Cheeky Charlie by Mat Waugh
|Cheeky Charlie by Mat Waugh|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Sweet and funny short stories about a naughty-but-nice little boy. Perfect for sharing or for emerging and newly confident readers to snigger at alone.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 110||Date: March 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
My book is about all the naughty things that my brother Charlie has done. Some of it is funny, some of it is a bit sad, and lots of it is disgusting, because that's what Charlie can be. It might even make you be sick, so get ready.
You know what? That's about the size of it. After Harry has introduced herself - she's almost seven years old, she doesn't like her freckles, she's used to people thinking that someone called Harry ought to be a boy, and she has a younger brother, who is three and called Charlie. This is Harry's book about Charlie. Charlie is a cheeky chappie. He never shuts up. He likes to push his luck. And, having pushed his luck once, he likes to push it again. And again. And again. This is much to Harry's exasperation, as she explains by dint of a book full of anecdotes...
Cheeky Charlie is kind of a cross between a chapter book and a collection of short stories. You could happily read any of Harry's anecdotes about her naughty brother in any order you want and lose nothing of the fun. Each is quite self-contained. I read through from beginning to end, though, like a good reviewer.
Firstly, narrator Harry comes through as just a strong character as Charlie. She's a very different person - quite law-abiding in comparison! And she is afflicted by a little bit of sibling jealousy. I can't say as I blame her for that because Charlie's and Harry's parents are very tolerant of Charlie's various pecadilloes, even when they adversely affect people outside the family. I suppose, for the purposes of the book, they have to be. Or Charlie wouldn't be so funny. I confess, though, there was a time or two when the parent in me tsked more at Mum and Dad than Charlie. But that's a minor nitpick. And I imagine many readers would find common cause with Harry's frustration at the lack of draconian punishments - children always think they've had it tough and their siblings have got off lightly, don't they?
But secondly, and most importantly, the main thing is that Charlie's adventures are funny. I think my favourite scene was in the hospital, when Charlie finds a comrade-in-arms in one of the geriatric patients and they've hijacked the telly in the ward day lounge. Charlie's escapades are all cleverly paced, so readers can guess ahead what's going to happen but not so perfectly that the pay-offs are spoiled. There's a good dollop of slapstick involved in it all but not so much that it becomes a pantomime. And the adults are regularly embarrassed. We love it when that happens, don't we, dear reader? I won't tell you what happens to Charlie's dad on the waterslide. I'll let you enjoy it fresh!
Overall, Cheeky Charlie is a very successful enterprise. There's a good selection of short episodes that are equally enjoyable shared by reading aloud or read alone by the emerging reader. The vocabulary is accessible and neither too simple nor too challenging. Charlie is a highly amusing protagonist and Harry is a highly relatable narrator.
What more could you want?!
More enjoyable short story collections for this age group include The (Fairly) Magic Show and Other Stories by Rob Keeley and Wonderful Wriggly Worm by Eugenie Summerfield.
You can read more about Mat Waugh here.
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