Charlie Bumpers vs. The Squeaking Skull
Written by Bill Harley
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Charlie Bumpers is a typical fourth grader who is afraid of scary movies, but certainly doesn’t want any of his friends to know it. His brother tries to help prepare him for a Halloween sleep over by telling him a scary story every night before bed. Each night the “practice story” becomes a little scarier.
Of course, Charlie had another purpose for wanting to go to this particular sleep over on Halloween night, too. It was so he didn’t have to take his little sister out trick or treating! Lots of young readers will relate to that problem.
So, he gets to the sleep over and goes trick or treating in a new neighborhood with really big houses and rich people. They all expect to get lots of extra candy at such big houses, but instead find themselves getting only one piece at each house. And the houses are so far apart they only get enough candy to fill the bottom of the bag.
While the story is somewhat predictable to adults, it will provide fresh excitement for the grade three readers and even the strong grade two readers. Bill Harley is able to capture the realistic voice of the fourth graders as well as of their parents. The black and white sketches by Adam Gustavson also help get the reader into the story. The pacing and vocabulary is spot on for developing independent readers. They will have great fun getting to know these characters and will enjoy reading more stories in this series.