Publisher: Balzer & Bray (May 1, 2011)
Audience: Grades 3 to 7
Source: ARC from Mid-Winter ALA
Fiction * Humor
When eleven-year-old Jeremy Bender does major damage to his father's prized boat, he figures he has one way to avoid being grounded for life: Fix it before Dad finds out. But even if Jeremy and his best friend, Slater, combined their allowances for a year, they still wouldn't have enough money for the cost of repairs.
Inspiration strikes when the boys see an ad for the Windjammer Whirl. Sponsored by the Cupcake Cadets, the model sailboat race pays five hundred dollars to the winner. There's just one problem: You must be a Cadet—and a girl—to compete.
Confident that it will be the easiest money they've ever made, Jeremy convinces Slater they should dress up like girls and infiltrate the troop. But as the boys proceed to botch everything from camping to field hockey, they realize that being a Cadet is no piece of cupcake.
Can Jeremy and Slater earn their badges and win the money? Or will their Cupcake careers be over faster than you can say "vanilla frosting"?
With the release of Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets, young adult author Eric Luper successfully transitions into the world of Middle Grade novels. Even without reading the description of the book, and only looking at the cover and title, I was already expecting a book that would provide some laughs. I didn't take that many pages before I was already chuckling. The description of Jeremy's options of what he might do to avoid eating a fistful of grass and dirt being served up by the school bully had me completely hooked and then came...the megawedgie.
As I read Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets, I occasionally had images of I LOVE LUCY or BOSOM BUDDIES. When an accident involving Jeremy, his best friend Slater, some grape soda and green spray paint damages his father's boat, Jeremy has to come up with an idea to raise some money and fast. He talks his friend Slater into dressing up as a girl and joining the Cupcake Cadets and entering their annual Windjammer Whirl for a chance to win $500. (Doesn't this just sound like something Lucy would talk Ethel into?) Jeremy's plans of course never turn out exactly as he expects which makes for quite a few mistakes and lots of laughs.
The nice thing about Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets is that you can easily book talk this to both girls and boys. Luper's use of humor and short chapters will also draw in fans of some of the more popular graphic novels who have been reluctant to crossover to regular length Middle Grade chapter books. Additionally, it would make a great classroom read aloud with wonderful opportunities to discuss things like gender, responsibility, sportsmanship, and more. I am excited to share Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets with students that I know and anticipate this being a book that is frequently checked out of a classroom or school library.
Check out author, Eric Luper's website: http://www.ericluper.com/
To follow Eric on Twitter: @ericluper
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eluper
Below is the official book trailer for Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets
* Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays were started by Shannon over at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe. You can check out her Marvelous Middle Grade Monday choice and Giveaway Post here.