.
Pete and I went inside, and there he was, sitting at the kitchen table.
"Dad!" I said, trying to sound completely thrilled to see him. "What are you doing here?"
"I had a meeting twenty minutes away, so I decided to work from home this afternoon."
Just my luck.
"Pete's here," I said, suddenly regretting my decision to bring home another kid who was famous for bad grades.
My mom came into the room, carrying a huge thing of laundry. (She once told me that she made a point to do housework when my dad was home, to remind him that he wasn't the only one who worked hard.)
"Hi boys!" she said as cheerfully as possible. Whenever things were tense in the house, Mom tried to be extra happy. "Can I get you a snack?"
"Pete, you should probably call your mom to come pick you up," my dad said.
"Oh, Jim, one snack," insisted my mom. Yay for moms.
"You don't have to make us anything, we'll just have cereal," I said, trying to score some brownie points. I looked at my dad to see if he was paying attention. "Then we're going to go play Ping-Pong."
"No Ping-Pong," my dad said. He got up from the table and stretched, like one of those lions you see on the nature channel, who's just waking up before going to kill a defenseless baby gazelle.
In case you were wondering, I was the baby gazelle.
Dad was holding a piece of paper in his hand, which he dropped in front of me. "Take a look."
No thanks, I'd rather not.
Charlie Joe's Tip #3
GRADES ARE OVERRATED.
It's nice to try to get extra credit to improve your grades, but it's not the end of the world if you can't pull it off. Because grades are totally overrated.
It's true. Studies have shown that there is no connection between a good middle school report card and success in later life.
Okay, we can move on now.
SOCIAL STUDIES: A
I tried to look on the bright side.
"Check out that Social Studies grade. And Spanish is up from last quarter."
My dad shook his head. "Charlie Joe, this is NO GOOD." (The capital letters mean he said it loud enough to make the dogs go into another room.)
"What I don't get is why you don't at least get A's in the easy classes," my mom added. "In my day, you could always count on things like music and art to get your grade point average up."
I tried to smile at my mom, who had been an average student just like me. "Yeah, well they're a lot harder now."
"I highly doubt that," said my dad, who had never been an average student in his life. "You don't read. You barely do your homework. And you don't respect the teachers. It's got to stop."
I glanced at Pete, who seemed confused. He was probably wondering why he'd avoided getting in trouble at his own house just to see me get in trouble in mine.
"Dad, I can explain," I began, but it turned out he wasn't all that interested in my explanation.
"I think it's time to have a meeting with your guidance counselor."
But before I could actually say "Wait, what?" my mom jumped in.
"We just think it would be a good idea to meet with Ms. Ferrell."
Ms. Ferrell used to be my English teacher. Right after I was in her class, she gave up teaching and decided to become a guidance counselor. Draw your own conclusions.
"We just want to figure out a way to get those grades up a bit," my mom continued.
"More than a bit," my dad corrected.
My mom smiled at me. "You're so smart, Charlie Joe." This was the part where she felt guilty and needed to compliment me. "You have so much going for you. It shouldn't be that difficult for you to apply yourself just a bit more in school. Your grades would shoot up!"
Pete decided he needed to say something. "Hey, Mrs. Jackson, could I get that snack now?"
"Absolutely." As she started making him some mac-n-cheese, I remembered what Katie had said. It was worth a shot.
"You know what? I think my grades are fine. They might not be all A's, they might not even be all A's and B's, but they're not that bad. And I have news for you guys. There are plenty of people in the world who are rich and successful who didn't have amazing grades in middle school. It just takes people like us more time to mature, that's all."
I marched to the cabinet and got myself a bowl of cereal. "And if you love me for who I am, you'll just have to respect me, grades and all."
My parents didn't say anything, as Pete and I dug into our respective meals. After a minute or two it felt safe enough to change the subject. "I got some new paddles," I said to Pete. "Best two out of three?"
"You're on," Pete said, holding a noodle in his mouth for Moose to grab. They were best buds. I think Moose thought Pete was another dog.
After we finished our snacks, I made a big point of rinsing out our bowls and putting them in the dishwasher. My mom went to put away the cereal. "Let me do that," I said, taking the box. Every little bit helps, right?
"We've already called Ms. Ferrell," my dad said. "The meeting's tomorrow at seven-thirty, before I go into the city."
I looked at my mom, who smiled sadly.
I shrugged. "Fine. Whatever."
Pete and I went to play Ping-Pong, but my heart wasn't in it. He beat me three straight.
I've always liked Ms. Ferrell, and I'm pretty sure she always liked me, but that didn't mean we always saw eye to eye on things.
Life, for example. We definitely didn't see eye to eye on life.
She saw life as a constant opportunity to learn, and to be amazed by literature, culture, society, and all sorts of things that make the world special.
Whereas I saw life as something to enjoy, without being distracted by annoying things like reading and writing and working.
But like I said, we really got along pretty well. I guess deep down I knew she had my best interests at heart.
Which made it pretty unusual that I was having bad thoughts about her.
To be specific, I spent the whole night imagining that she would have to cancel the meeting because she was suddenly stricken with a terrible case of gastrointestinal distress.
You know. Diarrhea.
The conference didn't start off all that bad. Ms. Ferrell told my parents how smart she thought I was, and how funny, and how they should be proud of my winning personality.
"He's a true original," was how she put it.
"Harrumph," harrumphed my dad, who didn't seem all that impressed.
"Well, we do think he's a funny, great kid," said my mom, looking on the bright side as usual. "But he needs to find a way to know when to be funny and when to be serious."
"There's plenty of time to be serious," I argued. "I have my whole adult life to be serious."
"Charlie Joe, enough!"
That was Dad. He had a pretty hot temper sometimes.
"Jim," my mom said to him quietly.
He took a deep breath. "All I'm saying is, enough is enough. Ever since you got into middle school your grades have been getting worse and worse. It's time to buckle down. It would be bad parenting if we just sat here while you threw your talents away."
Before I could decide if I wanted to argue or not, Ms. Ferrell reached into her desk and pulled out some sort of pamphlet.
"I do have an idea that you might want to consider."
I glanced nervously at the pamphlet. I was pretty sure it wasn't exactly an invitation to video game school.
My dad took a look at the front. "Camp Rituhbukkee," he said, smiling. "Am I pronouncing that correctly?"
Ms. Ferrell nodded. "Indeed."
I gagged. "Camp Read-A-Bookie? Are you serious?"
"It's a wonderful summer camp," Ms. Ferrell said. "With equal emphasis on sports and academics."
My dad thumbed through the brochure. "Looks interesting."
Excerpted from Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit by Tommy Greenwald, J.P. Coovert. Copyright © 2012 Tommy Greenwald. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
“No middle schooler wants to face a month at summer enrichment camp, but many will enjoy watching Charlie Joe work harder than he has ever worked before to avoid it…even if he fails.”Kirkus
“Sure to appeal to reluctant readers who will identify with Charlie Joe’s knack for avoiding reading and schoolwork, this title would also make a fabulous read-aloud. Luckily for fans of Charlie Joe, another installment in this unlikely hero’s life is forthcoming.” – School Library Journal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Charlie Joe Jackson, slacker of all slackers, will do just about anything to get out of going to a summer camp where READING is required. So when his parents agree that getting all As (and maybe one B) will relieve him of that chore, Charlie Joe enlists his friends to help get his grades up. Buttering up his middle school teachers for extra credit doesn't go quite as planned. Hilarity ensues as our hero must pose in a ridiculous outfit (which of course is seen by other students) while his art teacher paints him; what will Zoe, the new girl of Charlie's dreams, think of him now? Great for reluctant readers ages 9-14.
I can only get a sample which is 33 pages but so far it great!
So far this book is hilarious
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit is a enjoyable book? Don't believe me? Well the reasons why I love this book is because it was written in kid's point of view. Just like us. As the point of view indicates how children actually feels it feels like you're reading yourself. This book is really humerus as well, due to the drama and act of a 8th grader. Charlie Joe Jackson. You may think it's all fun and games, when the fun is over when Charlie receives his report card. Just like any other children he is overwhelm about what he has gotten. His parents gave him another chance, if he fails he will have to go to summer camp where reading is all they do! He is trying anything to get out of going to camp as he studies hard and earn his grade. But the real problem comes from his Theater class, his worst subject. Will he get all A's before his parents send him to Summer School? Well, read the book. Absolutely recommended for anyone! -Alan.Y (411)
Cheese is good and so is this book GWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!
Kisd your hand post this on three other books and look under your pillow
I just finshed the book ad it was great it was funny and romanice and totching i'm going to be reading the next one Charlie Joe Jacksons guide to Summer vacation
Pretty good series
I bet the best book was number too because of the ideas they have it is really great book though if you read it you might learn something for his guide books that are cool
Too bad Nooks? don't sell evrything for free