Friday, July 12, 2013


The last book in the CJJ series is out now!

There are stories that personify “series” with just the mere pronunciation of their titles: The Matrix. Lord of the Rings. Star Wars. The Hunger Games…

…Charlie Joe Jackson!

Yes, I said it. My man Tommy Greenwald continues Charlie Joe Jackson’s ever-evolving story in the third installment of the series, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO SUMMER VACATION. And having read and reviewed the first two, I’d say this one is my favorite of the bunch. Charlie Joe has given us his guide to NOT reading (book 1), his guide to extra credit (book 2), and now we are lucky to have his guide to summer vacation. All three of the books are hilarious and kid-friendly, but at the same time trick the young reader into…er…reading! I always loved how the original intention of the first book was to, obviously, hook reluctant readers by making them hopeful they’d find ways to avoid reading by picking up the book, but then trick them into reading. And enjoying it, most likely. Nice thinking, Greenwald, you trickster. CJJ would hate you for that, though.

Back when the first book came out, I snapped a pic of it on the shelves.
Now with this third book, CJJ is being shipped off to an academic summer camp called Camp Rituhbukkee (slyly pronounced “Read-a-Bookie”). So the non-nerdy CJJ is surrounded by a nerd-herd-and-then-some, which would lead one to wonder, hmm, maybe the mass nerdiness will rub off on CJJ. But, in his uniquely mischievous manner, CJJ contrarily thinks of something else: maybe his non-nerdiness can rub off on them?! Therein lies the crux of the third book: for CJJ to try to change the culture of Camp Rituhbukkee by helping the kids see that reading and learning just ain’t cool. But again, Greenwald applies the same reverse psychology as the story unfolds and the rubbing goes both ways (which sounds inappropriate, but you get the gist) and both sides learn quite a bit about the balance between work and play. Interspersed with cool comic drawings by J.P. Coovert (who illustrated the other CJJ books as well), and including letters written to/from CJJ to/from various people “back home” (characters from the first two books who readers will remember), this is a win-on-all-levels book.

Some of you may remember my son digging into the second book about a year ago.
If you have a reluctant reader in your life, or any kid, in fact, hand all three of the CJJ books off to him or her. Pretty sure the kid will thank you. My son did (see above).

Oh, and if you're all upset that the CJJ journey is over, I just got word from Greenwald himself that there will be at least two more in the CJJ series, not to mention a spin-off based on a character who is in book three, Jack Strong. Nice!


  1. I loved the first one so much. Read it on one short plane ride. I am looking forward to the second and third. Thanks for the review, Mike! Appreciate this.

  2. Yeah, make sure you grab the others, and throw them your students' way as well. Kids dig CJJ.

  3. I read the first one and loved it too! These are so perfect for my son! He loves books like these! Thanks, Mike!!


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