Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Author Eric Luper has made his first journey into the world of middle grade fiction.  JEREMY BENDER VS. THE CUPCAKE CADETS is perfect for this age group.  With a good mix of male and female characters, crazy antics, and life lessons Luper's new book should be a success.

Jeremy and his buddy Slater attend the Thomas Scolari Academy.  It is an all-boy school and prides itself on its strict rules.  According to school authorities there is a zero-tolerance policy for bullying.  Jeremy and Slater have yet to see this policy enforced.  They are constantly tormented by one particular bully named Paul Volger.  His most recent attack was aimed at Jeremy and resulted in a painful megawedgie. 

The boys are contemplating this vicious attack as they lounge around after school.  Jeremy is tinkering with his father refurbished antique speedboat as he daydreams about the day he and Slater might be allowed to take it for a spin.  Momentarily distracted, Jeremy spills grape soda into the newly rebuilt engine and then thinking he is using degreaser to clean up the mess, ends up spraying the entire engine with green spray paint.  When his father discovers the disaster, Jeremy knows he'll be grounded for life.

As the boys plot to find a way to repair the damage, they come up with what they are sure is a fool-proof plan.  There is a contest called the Windjammer Whirl sponsored by the Cupcake Cadets, a Girl Scout-like group.  The winner of the model sailboat race gets $500 in prize money.  That happens to be the amount necessary to replace all the damaged parts in Jeremy's father's boat. 

The tricky part of the plan involves the fact that only girls can be members of the Cupcake Cadets, but it doesn't take long for the boys to realize a couple of uniforms and a wig would transform them into potential members.  The whole thing should be a breeze.  Sell a few cupcakes, earn a few badges, and win the Windjammer Whirl, and Jeremy can fix the boat before his father even knows about the damage.

What follows is a fast-paced, crazy string of adventures.  Jeremy and Slater may pass as girls in their disguises, but their lack of ability when it comes to pie baking, camping, and cupcake sales may result in the end of their wacky scheme to make some quick cash.  Whether or not they end up with the money, they will definitely learn a lot along the way.

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