Is Cool In A Duel
Cheesie Mack and Georgie Sinkoff are back, and this time they're off to the greatest summer camp in Maine. As the oldest of the Little Guy campers, they'll get to make the campfires and choose the sports teams. It's sure to be their best summer yet!
Then disaster strikes. Cheesie and Georgie are put in a cabin with the Big Guy campers, including Cheesie's archenemy, Kevin Welch. Now the youngest—and smallest—of the Big Guys, Cheesie has no choice but to use his brains to fight Kevin's brawn—he challenges the bully to a Cool Duel. The adventure that follows includes a toilet on a wall, a headless skateboarder, a garter snake mustache, and the scariest ghost story ever told. Will Cheesie survive to start middle school?
With plenty of lists, drawings, and made-up words, Cheesie—with a little help from Steve Cotler—tells the story of the best worst summer ever.
Random House Books for Young Readers • ISBN-10: 0375864385 • ISBN-13: 9780375864384
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from Chapter 5: Little Big Guy
My second day as a member of Cabin H started out terribly.
Lindermann had already left for flag-raising duty, and while I was in the bathroom doing whatever and brushing my teeth, I heard Kevin yell, "Cheese-Runt wet his bed!"
I stuck my head out the bathroom door. Kevin, Ty, and a couple of other guys were looking into my closet cove, pointing and laughing. I pushed my way through. There was a big wet spot on my bed.
Georgie shoved his way to the front. "It's water! You poured it."
Kevin took a swig from a plastic water bottle. "Nuh-uh. Smell it. I dare you!"
"Don't bother, Georgie," I said.
I was pretty sure no one believed them, but it was still hard not to get embarrassed.
On the way to breakfast, Dutcher snuck up behind me and Georgie and growled like some sort of monster. We jumped and Lenny shouted, "The Abominable Snowman!"
Dutcher laughed. "Last night I told them about when I was in the Himalaya Mountains and the Yeti"—his voice got mysterious—"came out of the mist. He was big. Bigger than two men. He came closer. I was hanging onto the side of Mount Everest—"
"You never went to Mount Everest!" I said.
"Maybe not," Dutcher said in his normal voice. "But last night's story did."
"Our counselor stinks," Kevin said as we reached the flagpole. I looked back. There were at least twenty-five kids between us and Lindermann. He couldn't hear. "Our counselor, Ronald…"
He made that name sound poisonous.
"…Lindermann. He says…"—Kevin's voice got all whiny—"'I don't know any ghost stories.'"
Dutcher gave Kevin a stern look. "Give the guy a chance, Kevin."
I didn't like agreeing with anything Kevin said, but Ronald Lindermann was definitely not as good a counselor as Scott Dutcher. But then again, I thought, as I put my hand over my heart for the morning pledge, who was?
At breakfast I was still on server patrol, so I walked to the food window. Normally I'd move faster, but I was musing about other names for the Abominable Snowman, like Yeti, Sasquatch, Big Foot. (If you know something about Big Foot, please put it on my website.) I almost bumped into a platter of scrambled eggs that Lana Shen was holding out toward me.
"Take it," she said. "I'm paying you back for helping me last night."
"Thanks," I mumbled, wondering how long she'd been standing there waiting for me. I walked back to the Cabin H table and set it down. I was really hungry. I watched the platter go around the table. When it got back to me, I scooped the last of the eggs onto my plate and noticed both Kevin and Ty were staring at me and grinning.
"Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer," I said.
I should have been suspicious. I reached for the salt. They were still staring and grinning.
"Stare all you want," I said. "It just makes you look stupid."
I lifted the shaker. Their grins got bigger.
I glared at them, then turned the shaker upside down over my plate and shook it once. The little silver lid with the holes in it came tumbling off, followed by a landslide of salt. Kevin and Ty laughed hysterically. I looked down. My eggs were covered with a thick white layer.
There were no more eggs. I ate toast.
After that came morning activity. The other cabins did swimming, sailing, archery, crafts, and every kind of land sport. Cabin H did ballet.
* * *
Hold it! There is no ballet at Camp Windward!
I stepped away from my computer for less than a minute to get a snack, and when I returned, someone had changed what Cabin H did to ballet. I suspected my dad, who had just gotten into the shower and was singing badly to hide his obvious guilt. So I stuck my head inside the bathroom and asked, but he just sang louder. So I am leaving "ballet" in until he confesses. And just to make sure he confesses, I have stolen his fake foot, which he does not wear in the shower. So if you are reading this, he has not confessed and has either grabbed his foot back from me or is hopping around. I explained why he has a fake foot in my last book. It had to do with a bomb on an aircraft carrier when he was in the Navy.
Okay. Now I am actually several pages further along in the writing of this book, but I am coming back here to insert this explanation: the trickster was not my father. It was Goon. She giggled all through dinner and finally admitted it. I should have known. Ballet is one of the things she is actually very good at. I was going to take the whole episode out of this book, but my dad asked me to leave it in. He thinks it's "a good representation of the way our family interacts." Whether I left it in or not, the rules of the Point Battle mean Goon gets points. Here's how I calculated how many (look in Appendix A if you want to follow my logic):
- Sticking "ballet" into my book was sort of an insult. That meant one point for her because no one else knew about it.
- But I revealed the insult to Dad. My mistake. That made it two points.
- When I found out that I had accused the wrong person, that made it embarrassing. Four points.
Since this all happened while I was writing after the summer was over, I can't include these points in the running totals in this book, because the book gets to "The End" before the summer ends.
Get it? The Point Battle is in two places at once.
Wow! This is like time travel.
Inside Cool in a Duel
Interacting with Cheesie Mack
Readers will find more than just words in Cheesie’s books because he’s a fictional character with a real website. Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel contains more than 20 links that lift the narrative off the page and into the online world. Like this one on page 29:
"There is a place in Massachusetts called Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. It's true! Granpa took me fishing there. You can hear him pronounce the name on my website."
Will middle-grade readers practice until they’ve memorized the longest place name in America?
Cheesie offers online, hip, fun extensions to the reading experience. It's new. It's 21st century. It's Cheesie Mack!
Reviews & News
"At the close of Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything (2011), soon-to-be–sixth-grader Ronald "Cheesie" Mack and his best friend Georgie secured the funds to go to summer camp on Bufflehead Lake in Maine. Days later, the duo climbs aboard a bus and head off to Camp Windward. Unfortunately Cheesie's older sister, June, a.k.a. Goon, will be none too far away at Camp Leeward. When they arrive, their misfortune is compounded when their late registration results in both boys being stuck in a cabin with the older guys… including Kevin, the Goon's boyfriend. Can Cheesie prevail and still have fun at the camp he worked so hard to attend? Cotler's second in the funny and (sneakily) educational Cheesie Mack series is summer-camp fiction and interactive fiction perfected. The promise of volume three on the way will have readers cheering. Wind-WHOOP!"
— Kirkus Reviews
(Read the whole *STARRED* review)
"It's off to sleepaway camp for 11-year-old Ronald "Cheesie" Mack and various family members, friends, and enemies in this sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything. Similar in breaking the fourth wall and featuring lighthearted spot art, this outing relies even more on references to the character's website for opportunities to interact with Cheesie/Cotler and extend the book. While involved in a competition to be named the coolest kid in his cabin of mostly older guys, Cheesie experiences lots of typical camp stuff (short sheets, scary stories, scarier girls) and has a great time, just like the reader will."
"The story has charm and appeal and is filled with words (and their definitions) that will expand readers' vocabulary. Humorous illustrations appear throughout. With an uproariously funny and equally unexpected climax, the book should appeal to most anyone who picks it up. Cotler has created a website for Cheesie and welcomes submissions from readers."
— School Library Journal