Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets by Eric Luper

Cover image for Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake CadetsJeremy Bender is in deep trouble.  He has ruined the engine on his father's vintage speed boat, and he needs some cash fast to get the parts to rebuild it before his father finds out. Jeremy learns that the girls' Cupcake Cadet group is having a model boat racing contest, and he figures he is sure to win the $500 prize money.  There is only one problem.  To enter he has to be a cupcake cadet, and have already earned three achievement badges.  Jeremy convinces his best friend to join him in a scheme to dress up and pretend to be girls so they can join the cadets and win the money.  But being a cadet is not as easy as Jeremy thought.  It turns out that the Cupcake Cadets are no cream puffs.

This is one of the most sexist children's books I have ever read.  The message is clear.  Girls are smart and capable, while boys are stupid dolts.  The book would have never been published if it were a couple of girls dressing as boys and trying to join the BSA.  It would cause an uproar if girls were portrayed as stupid and the boys were all accomplished and smart.  But since the genders are reversed, it is considered a funny book.

And it is a funny book.  I must admit I found myself laughing out loud more than once.  The two friends play off each other really well, and there is good character development in Jeremy and his female rival, Margaret.  Still, I am not sure who I would give the book to.  I can't see giving it to a boy, because the portrayal of masculinity is so uncomplimentary.  I can't see giving it to girls because the main characters are boys.  A canundrum. (235 p.)

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