What is it:
Charlie Bumpers is a series of chapter books about a 4th grader and his problems at school.
There are audiobook versions of the stories, read by the author, that are fun to listen to in the car.
BOOK 1 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year
BOOK 2 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome
BOOK 3 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull
BOOK 4 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey
BOOK 5 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates
BOOK 6 Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth
BOOK 7 Charlie Bumpers vs. the End of the Year
Who is it for:
Ages 7 to 10 is probably about right. Kids younger than 4th grade may be interested but probably can’t focus on books with only scattered pictures. And older kids will no longer be able to relate to the problems of a 4th grader.
The audiobook versions of the books are more accessible to slightly younger kids.
What Kids Like:
The stories are funny and engaging, and they feel authentic. So much of media aimed at kids is a] heavily sanitized, and/or b] a representation of adults’ unrealistic and idealized vision of childhood. But not many depict issues such as bullying, or antagonism with teachers and parents and other kids in a realistic, but also fun way.
What Parents Like:
Again, the stories are funny. My first exposure was hearing an excerpt from one of the audiobooks and it reminded me of the scene from “Stand by Me” when the kid throws up at the pie eating contest. I also like the stories balance of wholesomeness with reality.
The books cover important themes, including Friendship, Following rules, Overcoming fears, Learning lessons, Kindness, Making good choices
(this list is from the publisher’s teacher’s guide)
What the Critics Think:
Goodreads gives the books an average of 4.0 out of 5
Some of the books have won awards. The first one got:
2013 Parents Choice Award (Fall) (2008-Up) — Fiction (Recommended)
2014 Delaware Diamonds Award — Grades 3-5 (Nominee)
2015 Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award — Grades 4-6 (Nominee)
2015 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award — Children’s Book (Nominee)
2015 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award — Grades 3-6 (Nominee)
2015 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award — Grades 3-6 (Nominee)
2015 South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award — Children’s (Nominee)
2016 Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award — Intermediate (Nominee)
2016 Golden Sower Award — Intermediate (Nominee)
2016 Sequoyah Book Award — Children’s (Nominee)
2016 Virginia Readers Choice Award — Elementary (Nominee)
Who Made it / History:
Bill Harley is a performer who travels to schools, singing, telling stories and entertaining.
More of Adam Gustavson’s art can be found on his website
Where Can I Get it:
The books are easy to find, although the publisher, Peachtree doesn’t have the same reach as Scholastic, so you won’t find these books at school book fairs.
Peachtree has excerpts of the books as well as little videos that give a sense of the mood and tone of the stories.