Title: Charles McCheese and the Childhood News Network
Author: Emma Jean
Genre: Middle Grade Comedic Adventure
A 4Pigs2Fly 3rd Grade Must Read Praise for Charles McCheese ★★★★★ LOVED THE BOOK! It was so clever and fun. ★★★★★ "An awesome read for kids. My 10 year old is demanding a sequel, and a plane ticket to Tokyo, he wants to get rescued by Captain Shinobi too! " ★★★★★ "Charles McCheese and the Childhood News Network is absurd in the perfect way that kids love. This story is filled with so much magic and adventure that you start to believe it's all possible, like maybe you could turn a rubber duck into a sailboat if you just knew how to dream big enough. ★★★★★ If you like tacos, ninjas, and the Queen of England than this is the book for you! DESCRIPTION Charles McCheese, the eleven-year-old founder of The Childhood News Network, only has two rules for his reporters: they keep grow-ups out of the news, and they report on Southwest Florida and Southwest Florida only. That was the station’s magic formula until Naveen shows up and starts bringing his mom everywhere. Plus, he’s convinced the other reporters they can cover stories from all around the world, when the truth is most of them can’t even find their way home from school. Charles is forced to consider shutting down the station, while his out of control reporters are off chasing conspiracies of their own invention.It’s pretty clear that his team has lost their minds. His second least reliable reporter is never going to get out of Tokyo, and his least reliable reporter is never going to survive her voyage on a giant duck across the English Channel.
The worst part is everyone still finds time to be mad at Charles. Why can’t they see that this is all Naveen’s fault and why can't they all stop talking about Taco Tuesday?
“We’ve recently learned that we have viewers outside of our sunny patch of Florida. So a special good morning to all of you as well! I’m Charles McCheese, and this is The Childhood News Network. Today we have a very special broadcast for you. As many of our viewers may remember our reporter Nicholas Smalls was lost in Tokyo at the time of our last show. We're so happy to report that he’s been recovered by the United States Navy. As we speak, Nicholas is on board an aircraft carrier headed from Japan to the United States. Today, Nicholas will be giving us an exclusive on his life aboard the ship.”
The camera split to show Charles at his anchor desk and Nicholas standing on the aircraft carrier. He was wearing a sailor’s cap three sizes too large. The camera panned up from Nicholas to show a large man beside him, dressed all in white. He wore a sailor’s cap too, his actually fit.
“Nicholas? Can you hear me?” Charles asked.
There was a slight delay. Then Nicholas said, “Loud and clear my friend.”
“Who do you have with you?” Charles asked.
Nicholas smiled proudly. “Well, Charles, as you know, I’m on the USS Abraham Lincoln. For this exclusive interview, I have with me the ship’s captain, Captain Shinobi. He’s in charge of this whole place!”
“Hello,” Captain Shinobi said to the camera in a very deep voice.
It was hard to tell whether he was happy to be there or not.
“Now captain,” Nicholas said, “what can you tell our viewers about the USS Abraham Lincoln?”
“This aircraft carrier has almost 6,000 sailors on board, and it patrols the world’s oceans to help in case of an emergency.”
“That’s a lot of people,” Nicholas said, “and now I’m one of them!”
“That’s true,” Captain Shinobi said, “but only for now. We’ve got to get you home soon. I don’t think you’re cut out for a life in the Navy.
“Why not?” asked Nicholas looking surprised.
“Well, we can’t have our sailors puking every five minutes,” Captain Shinobi explained. “No one can ever get any work done around here with you always being sick.”
“I get sea sick!” Nicholas said defensively.
“The whole United States Navy is aware that you get sea sick, son. Now, let’s show your viewers how we’re going to get you home,” Captain Shinobi said.
He started walking and Nicholas followed him. He had to jog to keep up.
They made it to the ship’s flight deck. It was full of fighter jets and helicopters.
“Are we to understand that Nicholas is coming home on one of those?” Charles asked. He was so jealous.
“That’s right, Mr. McCheese. In fact…” Captain Shinobi said.
He paused in front of a shiny silver plane with missiles on each wing. It looked fast, dangerously fast!
Captain Shinobi ran his hand lovingly across the plane’s silver body.
Nicholas looked green again, then pale white, then he just fell right over. There were lots of sailors around, but none rushed over to help Nicholas. Charles guessed this was not the first time Nicholas had fainted on the ship.
Captain Shinobi ignored Nicholas and continued talking, “This plane is called a Hornet Fighter Bomber. Each plane costs twenty nine million dollars. I’ve got two of them, right here on my ship. I’m going to fly Nicholas…”
Before he could finish, a small hand reached up, and Captain Shinobi lifted Nicholas into the screen frame.
“Are you with us again, son?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir,” said Nicholas. “Were you saying we were going to fly on that thing?”
Nicholas pointed to the fighter jet.
“That’s right! If you look out into the distance, those small islands you see over there belong to Hawaii. Right before we make it to Hawaii, I’ll fly you to San Diego, refuel in San Diego, quick stop over at the base in Texas, and then land on our base in Jacksonville. That’s back in your home state of Florida.”
“I think that’s too many flights,” Nicholas said.
He started to sway as if he was about to faint again. Captain Shinobi ignored him, and talked into the camera.
“Now, Mr. McCheese, you can pick up Nicholas in a few days in Jacksonville. The military is really wasting a lot of resources getting him home. So I’ll get him to Jacksonville and then it’s up to you to get him back home from there.”
“Works for me,” Charles said.
Nicholas looked at Captain Shinobi. “No offense Sir, but you’re a ship captain and that is an airplane.”
“We all have a past boy,” Captain Shinobi said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of old pilot’s wings to fasten to his uniform.
Again, Nicholas fainted.
“Probably better this way,” Captain Shinobi said with a shrug.
The broadcast ended with a few sailors lifting Nicholas into the cockpit. They pulled a helmet over his bobbing head and fastened a pair of wings to his vomit stained t-shirt. The cockpit sealed shut with a slumped over Nicholas seated behind a grinning Captain Shinobi.
A loud buzzing noise, like a swarm of killer bees rang out over the airwaves. It got louder and louder as the fire burned out the back of the engines. Nicholas and Captain Shinobi disappeared into the sky leaving only a trail of smoke behind them.
The screen went back to show only Charles McCheese at his anchor desk. From the safety of the studio, Charles smiled as he concluded the broadcast.
“Thank you all for joining us today. I’m Charles McCheese and this has been The Childhood News Network. Please tune in tomorrow for a special joint report from our very own Naveen Raja and Lilly Bottoms. The pair are off to London in search of the man they call the rubber duck sailor.”
Emma Jean lives in Massachusetts, near the Mayflower (the one the Pilgrims sailed on... or at least a pretty good replica), with her husband, two sons and one troublesome Basset Hound.
She studied Creative Writing at Holy Cross then earned her Masters in School Counseling at Assumption College. Like her reporters she found time to travel the world, helping with the Katrina clean up effort in New Orleans, studying abroad in Sri Lanka, and working alongside the Peace Corps. in Armenia. She worked with the Red Cross and counseled children in some of the toughest cities in Massachusetts.
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