Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates by Bill Harley, Adam Gustavson

hsquared's review against another edition

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Readers familiar with Harley's song "The Love of the Game," may recognize Charlie's soccer team. Like the team from the song, Charlie's team hasn't had a lot of success on the soccer field. None, in fact, and each loss gets harder to take. Charlie and his friends have come up with a sure fire play that's bound to help them score points, but they can't use it if the coach won't put them all in at the same time. Harley's handle of youth soccer is spot on, with young players who are carefully keeping score even if the grownups aren't—officially. And parents and kids alike will recognize the pitfalls of fundraising that Harley so humorously illustrates. The boys' coach is a quiet, patient man who slowly but steadily builds the soccer skills of his team of misfits. Harley avoids the temptation to manufacture a spectacular last-second win, instead taking a more realistic, but still satisfying approach. Soccer players and fans will both enjoy this lighthearted story of the agony of defeat and the glory of winning—and families who are there for both.

*Review copy received from publisher for review for the Children's Literature Database

kunger129's review against another edition

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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.