Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome

by Bill Harley (2014)

Charlie Bumpers is back and he’s got another quandary. His 4th grade class is doing a school play, The Magician’s Castle. He really wants to play the Evil Sorcerer – who gets to say, “Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!” – but instead he gets cast as a gnome. The Nice Gnome. The Really Nice Gnome.

That is not what he wanted, that is not cool, and for Charlie, that is a problem to solve. To top it off, his older brother Matt is not exactly sympathetic, and his younger sister Mabel is way too curious and interested in the role of the Gnome and the play.

If you know Charlie, none of that is about to stop him, but you also know that most of his ingenious solutions end up backfiring in one way or another. That’s what makes Charlie Bumpers a winning protagonist, someone elementary students can relate to and identify with. Readers can enjoy and solve Charlie’s problems, vicariously. Families can talk about Charlie’s strategies, when dealing with his siblings and when dealing with his teacher.

His teacher! The redoubtable Mrs. Burke. Charlie’s antagonist in Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year. She’s just as firm and strict – and just as sly and understanding. Which means that she eventually cottons on to what Charlie is up to.

Find out how Charlie resolves his dilemma as the Really Nice Gnome. See what his siblings contribute. Join fast-on-his-feet Charlie and see how he is able to adapt and improvise when things, as they often do during one-time elementary school play performances, don’t go as planned.

Enjoy Bill Harley’s brisk, accessible, snappy prose and story-telling. Bring all your families into the everyday world of Charlie Bumpers. “Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”