Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey, by Bill Harley, Adam Gustavson

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Just before Thanksgiving, Charlie Bumpers is given an assignment in school to define what family means to him. Knowing that his annoying "little turkey" of a cousin, Chip, is about to invade his bedroom for the weekend, his response is less than favorable, and his teacher refuses to accept it. Instead, she sends him home to look for the good in his family over the holiday and report back on Monday. With Chip causing trouble at every turn, it seems impossible that Charlie will ever complete his homework, until his siblings step up and prove that they are there for him, even if his parents don't understand what is going on.

This book really captures the essence of spending a holiday with family. The various family members and friends who come to dinner at the Bumpers house are well-described and full of personality, as are the members of Charlie's nuclear family, and the way they all interact with one another recreates in prose the hustle and bustle of a major celebration. Especially well-written are Charlie's slightly irresponsible Uncle Ron, who brings a rocket for the kids to launch, and cousin Chip, whose inconsiderate behaviors are as believable as they are grating.

The plot is filled with funny incidents that could conceivably occur in real life, including memorable moments involving the aforementioned rocket, a plate of brussels sprouts, and a broken bathroom doorknob. Charlie's frustrations at being blamed for things that are not his fault also keep the reader interested in the story, as he or she hopes for justice for the story's hero.

This is a solid book, which is likely to appeal especially to boy readers in grades 2-5.