Book Review: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates (MG)

Published on September 1, 2016.
Goodreads Summary:
At last Charlie Bumpers is assigned to the same soccer team as his best friends Tommy and Hector. They can’t wait to try out the stupific offensive plays they’ve perfected at school recess. Their team, the Pirates, is sure to win the championship this year! But the three friends high hopes are crushed on the first day when they see their shrimpy and inexperienced teammates bumbling around on the field. They also find out that their new coach doesn’t believe in star players. He expects everyone to learn all the positions and never gives the dynamic trio a chance to perform together. Even though supposedly no one keeps score in this league, the first few games are a big disappointment to Charlie. To make matters worse, his big brother Matt has joined a video club and he is recording every one of the Strikers disastrous plays. If we can’t be on a winning team, Charlie thinks, then maybe Tommy, Hector, and I can at least win the prize for selling the most candy bars for the fundraiser. They pool their resources and sell their candy together. What could possibly go wrong with that? After a series of near catastrophes, Charlie and his friends learn that hotshot plays and gimmicky sales techniques aren’t as effective as hard work, honesty, and cooperation.

My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this book with my son (almost 7 years old). Even though it’s book 5 in a series, it works well on it’s own. Charlie and his best friends are finally on the same soccer team, and it’s first year in the under 12 league. They’re excited to play together, and they’re convinced they’re going to dominate the league. Their coach has other plans though. He’s focused on teaching the boys to play all positions and to work on their soccer skills. He doesn’t let Charlie, Hector, and Tommy play together because he doesn’t want any superstars, and anyway they don’t even keep score in this league. I was reading this book at the same time I was reading Mindset for Parents, and I loved the growth mindset of the coach.
The subplot focuses on a candy bar sale fundraiser for the soccer team. The boys really want to win the big prize for selling the most candy bars, so they decide to pool their resources and work together. Everything goes wrong: they eat too many candy bars without paying, they lose some money, etc. Things spiral out of control, and Tommy decides the solution is getting more candy bars to make more money. Sadly it doesn’t work that way as Charlie points out. This part of the book stressed me out big time. Why didn’t they just tell an adult and get some help? The suspense made me keep reading with my son night after night, and it gave us a good opportunity to talk through some of the issues that the boys were facing.
We both really enjoyed this book, and we’ll have to check out some of the others in the series. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

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