Title: Cartboy and the Time Capsule
Author: L. A. Campbell. This is her first novel.
Summary: Hal hates history class—it literally bores him to tears. But his father is a big history buff, and unless Hal gets a good grade this year, he’ll never get his own room. Sixth grade gets off to a horrible start when history teacher Mr. Tupkin gives the class an assignment to write journals that will be buried in a time capsule at the end of the year. Things get even worse when his dad makes him take his neighbor’s old shopping cart to school, earning him the nickname “Cartboy.” What else could possibly go wrong? Read Hal’s journal to find out!
Filled with photos, drawings, and timelines, Hal’s time capsule journal chronicles a year in the life of the hopelessly hapless Cartboy.
This is a cute book. It definitely is along the same lines as the Wimpy Kid books, but where I cannot stand those books, I enjoyed this one. Both of my kids (9 year old boy and 11 year old girl) loved it, and asked if there would be more in the series. My 9 y/o likes, but does not love, to read, so when he would make a point of going to his room and reading, I knew this book was a winner.
There really isn’t much I could recommend changing in this book. As an adult, it was a little slow at times, but it seemed to flow just fine for the kids. The characters were amusing, if a little underdeveloped, but again, my 9 y/o identified with them right away.
Both of my kids and I like the book and we all three hope for more like it.
Colleen B. with special guest Chloe B.
Chloe, 11 years old: The idea of a time capsule is cool but this story was kind of boring. One of the things that I didn’t like about it was the timelines. They took up a lot of space and were a little dumb. Another thing I didn’t like was the way random things were described in the book, such as the “bowtie”. I think that this book is written for 3rd and 4th grade boys, not girls going into the 6th grade. One good thing about the book is that it was easy and quick to read.
Colleen: I have to say that I actually enjoyed this book. Both of my elementary age kids have read similar books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries but I have to admit that I haven’t read any of them. (Although I have seen the Wimpy Kid movies.)
I thought the book to be a short, quick read with plenty of funny jokes, puns and pictures. I do have to agree with my daughter that boys in the 3rd and 4th grade would love this book. Girls tend to not “get” boys being stinky, whiny or weird.
Campbell did a fantastic job with the story line and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I will be collecting her further works for my son, he will enjoy them!
Books that use funny cartoon sketches, obnoxious family members and/or situations, and middle school bullies have been in vogue since the wild success of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. As a sixth grade teacher, I have seen students that read and reread this series ad nauseam. Teachers and parents appreciate the enthusiasm, but are anxious to see this interest springboard to other books. L.A. Campbell has written a book that may appeal to the reader’s of this “silly, but still mostly realistic fiction” genre. Although her book is more earnest and more family centered than those by Kinney, it still may capture the interest of the intermediate readers.
In Campbell’s book, Cartboy and the Time Capsule, Hal is desperate to have his own room. His young twin sisters, although cute, are not ideal roommates. This story centers around his efforts to earn his own bedroom. Unfortunately, he is in danger of flunking history (his father’s favorite subject) and being grounded forever. Throw in a conflict with his best friend, a surprising interest in a girl, and several misunderstandings with his history teacher and you have yourself a novel. The story is told in letter form as a part of a time capsule assignment. This first person account is easy to follow. Many reluctant or below grade level readers respond well to first person narratives.
To sum up my thoughts… The negatives: a few story lines feel underdeveloped, some plot twists are not very realistic, and it does not escape the “lessons” that parents and teachers love, but kids…not as much. The positives: the use of photographs, sketches, and especially the time lines “drawn by Hal” are funny and will appeal to kids. Also, the actual conflicts and problems in the story feel realistic. Overall, I would suggest that this could be a good fit for the 3rd – 5th grade reader that is looking for something light and funny.
Cartboy and The Time Capsule by L.A. Campbell is a funny, fast middle-school read that will entice even the most reluctant readers. Don’t be fooled by the title. This book isn’t just for the boys. My 4th grade daughter was excited to read this book with me every night. The illustrations are clever and add to the personality of the book. Great read to end the summer or get the school year started off right.
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