Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cheesie Mack is not a genius or anything by Steve Cotler, illustrated by Adam McCauley

Cheesie Mack is a 5th grader with boundless enthusiasm and interest in the world around him. Right now, the two biggest things on his mind are the mysterious locket and penny his best friend, Georgie, found in his basement and the news that Georgie's dad lost his job so he can't go to camp.

Then there's Cheesie's horrible older sister, the fifth grade graduation, the pizza party, the great mouse plot, Cheesie's grumpy and eccentric grandfather...and the list goes on. It all comes together when Cheesie and Georgie discover the penny is extremely valuable and have to decide whether or not to give it back to the rightful owner or use the money to send Georgie to camp.

This is a serviceable middle grade humor title, although it's more Melonhead than Wimpy Kid. I didn't see the final art or layout since I read this from a galley. However, a couple things really annoyed me in this story.

First, and this is just a personal dislike, the horrible teen older sibling is really overused in my opinion. Of course, I have met lots of kids who don't get along with their siblings, but I have a hard time imagining that parents would just ignore the nasty squabbling these two indulge in, mostly on June's side. Then again, I've seen this in so many books that maybe it's me who has an unrealistic view of family dynamics. The scene where their dad makes June take off her shorts in front of him and Cheesie, even though Cheesie casually assures us that his family doesn't care about stuff like not only sounded fake, it was extremely weird, verging on creepy. Finally, Cheesie's references to his website every couple pages drove me crazy. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. There's three pages of website references at the end. Too much!

Verdict: If you have kids who want a younger middle grade title with humor, this will fit the bill. The things that annoyed me are really more adult quibbles and most kids won't care. It's a funny story and the characters are amusing and fairly realistic, even if the plot is a bit far-fetched. It's not particularly unique or anything though. An additional purchase.

ISBN: 9780375864377; Published March 2011 by Random House; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I love it when someone else feels the same way I do. Cheesie was a bit slap worthy, but I'm so desperate for middle grade funny books, and this one has done fairly well. Bummed that the cover on the third book (out soon) doesn't have the same style.