Superheroes Don't Eat Veggie Burgers

272p. ebook available. Holt. Jan. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781627790895.
Gr 4–7—Charlie's career in middle school is off to a rocky start when the eighth-grade bully, Boomer, destroys his lunch. To make matters worse, Charlie's best friend Franki, who's a girl, tries to stick up for him. As far as Charlie's concerned, that's the height of embarrassment. Then Mr. P, the science teacher, gives every student a leather-bound notebook with the instruction to write stories from their gut because, he says, "Words can be powerful. Believe in their magic, and anything can happen." Charlie invents a superhero, Dude Explodius, and peppers his story with thinly disguised characterizations of real people in his life, such as his little sister, the soccer coach who's always on him, and Boomer. Charlie is shocked and a little scared when the stories begin to come true. His younger sister now thinks she's a dog, and Boomer suddenly decides to strip naked in school. Charlie, a good guy at heart, scrambles for his notebook to do a few quick rewrites when the stories threaten to get out of hand. Then there's Franki, whose home life is the pits. She's beginning to act more like a "real girl," and Charlie is confused about his feelings for her. The story is funny and, with the exception of the fantastical notebook elements, mostly realistic, with well-defined major and minor characters.
VERDICT A solid read for tweens who enjoy a light dash of magic grounded in realistically based, humorous school stories.

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