I few minutes ago, I finished reading yet another nominated title for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. The book is Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley. I could tell just by the title and cover that the book would be humorous, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how funny it actually was, and, even though the book is geared toward students in upper elementary school, there’s definitely a lot in this book that older readers—including lots of adults—will find enjoyable. This book is laugh-out-loud funny and will be an easy sell in most libraries.
Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything basically takes place during the span of just a few days—all of them revolving around Cheesie’s fifth grade graduation. (Cheesie’s real name is Ronald, by the way.) This book is Cheesie’s account of everything that happened in this short—but action-packed—span of time. He recounts events that involve mice, BLART sandwiches (which I may just have to make for myself), old pennies, haunted houses, his best friend Georgie, and his horrible sister Goon (June to everyone else). Peppered throughout the book are interesting facts, words, and side notes that may or may not have anything to do with the story. Cheesie is a character that a lot of kids will relate to, and they may just learn a little along the way.
This book is a great one for any reader who, well, just likes knowing stuff. (I am one of those readers.) Cheesie researches things he doesn’t know a lot about, and he shares what he finds with the reader. Cheesie is very interested in words and their meanings, and he even makes up his own words. (This might be a great book for educators to use when teaching lessons on voice, word choice, and using vibrant language.) There’s even a website that goes with this book, http://cheesiemack.com, that students will enjoy visiting while reading. (I just visited the site myself, and it’s pretty cool. I may even use it as a selling point when I booktalk this with my students.)
Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything is, in my opinion, perfect for readers who enjoy books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dan Gutman’s My Weird School Daze series, Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary series, or Rachel Vail’s Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters. I, for one, plan to push this book to any and all of my students, especially my boys, who are looking for something funny to read.
There is more to come from Cheesie Mack. A second book, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, is due out next month. Hopefully, I’ll have time to read it this summer so that I can share both books with my students when we return in August.