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This is first and foremost a buddy comedy. The fact that the two buddies are fourth graders is what makes it special. Like all fourth graders Raymond and Graham are simultaneously practical and insane. Nutty schemes are all in a day's work. Crazy plans are works of misguided genius. They are able to be absolutely clueless at one moment and yet capable of startling clarity of understanding at another.
The author does a wonderful job of getting inside his heroes' heads - showing us their pain at being left off a party invitation list because of their "uncoolness", their wild plans to become cool and popular at camp, and the way that their friendship survives every twist and turn of their antic summer camp experiences. There's more going on here than the cartoon cover would suggest. I'm sure that kid readers will mostly like the parts about eating a worm, the underwear switcheroo, and so on. This is, after all, mostly a camp hijinks tale. But I got a kick out of the conversations between our two heroes. They could be wistful, rueful, delusional, hopeful, excited, hopeless, and manic. There were ups and downs, victories and disappointments, but through it all the boys were decent, generous, good hearted and loyal to each other.
A lot of this works because the author has a great eye for the telling detail. Early on in the book Raymond and Graham join a neighborhood girl on her backyard trampoline, which is when they learn they weren't invited to the big party because of their uncoolness. There is a protocol to how you get permission to get on someone's trampoline, and the author got it just right. There is a terrible awkwardness to accidentally telling someone about a party they didn't know about, and the author got it just right. There is a certain mix of anger, despair and sadness that is part of the later discussion of who else was invited and so socially outranks the uninvited, and the author got it just right. This is the kind of detail that is usually overlooked in elementary school hijinks books, but it has always seemed to me that this is what marks a really worthy and satisfying effort.
You care about what happens to these guys; they strike a chord in the young reader's mind. And the book is funny. That's a pretty good combination and a pretty nice choice for an elementary school reader.
Please note that I found this book while browsing the local library's Kindle books, and downloaded it for free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.