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Great Illustrated Books

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading

By Tommy Greenwald

Roaring Brook Press, 2011
Pages : 224
Suggested Ages: 8-12
ISBN: 9781596436916

Tommy Greenwald’s new book Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to NOT Reading is a perfect book for the non-reader or reluctant reader in your life. Charlie Joe has made it all the way to Middle School without ever, EVER, reading a book cover to cover. It hasn’t been easy, but he came up with an arrangement that has carried him this far successfully: his friend Timmy reads the books and tells Charlie what they’re about in exchange for snacks from the school cafeteria. But now, his teachers have discovered what he’s been up to. Will Charlie Joe be able to keep up his no-reading track record?

With his final assignment looming and his English grade for the entire year on the line, Charlie Joe has to think quickly. He decides to write his Position Paper on school cliques and to do what he calls a “social experiment:” he sets up Hannah and Jake, a girl and a boy from different circles. Hannah agrees to go along with the plan since she thinks it’s a pretty cool experiment, and Jake is overjoyed at the idea of going out with possibly the most popular girl at school. And conveniently, since Jake now owes Charlie Joe a favor for putting him in a new social orbit, Jake agrees to be Charlie Joe’s new book reader. Nothing could possibly go wrong!

In this hilarious book, Charlie Joe speaks directly to you, the reader, and as he relates his own story, he shares tips and tactics to help you avoid reading at all costs.  Middle School boys (and girls!) will appreciate the references to modern tween pop-culture, such as facebook, texting, and X-Box, among others. “Exclusive Non-Reading Tips” are sprinkled throughout, offering advice like “IF YOU HAVE TO READ A BOOK, MAKE SURE IT HAS SHORT CHAPTERS” and “NOT ALL BOOKS ARE BAD (exceptions: comic books, yearbooks, checkbooks, Facebook).” Along with these interspersed lists of tips, short chapters and simple illustrations help keep the book moving at a quick pace.

The surprise ending brings the story full circle, and readers who picked up what they thought would be a guide to NOT reading will discover that they have, in fact, just finished (and enjoyed!) an entire book. Laugh-out-loud funny, clever, and relevant, I believe Tommy Greenwald has written a book that will appeal to kids of all reading tastes. After all, I love books more than anything, and even I appreciated the fun and humor of Charlie Joe’s tale!

Meet Charlie Joe Jackson Up Close in This Interview with the Reluctant Reader!

Reviewed by : KSD

Themes : BOOKS AND READING. FRIENDSHIP. TEACHERS. HUMOR. MIDDLE SCHOOL.

If you love this book, then try:

Clements, Andrew and Mark Elliott. No Talking. Simon and Schuster Children, 2007.


Patterson, James and Chris Tebbetts. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Little, Brown and Company, 2011.


Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007.


Vail, Rachel and Matthew Cordell. Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters. Feiwel & Friends, 2010.

Critics have said

"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

"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