Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Busted! Skateboard Party (The Carver Chronicles) by Karen English

Richard is watching the clock above the whiteboard. Four minutes until his weekend officially begin. When the bell rings, that's the signal for freedom. He only has to endure waiting for everyone at his table to straighten up and look "ready to be dismissed."

Walking slowly, checking desks, looking at the floor, Mrs. Shelby-Ortiz, says, "I like Table Three."

Hooray--that's his table.

"Okay, Table Three. You may line up.

Except Richard--I want you to be seated for now."


Richard has had the weekend already planned--getting up before his big brothers and eating Cinnamon Crunch during cartoons on Saturday morning, yelling and kidding with his dad and brothers while they watch the big games on TV, and especially getting lots of practice on his flat-ground Ollie so he can show it off at Gregory's skateboard party the next weekend.

But there's that problem of his report on howler monkey habitat he's never turned in. Richard had used a case of sniffles as an excuse to stay home on the day of his group's presentation because he had forgotten to do his report. All week he's put off doing the report, and his teacher lowers the boom. She gives him a note, pointing out the now one-week overdue report and his low grades in math and spelling, and tells him to return it--signed by his parents--along with the missing report on Monday. Or else he'll get no recesses all week.

Still, Richard decides not to take any chances on being grounded over the weekend. He decides to wait until he's done the report to show the teacher's note to his parents on Sunday night. But Richard never quite gets around to the howler monkeys and "forgets" to hand over the note to his parents.

Monday he lays low in class, hoping Mrs. Shelby-Ortiz has forgotten about the note, but eventually she calls his hand on it. She benches him for all recesses and gives him a new and crankier note for his parents, pointing out the delays. And Richard is sure that when his parents see the latest note, he'll be grounded at home and lose the any hope of going to Gregory's birthday party and showing off his new skateboard trick.

But finally Richard has to get that note signed, and this time he is truly busted. He's grounded, gets extra chores, is forbidden to go to the party on Saturday, and told that he has to make 100 on his next Friday's spelling test and present his report orally to the class before his punishment will be cancelled.

As Richard finally buckles down, he gets one break: the birthday party is rained out and rescheduled for the following Saturday. He will be able to go IF he can give howler monkey habitat the attention it deserves and ace the spelling test on Friday.

It all comes down to whether he can remember how to spell Q-U-O-T-I-E-N-T!

In Karen English's Skateboard Party: The Carver Chronicles, Book Two (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2014), Richard is a typical fourth-grader who mostly means well, but has a lot to learn about postponing fun until his work is done. With a supportive but firm teacher and parents and some influence from his friend Gavin, Richard learns a lot about honesty and putting first things first. Along the way, Richard discovers that he can be a good speller and that howler monkeys really are some pretty cool creatures. Middle readers will empathize with English's likable character in this humorous early chapter book.

The Coretta Scott King Award-winning Karen English's first book in this series was Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles, Book One (see review here).

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