A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Young readers will get a feel for fourth-grade classroom curriculum and culture. They'll also learn a little bit of geography and a few Spanish words.
Kids will see that even strict teachers can be very caring, and being kind is just as important as being "good."
Positive Role Models
Mrs. Burke seems ultra-strict and harsh at first, but Charlie learns that she sees his good qualities; she shows children that kindness and understanding are just as important as rules. Charlie makes a lot of mistakes, but he sets an empathetic example for other kids.
Violence & Scariness
When two boys roughhouse in the school hallway, a flying object accidentally hits a teacher. Charlie and his friend Tommy talk about a bigger boy who scares them because they know he gives wedgies.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year is the first in a new series by Bill Harley. The story's narrated by Charlie, a fourth-grader who gets himself into frequent messes -- literal and figurative. This means Charlie's often on the wrong side of school rules, but he's a kind boy, and his heart's almost always in the right place. Kids may gasp or slap their foreheads -- or even learn a bit of silly behavior -- when Charlie makes mistakes, and they might share his fear of strict teachers and boys who give wedgies. Only a few coarse or insulting words ("shut up," "idiot," "bozo," "boogers") appear.
Is It Any Good?
Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year is an engaging school story in which kids face kid-sized problems like strict teachers and playground disputes. Charlie's poor judgment often results in sitcom-type humor, but he's such a kindhearted kid -- in a believable way, not a too-sweet way -- that readers care about him and share his empathy for others. One aspect that rings slightly false is Charlie's age; his behavior, level of understanding, and adults' expectations for him seem more appropriate for a child of 10 rather than 8. However, it's still a funny, sweet, entertaining book that will teach kids the value of kindness and inclusiveness.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.