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Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network by @EmmaJeanAuthor is a Pot O Gold event pick #mglit

Title: Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network

Author: Emma Jean

Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction

Book Blurb:

Have you ever watched the grown up news?

Then you know it’s the worst!

That’s why Charles McCheese and his reporters had to start the Childhood News Network, where they could report on topics that kids love, like puppy videos, fighter jets, the zoo, and ninjas.

Everything was going fine, until the team stumbled upon the Taco Tuesday conspiracy. Now the kid reporters are lost all over the world, and Charles is forced to consider shutting down the station.

Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network


Chapter 1

Keeping It Local

The camera zoomed in on Charles McCheese. He was probably the best looking eleven-year-old in Southwest Florida. He was definitely the only eleven-year-old who could boast of having his own news station: The Childhood News Network. Now, it was time for his show.

“Good morning sunny Southwest Florida! I’m Charles McCheese, and I want to thank you for tuning into The Childhood News Network. The only network that keeps grown-ups out of the news!”

Charles picked up his note card and read, “Our first story today comes to us from our very own Thea Washington.”

The television screen split in two. Half the screen showed Charles sitting at his desk. The other half showed a small, smart-looking, brown haired girl.

She was standing in front of a gray warehouse. The warehouse had a giant cheeseburger statue on the roof.

“Thea,” Charles continued, “I hear you’re at the Cheeseburger Factory, just down the road from our studio.”

“That’s right Charles,” Thea said. “And as we all know, all the cheeseburgers served in Florida come from this very building.”

“So what’s the problem?” Charles asked.

“The problem is in the skies,” Thea said, pointing a finger upwards.

The camera followed Thea’s finger towards the sky. A cheeseburger crash landed right on the lens. Ketchup smeared across the screen but the viewers could just make out a crow flying in the distance. The crow had dropped the cheeseburger. He was carrying three additional cheeseburgers in his beak. No wonder he’d dropped one!

The ketchup-y camera turned back to Thea who pointed to the chimney of the burger factory. A swarm of black birds disappeared down the brick chimney. Then moments later, they flew out with their beaks full of burgers.

“What on earth?” Charles asked.

“As you can see, Charles, the crows are robbing the Cheeseburger Factory as we speak!” Thea said.

“What are the adults doing about this?” Charles asked.

“As of now, nothing. The Childhood News Network is the only station covering this crime spree. I’ve seen police cars drive by and not even stop to help!” Thea said. She sounded worried.

“What does this mean for Florida’s cheeseburger supply?” Charles asked.

“I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but we may not be eating cheeseburgers for a long, long time.”

Just then another crow dropped a burger right on top of Thea’s head.

“These crows are messy eaters Thea. You better get out of there,” Charles suggested.

Thea nodded, then said, “This is Thea Washington signing off.”

The camera turned back to show only Charles. “That was scary stuff,” he concluded. “I hope Thea makes it out of that crow robbery safely.”

Up next we have Lilly Bottoms right out back at Marino Park. Marino Park, my favorite park and yours too. A big thank you to our sponsor Marino Park. And now here’s Lilly Bottoms with the Park Pulse.”

The screen split again to show both Charles and Lilly. Lilly was a very muscular ten-year-old, who always wore bows in her blonde pigtails. She wore pink rubber glasses and had a reddish nose.

“Lilly what have you got for us today?” Charles asked.

Lilly stared into the camera through her thick glasses.

“Lilly, are you there?” Charles asked.

“Yes,” Lilly said, her eyes still on the camera.

“Okay—so Lilly what have you got for us today?” Charles asked again.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Okay. Thank you, Lilly,” Charles said, his image filling the whole screen once more.

“Next, we’ll be checking in with my buddy, Nicholas,” he continued cheerfully. “Nicholas, where are you today?”

The camera screen split again, this time showing a bright eyed, eager boy with longish hair, that the wind kept blowing into his eyes.

“I’m at the zoo!”

“Wow, Nicholas, the zoo is all the way downtown. What are you doing there, buddy?” Charles asked.

“I’m here because I’ve uncovered a conspiracy!”

“Not a conspiracy!” The microphone had picked up the voice of Lilly Bottoms who was back in the studio, but off camera.

Charles McCheese shot her a look that said: Be Quiet!

Next the audience heard a faint giggle from Lilly then the shuffle of her feet as she left the studio in answer to Charles’s second angry look in her direction.

“Viewers, I’d like to apologize for that interruption,” Charles said, “Now Nicholas, what exactly is going on at the zoo?”

“Remember Cupcake the lion cub?” Nicholas asked.

“Who could forget? Here at The Childhood News Network, we love that little lion!”

“Well, he’s missing!” Nicholas blurt out.

“WHAT?!?!” Lilly Bottoms shouted from the other room.

Charles McCheese’s normally calm face turned bright red. “We’ll be right back with this shocking story after a quick word from our sponsors,” he said, pausing the broadcast.

He jumped up from his seat and ran into the break room where he found Lilly Bottoms.

“Lilly what are you doing? This is a professional broadcast. We’re the only children’s news channel on cable television. Do you know how hard it is to compete with the adult news for viewers?” Charles questioned her, in a very adult-like way.

“Not hard at all,” Lilly said. “Grown-up news is the worst!”

“The worst,” Charles had to agree. “But still, Lilly, I need you to be quiet in the studio.”

“Sure thing, bossy-pants,” Lilly said while Charles was walking out of the room.

Charles turned around. “What was that Lilly?” he asked angrily.

“I said sure thing, boss,” she lied.

Charles held her stare for a moment, then rushed back to his desk.

He was still a little red in his cheeks when the cameras started rolling.

“And we’re back,” Charles said, his voice full of fake cheer. “What else have you got for us Nicholas?”

“As you can see, I’m standing in front of the lion cage but inside the cage: no Cupcake!”

Buy Links (including Goodreads):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network is a must-read for kids in third to fifth grade, especially right now. During the quarantine, kids have learned that the outside world can be a scary place. In the book they will see kids exploring the world, going on adventures, getting lost, and sometimes scared but still being tough enough to make it home in one piece.

I know for me with my own children, I never want them to lose their sense of wonder or adventure. Charles McCheese is a great antidote for that during a long tough quarantine.

Giveaway – Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 23 books featured in the Pot O Gold Bookish Event: Open Internationally. Runs March 11 – March 21, 2021. Winner will be drawn on March 22, 2021.

Author Biography:

Emma Jean writes books for children of all ages.

She 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 in the Charles McCheese series, 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.

For more information on the author, and to see pictures of the aforementioned basset hound, find her on instagram @Emma.Jean.Author

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @Emma.Jean.Author

Twitter: @EmmaJeanAuthor

1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Mar 13, 2021

Thank you, Emma, for sharing your book in our Pot O Gold Bookish Event!

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