*Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything. It’s not absolutely essential that you read the first book before this one, but it would definitely help. Also, the first book is made of awesome, so you need to read it anyway.*
If there is a perfect summer read for kids who just finished the fifth grade, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley, might just be it. As a matter of fact, this is an excellent summer read for kids of all ages, especially those of us who have ever been to summer camp! (It made me fondly recall my own summers at Camp Marietta.) Everything that made Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything a great read also holds true for this sequel. Cheesie’s voice is delightful and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I know my students will love this book as much as they are currently eating up the first one (which is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award).
In Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, readers follow Cheesie, his best friend Georgie, and a whole cast of characters to Camp Windward (for boys) and Camp Leeward (for girls) in Maine. (Events in this book pick up right where they left off in the first book. It’s the summer after fifth grade graduation.) Cheesie is sure that this will be the best summer ever because he and Georgie will be the oldest of the Little Guys at camp. Unfortunately, thanks to events that occurred in the first book, things don’t quite work out the way Cheesie had hoped. Now, Cheesie and Georgie are the youngest in the Big Guys group at camp. (Not a big deal if you’re already kind of big like Georgie, but it’s bad news if you’re already a little guy like Cheesie.) This presents a whole new set of problems, and the biggest one is probably Kevin Welch, his sister Goon’s boyfriend.
Camp Windward is not off to a stellar start, but Cheesie comes up with a way that might help him to make the best of things. He challenges Kevin to a Cool Duel. Whoever is voted the coolest in their cabin at the end of a week is the coolest guy at camp! Kevin gets out to an early lead, but Cheesie isn’t a quick-witted kid for nothing. He comes up with a couple of things that are sure to earn him some votes. But will he get enough votes to win the Cool Duel? You should definitely read this book to find out!
Even though the Cool Duel is a big part of this book (hence the title), there’s also a lot of other stuff going on: a dance with the girls from Camp Leeward, sneaking into the computer lab, snakes, a talent show, and the most epic scary story in the known universe. Cheesie also introduces readers to exciting new words (only a few of which are made up) and questions to ponder. Cheesie’s website, http://cheesiemack.com/, also plays a big part in this book. This wonderful site makes this book, like its predecessor, truly interactive.
All in all, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the perfect follow-up to the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Cheesie gets up to next! (FYI, the third book, Cheesie Mack Is Running Like Crazy!, will be out in June of 2013. I can’t believe I have to wait that long! Ugh!!!) I’m working on organizing an author visit with Steve Cotler to Greenville County (South Carolina) elementary schools in February. I’m so looking forward to having discussions with my students and the author about both of the wonderful Cheesie Mack books and, hopefully, what we can expect in the third!