Charlie Joe's weekly allowance just isn't cutting it and he desperately needs money to buy a Botman, the latest gadget to sweep his middle school. Only catch is, he wants to earn the money by doing the least amount of work possible. After several failed attempts, including a near disastrous day of dog-walking, Charlie Joe hatches a plan to throw his own bar mitzvah (no gifts pleasechecks only) even though he's not Jewish. Hilarity ensues when throwing a fake coming-of-age party turns out to be much harder than it looks.
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money by Tommy Greenwald is laugh out loud funny, and full of amusing illustrations that fit perfectly with the story.
About the Author
Tommy Greenwald has enjoyed reading all his life, which is why he's appalled that his kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, would prefer getting a dental check-up to checking out a book. After years of pleading, threatening, and bribing, Tommy finally decided the only way to get his kids to read was to write a book about how to get out of reading. The result was Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading. And they read it! (So they say.) The Executive Creative Director at SPOTCO, an entertainment advertising agency in New York City, Tommy lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cathy; his non-reading sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his dogs, Moose and Coco.
Read an Excerpt
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money
By Tommy Greenwald, J. P. Coovert
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2014 Tommy Greenwald
All rights reserved.
First, a little background.
I discovered the joy of money when I was little, and my parents gave me and my older sister, Megan, an allowance. Like a dollar a week — nothing major, but enough for candy, or soda, or the occasional slice of pizza when Megan would take me downtown.
In return, we were expected to do one thing: stay alive.
But then, when we started getting a little bit older, my parents — especially my mom — expected more for their money. It was small stuff, for sure: Brush my teeth for a full minute, put my clothes away (by balling them up and stuffing them in a drawer, but Mom didn't have to know that), feed the dogs — that kind of thing.
Megan — whose only imperfection was that she was perfect — handled the new responsibilities without complaining at all.
I, on the other hand, wanted a raise. I think I was about seven years old when I finally got brave enough to bring it up.
"Mom," I said one day while pretending to fold a pair of socks, "can we start getting five dollars a week? Look at all this stuff we're doing now."
She looked at me. "What are you going to do with five dollars a week?"
"There's lots of things I could do with five dollars," I said. "Like take you and Dad out to dinner, for example. I would totally do that."
Pretty quick thinking for seven, huh?
Mom laughed, then took the socks from my hand and opened the drawer to put them in.
"Wait!" I shouted, but it was too late. She stared down in horror at the war zone of wrinkled clothes.
"Be glad I don't fire you," she said.CHAPTER 2
Fast-forward about five years, to middle school, which is the age when you first realize it's not fun if some kids have the latest cool thing and you don't.
It was the first day back, after summer vacation. Which is a really weird day, as we all know. Everyone was busy checking each other out, like, "What were you up to?" "Did you have a better summer than me? That would really make me mad if you did."
Even the teachers were checking each other out, mostly for new hairstyles. (Which I don't support, by the way. I think teachers should always have to look the same forever.)
Anyway, like I said it was the first day back, and our story begins pretty much where everything in life begins: the school cafeteria.
We were smack in the middle of lunch, and, as usual, Eliza Collins was the center of attention. (It's not just that she was really pretty, but she was also really rich. In other words, she was really lucky. She must have been like a saint or a seeing-eye dog in a former life.)
She was showing everyone her amazingly amazing new device: a battery-operated robot that looked like a one-foot-tall tiny metal person.
"It's called the Botman," Eliza announced, as the little guy walked around in circles, making a loud beeping sound. A bunch of us gathered around, trying to decide if we were awed, annoyed, or both. "And check this out — this is the coolest part."
She pushed a button, and Botman said, "Yo, Eliza, it's Wednesday! That means tennis lesson at four, manicure at five-thirty." Everybody ooh-ed and aah-ed, including me.
She pushed another button, and Botman said, "Yo, Eliza, dress light today! Forecast calls for mild temps, with a high of eighty-two degrees."
Everybody wow-ed and cool-ed, including me.
Then Eliza picked up her chocolate milk carton and placed it in Botman's outstretched little arms, and he motored over to the garbage can and threw it in — swish.
"Thank you, Botman," said Eliza.
"No problem, yo," replied Botman.
The crowd went crazy, and that was the exact moment I decided I had to have one.
Eliza was just about to push another button on Botman when a voice suddenly rang out from the back of the crowd.
"We get it."
Everyone turned around. There was Katie Friedman, rolling her eyes at no one in particular.
This was nothing unusual, of course. Katie's a professional eye-roller. It's one of the things I love most about her.
"You get what?" Eliza demanded.
We all waited.
"We get that you're always the first person with a cool new gadget thingie that most of the rest of us will never even get to touch, much less own," Katie said. That pretty much summed up what everyone was feeling, even though we were all too busy being impressed to even realize it.
Then she added, "Yo."
The crowd roared happily; nobody minded the richest and prettiest girl in the grade getting embarrassed every once in a while. Eliza blushed, the bell rang, and we headed to our next class. I looked at Katie and remembered an important lesson: It didn't matter how rich you were, there were some things that money couldn't buy.
And hearing a bunch of kids laugh at something you said was totally priceless.CHAPTER 3
"That Botman thingie is pretty cool," I said to my friend Timmy McGibney, as we filed into Spanish.
"Yeah," Timmy said, not looking me in the eye.
I immediately got suspicious.
Timmy and I have had our ups and downs. We've been friends for so long that sometimes it felt more like we were brothers, which meant that we fought and got mad at each other and got on each other's nerves just as much as real brothers did.
And, like typical brothers, we could get pretty jealous of each other's stuff.
Plus, I knew his birthday was coming up.
"You're not getting the Botman, are you?" I asked.
Timmy looked at me and smiled. "Maybe."
I was just about to bombard him with questions when a sharp clapping sound changed the subject.
"Ya basta!" shouted our Spanish teacher, Señora Glickstein. (The other Spanish teacher was named Señor O'Brien. Go figure.)
"We'll talk about this later," I whispered to Timmy, as we opened our books and tried to care about the difference between ser and estar.CHAPTER 4
If good parenting means not spoiling your kids and not buying them a lot of things, then my parents are the best parents in the world.
Which is fine; I'm not one of these kids who cares about having things like pool tables and Ping-Pong tables and go-carts and refrigerators full of soda and an arcade in my basement with tons of different video game systems.
As long as my friends have them, and I can use theirs.
That day after school, I was at my friend Jake Katz's house, and we were jumping on his trampoline — another thing I don't have — and talking about the Botman.
"Katie's takedown of Eliza was awesome," Jake said, while alternating landings on his feet and his butt.
"Yeah," I said, "but the Botman was pretty cool."
Jake made a face. "Ugh. Another gadget. Enough already."
"What do you mean?" I asked. Jake was considered one of the smartest kids in the school, and I figured it was always good to know where he stood on things.
He thought for a second. (It was hard to look thoughtful while jumping up and down, but somehow Jake pulled it off.)
"I just think this whole technological revolution thing has gotten out of control," Jake said, somehow managing to prevent his glasses from flying off his head. "We've become slaves to our devices. You should see my mom. She texts me twenty times a day. And the minute my dad gets home from work, he's on his cell phone or his computer all night, reading the news or staring at his e-mails. When we ask him a question, it takes him ten minutes just to hear it."
It was true. Jake's dad was definitely one of those workaholic, distracted genius types who didn't say much. My theory had always been that he was just tuning out Jake's mom, because she talks nonstop.
But maybe Jake was right. Maybe the world had become too dependent on technology.
I continued to bounce, thinking about what Jake said, and then I thought about Timmy's birthday again. Suddenly I had this vision of Eliza and Timmy comparing Botmans in the school cafeteria, while I sat there staring at my soggy fish sticks.
Which is when I realized that I wanted to be just as dependent on technology as everybody else.
"Let's go jump in the pool," I said, hoping a change of scenery would do me good.
"Okay," Jake said, agreeable as always.
As we jumped in, I decided that it was easy for Jake to be all high and mighty about how we've all become slaves to our possessions. He was the one with a trampoline and a pool.
I was mad at him for a split second. But then my body hit the perfectly heated, eighty-degree water, and I realized that pools and jealousy don't mix.CHAPTER 5
I brought up the idea of getting a Botman at dinner that night.
"I think it will help me do better in school," was my argument. (What? You wanted me to go with "Whatever the other kids have, I want"?)
My dad laughed. "How so?" he asked. "Will it invent excuses for why you didn't do your homework? Will it actually read the books for you?"
I have a bit of an issue with reading, in case you haven't heard. Not a big fan.
"It will help me get organized," I insisted. "It will tell me what assignments I have to do, and what tests I have coming up, and remind me to study, stuff like that."
My mom is a kind, patient person who always tries to give me the benefit of the doubt, but this was a stretch, even for her. She smiled, but shook her head. "You already have a cell phone, Charlie Joe. We just can't justify buying you an expensive new thingamajig right now."
I wanted to say, But Eliza has one, and Timmy is about to get one! But that didn't seem like an argument I could win. So instead I said, "Soon everybody will have one except me," which I have to admit sounded a little lame.
Dad shook his head. "Just the fact that you have a cell phone at your age is hard to take. In my day you were lucky if you were allowed to use the phone at all." Dad was a big in-my-day guy. If you believed everything he said about how hard things were in his day, you would be amazed that he lived long enough to tell us about it.
"Fine," I mumbled, admitting defeat. And then, right on cue, my phone buzzed.
Guess what I got?
There was only one response to that, which I typed immediately.
I waited. My phone buzzed. I read the text.
I'll give you a hint — It rhymes with shmotman.
Charlie Joe's Financial Tip #1
NEVER DO SOMETHING YOURSELF IF YOU CAN GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT.
Americans take great pride in getting someone else to do their work for them, and it's a sign you've made it to the top when you're able to do it. Whether it's a factory boss, an army general, or a football coach, everyone knows that the best way to get ahead is to figure out how to get everyone else to work while you sit back and get the glory.
I believe deeply in that philosophy, and I follow it every chance I get.
In fact, I'm following it with this book, which is why Katie Friedman is going to write the next chapter.
I'll be playing with the dogs, if anyone needs me.CHAPTER 6
Hi, my name is Katie Friedman.
My friend Charlie Joe Jackson asked me to write a chapter for his new book and, since I wasn't doing anything else particularly fascinating today, I said sure.
Charlie Joe said he wanted me to do it because he thought a female perspective would be interesting and that he values my insights and keenly intelligent mind.
Give me a break. He's not fooling anybody.
You and I both know there's only one reason he asked me to write a chapter for his book.
He's the laziest person on earth.
But even though he's lazy, and even though he's obnoxious, and even though he drives me crazy on a regular basis, I still find myself wanting to make him happy.
It's trying to figure out weird things like that that make me want to become a therapist someday.
* * *
So I was just finishing a rehearsal with my band CHICKMATE (kind of an emo-rock-blues thing) when Charlie Joe texted me all in a panic, because Eliza had a Botman, and Timmy just got a Botman, too, and Charlie Joe's parents refused to buy him one.
If you want to talk to me, call me, I texted back. I'm kind of over texts. Texts are like those notes you pass back and forth to each other in second grade when the teacher's not looking. I mean, come on people, grow up.
Anyway, two seconds later my phone rang. Guess who?
"See, Charlie Joe?" I said. "I don't have a fancy-schmancy little robot helper, but when you call me, I still somehow manage to answer the phone! It's a miracle!" "I'm not in the mood," Charlie Joe answered. "I need your advice."
"My advice comes laced with comedy," I said, which made my bandmates laugh.
"Where are you?" he asked.
"Just had rehearsal. You're coming to Jake's bar mitzvah on Friday, right?"
(It's true, Jake actually hired us to play at his bar mitzvah! Well, technically his dad hired us, probably because he went to college with my dad. Anyway, it was going to be our first ever gig, and I was thrilled! And petrified.)
"We'll see," Charlie Joe said, even though he was obviously going, since Jake is one of his best friends.
"Well, you better think we're awesome, or I'll never give you advice again," I said, and I meant it. Don't mess with me and my music.
"Fine." Then Charlie Joe sighed into the phone, which meant we were through talking about something other than him. "I need a job," he said.
Now, you have to have known this kid for as long as I have to truly appreciate the hilarious nature of that statement.
"I'm sorry, who are you and what have you done with Charlie Joe Jackson?"
"I'm serious. I need to find a job where I can make some money."
Slowly, the momentousness of the occasion began to dawn on me. The most infamous slacker in our entire middle school, the kid who would rather write a book than read a book, the kid who would rather dress up in a ridiculous costume than pay attention in class ... that kid actually wants a JOB?!
I whistled into the phone. "Meet me downtown in twenty minutes."
* * *
Twenty-two minutes later, we were sitting on a bench outside Jookie's, which is the local youth club where kids go to pretend that parents don't exist. Sometimes Jookie's has concerts where high school bands play, so I took a quick look inside and imagined myself up on that stage, singing one of my original songs (even though I haven't actually written one yet), with the crowd waving their arms in the air, chanting, "CHICKMATE! CHICKMATE! CHICKMATE!"
Oh, wait, sorry. This is Charlie Joe's book, not mine, right?
Anyway, we're sitting there, and Charlie Joe looked sadder than a dog who's just finished his dinner. Which is an appropriate metaphor, since he brought along his two big lab mixes, Moose and Coco. They were pulling on their leashes so enthusiastically it looked like they were going to yank Charlie Joe's arms right out of their sockets.
"Do these guys go everywhere with you?" I asked.
"Everywhere they're allowed," Charlie Joe said, "and some places they're not."
"So tell me, exactly what line of work are you looking to get into?" I tried to imagine Charlie Joe in a work environment. It wasn't easy.
"It's not work I'm looking for," he answered. "It's money."
I stared at him. "Really? I had no idea. That is truly shocking."
Suddenly, Charlie Joe went flying, courtesy of Moose and Coco, who had spotted a squirrel and decided to give chase. The squirrel got away, but the dogs didn't seem to mind.
I ran up to the dogs and petted their awesomely soft coats. "Have they ever caught one?"
"Nah," Charlie Joe said. "But they never lose hope. I don't think they remember that their batting average is zero." He scratched their ears. "Isn't that right, you big dummies?"
Moose answered by jumping up and swiping his enormous tongue across Charlie Joe's face. Charlie Joe then proceeded to lie down on the ground and act like a dog for five minutes, while the actual dogs jumped on, over, and around him. In public! It was adorable and ridiculous at the same time.
"I didn't come down here to watch you do your best Scooby-Doo imitation," I said.
All three of them looked up at me, panting.
"Sorry," said Charlie Joe. "Where were we? Oh, yeah. I need money. I really want a Botman, and my parents won't buy it for me. So I'm looking for a job where I can make a lot of money pretty fast, like two hundred bucks, but won't be hard or take a lot of work."
Isn't he adorable?
"I'll put my best people on it," I said. Then the four of us walked down to the river, where the dogs chased some ducks. Ducks can fly, though, and dogs can't, so it wasn't exactly a fair fight.
We were sitting by the river, watching the dogs wish they could fly, when the idea suddenly hit me.
"I've got it," I said to Charlie Joe.
"You've got what?"
"A way you can make money that you might actually enjoy."
Charlie Joe jumped up. "I could kiss you!"
"I don't think Nareem would appreciate that," I said quickly. Nareem Ramdal is my boyfriend, BTW. He's awesome.
"Duh. I was kidding," Charlie Joe said.
Charlie Joe sat back down. "Now, tell me how I'm gonna get rich," he said.
So I told him.
* * *
Okay, I'm going to give you back to Charlie Joe now.
Excerpted from Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money by Tommy Greenwald, J. P. Coovert. Copyright © 2014 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.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Dog and the Gopher,
Part Two: The Shirt and the Tie,
Part Three: The Bar and the Mitzvah,
Part Four: The Boy and the Cow,
Part Five: The Uh and the Oh,
Also by Tommy Greenwald,
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