cover image Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything

Steve Cotler, illus. by Adam McCauley. Random, $15.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-375-86437-7

Fifth-grader Ronald "Cheesie" Mack's problems (like how to outsmart his evil older sister June, aka "Goon") may be ordinary, but in the hands of first-time author Cotler they're plenty entertaining. Cheesie's asides frequently break the fourth fall ("I mean, here you are reading this book, and you want to know what the bad news was, but there's this long sentence that you're reading right now that doesn't actually take all that long to read..."), and his playful use of language should go a long way to making readers feel like they've known Cheesie and his goofball friend, Georgie, for years. The main tension in the story arises from the discovery of an old, valuable penny that the boys find in Georgie's basement. But though the mystery of the coin is fun, the best reading comes with Cotler's narrative meandering, his many entertaining bit characters, and the intermittent trouble that Cheesie and Georgie must avoid. Cotler blatantly sets readers up for Cheesie's next adventure; after this installment, they'll be ready for it. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (Mar.)