Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything, by Steve Cotler (lexile: 770; AR book level: 4.8; 229 pp)
Ronald Mack (aka “Cheesie Mack” — guess what his favorite food is?) and his best friend Georgie are getting ready to make the boring 5th grade graduation ceremony much more interesting with the addition of some smuggled-in white mice. That escapade doesn’t go quite as planned (thanks in part to Cheesie’s evil older sister), but it certainly portrays the creativity characteristic of these boys and the story.
Both boys are bummed at the beginning of the summer to find out that Georgie can’t afford to go to the summer camp they always attend together. A mystery livens things up, however, when Georgie discovers an envelope in his basement containing a necklace, a name, and a 1909 penny. Maybe they’re valuable — valuable enough to pay for summer camp; or maybe they rightfully belong to someone who lived (or still lives?) in the old, apparently abandoned house they’ve nicknamed The Haunted Toad. Cheesie and Georgie piece together the clues, and end up facing a tough decision that may endanger their friendship.
Cheesie himself narrates this lighthearted and fun picture of two best friends and their shared adventures. Along the way he includes lots of odd facts, his own made-up words (“splenderful” = “splendid” + “wonderful”), and references to his website where readers can contribute to his many lists. There’s already a sequel — Cheesie Mack is Cool in a Duel — also very good.