Book 1

Mystery, mice, and money at the end of fifth grade!

from my book

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Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything

Book 1 in the Cheesie Mack Series

Here are all the links I promised I would put on my website:

  1. Tell me if you liked this book… or if you didn’t… or whatever.
  2. Unusual grandparent nicknames.
  3. Countries with money that doesn’t break into hundredths.
  4. Guess what it will cost to mail a letter fifty years from now.
  5. Images of cool stamps and your made-up captions to go with them.
  6. Anything about frog and toad leg lengths.
  7. Excellent rodent jokes to add to my collection.
  8. Have you seen a vampire or, even better, been bitten by one?
  9. The answer to my puzzle: eighty-three cents in four U.S. coins.
  10. Cool words that sound like what they mean.
  11. Which three words is “skivolvunged” a combo of?
  12. Vote for your favorite food.
  13. How to toss things over your head backward with your toes.
  14. Other names for sow bugs… and my science report.
  15. What was the evidence in Goon’s pocket?
  16. Glenn Philips’ “a half of a time” explanation.
  17. Determining if Glenora Jean Prott was a Ms. or a Mrs.
  18. Cheesie’s and Georgie’s junk food presentation.
  19. Six U.S. pennies minted in 1909.
  20. The Harder/Bigger Word Game (THABIWOGA). [It doesn’t work. I’m a dud!]
  21. The title of my next book.
  22. Do you know why Eureka was dented into the paper in the envelope?
  23. All about my last birthday party… and tell me about yours.
  24. Where to say hi. Or leave a comment. (I hope you do!)

Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything

Book 1 in the Cheesie Mack Series

The Original Cover

Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or AnythingThe original cover of this book—and Book 2—(both illustrated by Adam McCauley) have been replaced by new ones (illustrated by Douglas Holgate) because the people who publish my books thought my covers would look better with much bigger pictures of me. (Don’t start saying I’m conceited. It wasn’t my idea.)

There are lots of characters in my books, and most of them were pictured on the original covers. If you don’t know who everyone is, click here for a rundown.

Read more→

Part of my book you can read now!

Excerpted from: Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything

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My Best Friend Screams

The phone call was from Georgie Sinkoff, my best friend.

“GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!” he screamed into my ear before I could finish saying hello. And then he hung up on me.

I ran outside, yelled to Mom where I was going, and sprinted into the gully behind my house, which is in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where I have lived my whole life.

If you don’t know where Massachusetts is, look in the upper right-hand corner of the United States.

I left Alaska out because it’s too big.

Mass (sometimes we call it that) is a small state.

Map of the US with a star on Massachusets

Only six states are smaller. Even Hawaii is bigger, but it’s kind of cheating because lots of Hawaii is ocean. I have a U.S. map on my bedroom wall, and because I look at it every night before I turn out my light, I have almost memorized it.

Gloucester (people here say GLAH-stah… weird, huh?) is the oldest fishing port in America. It was founded in 1623, only three years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, which is also in Massachusetts somewhere. I have never seen Plymouth Rock, but rocks last almost forever, so I guess it’s still there.

Georgie and I live less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean, in a neighborhood of big, old houses. Not old like Pilgrims, but Granpa says our house is older than he is, and I know he is way more than seventy. (He does not celebrate his birthday, and I don’t even know when it is. He won’t tell.)

Our houses are three blocks apart if you use the streets, but Georgie and I only go that way if we’re on our bikes. There’s a scrawny little stream in a scrawny little gully that separates our backyards, and it is so narrow that last year Georgie launched a balloon filled with chocolate pudding all the way from his bedroom window over the trees and the gully into my backyard, where my sister was playing with her friends.

I told you he has terrific ideas!

Of course I was in Georgie’s bedroom at the time, but on purpose here’s what I did not do:

  1. I did not fill the balloon with pudding.
  2. I did not touch Georgie’s huge slingshot.
  3. I did not help pull back the rubber part.

I did not do any of these things so that if Mom or someone asked, I would not have to lie. I did help aim it, kind of. When the pudding bomb landed and splashed chocolate on you-know-who, the girls screamed like the universe was exploding—and even though we got yelled at, it was cool.

Georgie launching a balloon filled with chocolate pudding all the way from his bedroom window over the trees and the gully into my backyard, onto my sister's head.

I trotted through the gully on the path that Georgie and I made, then up the other side and through the won’t-close-gate into his backyard. Once inside his back door—I never have to knock—I yelled for him. He yelled back from the basement.

I walked down the stairs. They creaked and squeaked like in horror movies. (I’m not trying to scare you—it’s just one of the details I remember.)

His house, like mine, is really old. The basement and stairs are made out of wood, and the floor is mostly dirt except for the concrete part where Mr. Sinkoff keeps his tools.

I could see a shadow moving on the basement floor, so I knew Georgie was directly beneath me, under the stairs. When I reached the bottom, Georgie stepped out and grabbed me, talking real fast.

“I found something big! Really big!”

There were cobwebs in his hair. He had one hand behind his back.

I have known Georgie my whole life. We have always been best friends… except for the time in third grade when he called me Dumbo Ears. (This is really the last time I am going to mention my ears!)

GeorgieGeorgie has reddish-brown hair, greenish-brown eyes, braces, and really cool glasses with bright red rims. He is already eleven and is almost twice my size. He is good at games where being big is an advantage, like basketball and football. My best sports are soccer and baseball because I am wicked fast and very excellent at catching flies.

I have brown hair, brown eyes, and a whitish scar on my thumb where a fishhook stabbed me when I was on a lake with my dad. I was eight and fooling around. Don’t ask.Cheesie

Georgie and I go to the same school, have always had the same teacher, and in the summer, always go to camp in Maine.

“I was down here looking for black widow spiders,” Georgie continued. “I figured if I caught one in a jar, we could use it to scare your sister. But this”—

Georgie brought his arm around and held up a yellowed envelope with one corner ripped off—”was completely hidden between those two boards.” He pointed under the stairs, but I took my eyes off the envelope for only a second. “It’s addressed to my house, but the name is”—he squinted at the envelope—”G. J. Prott.”

“Probably there was somebody named G. J. Prott who lived here before you guys,” I said. Georgie nodded. “Look what was in the envelope!”

He held out a piece of paper folded up small, then opened it. Inside were a silvery metal heart on a silvery metal chain and one penny.

“A penny? Not exactly treasure, Georgie.”

“Yeah, but this necklace is probably real silver. And what if there’s more hidden stuff? Like gold and diamonds.”

I picked up the necklace and held it high between us. The lightbulb on the basement rafters was not very bright, but the heart sparkled as it spun slowly.

“I bet a hypnotist could use this to hypnotize people,” I said.

Georgie didn’t say anything. Maybe I’d sort of hypnotized him.

I placed the heart necklace back on the paper in Georgie’s hand and examined the coin. The back looked a lot different from any other penny I’d ever seen, but the front had the same face on it: Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president.

(Glenn Philips, the smartest kid in my class, can name all the presidents and all the vice presidents. In order!)

I looked at the date on the coin. “This penny was made in 1909.”A really old penny! (From 1909)

That snapped Georgie out of his trance. He grabbed the penny and peered at it closely. “That means it’s over a hundred years old.”

One of us said, “Whoa.”

I don’t remember who.

End of Book One ExcerptOrder Your Copy
Read from Book Two: Cheesie Mack Is Cool In A Duel
Read from Book Three: Cheesie Mack Is Running Like Crazy!
Read from Book Four: Cheesie Mack Is Not Exactly Famous
Read from Book Five: Cheesie Mack Is Sort Of Freaked Out

end of excerpt

Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything

is available in the following formats:

Random House

May 22, 2011

ISBN-10: 0375864377

ISBN-13: 9780375864377

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What People Are Saying About My Book:

Read or write reviews on Goodreads →

“Fifth-grader Ronald “Cheesie” Mack’s problems (like how to outsmart his evil older sister) may be ordinary, but in the hands of first-time author Cotler they’re plenty entertaining. Playful use of language. Many entertaining bit characters. Cotler blatantly sets readers up for Cheesie’s next adventure; after this installment, they’ll be ready for it.”

Publishers Weekly

“Ronald “Cheesie” Mack and his best friend, Georgie, are about to graduate fifth grade and embark on the best summer ever. Readers will be happy to learn that Cotler’s debut is the first in a new series. Cheesie chattily narrates his own story; his voice rings true, and the other characters are a gently quirky, appealing lot. His periodic invitations to read posts on or add stories to the website will hook denizens of the digital generation.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Ronald, aka Cheesie, Mack is looking forward to a summer of scheming with his best friend, Georgie, terrorizing his sister June “the Goon,” and finally attending camp with Georgie as cool older campers. [T]hen Georgie finds an old letter containing a century-old penny and a locket, a mystery that eventually leads the pals to the Haunted Toad, a local rundown mansion. This is Cheesie’s story, and his easygoing, accessible voice will certainly appeal to middle-grade readers. From the plot to unleash mouse madness at the school graduation to his obsession with besting his older sister, the action here is all fun and games.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Ronald Mack—better known as “Cheesie”—is an almost-11-year-old with a knack for silliness and trouble. Cheesie’s best friend, Georgie, is with him every step of the way. When the boys find a mysterious envelope, they’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. [A] rollicking read.”

School Library Journal

Comments from my Readers & Friends

  1. my sisters graduation is tomorrow. she was going to go to kent. then she is going to teledo.

  2. ieb eneit ueh78 3u i3y g eeiw uetnfg3u eruhg cuev.

    cool huh, its the derek laguage

  3. I totaly love your book! You and Georgie are really brave to go into “The Haunted Toad” . I really liked the twist at the end about how Ms. Prott was actullaly pretty rich. It was suprising! Camp sounds so fun! It’s cool how it’s in Maine. I really loved your book! I hope you write another!
    P.S. I love mack and cheese too!

  4. you should come to the new middle school in barbeton,ohio. i hope you have more great adventure’s like the penny. i love your book.i could probably find a nickname for my sisters could you help me out im having a hard time to find one.i cant wait till your next book comes out.thanks in advance

    see you next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Hey, Chris Lindsey he already came to our school. He came to Rose Avenue Elementury. That was fun we already learned all kinds of thing about his book.

    1. I will contact your library and ask them to order some copies. I like librarians, and I bet they’ll do it. Wait a week or so, then ask the children’s librarian if they’re ordering the book.

    2. I got an email from the librarian in your town. She said they have TWO copies of my book. Check it out!

  6. I heard you are coming to my school soon. Do you recall “Loma Verde Elementary”? I’m sure you do. I’ll see you there Steve. See ya!

  7. Hahahaha well my user name thingy is SteveC. and im not a boy im a girl duh Steve is the author of this book and also one of my favorites well my teacher is reading Chessie Mack is not a genis or anything to the class and i like how in the begining it has a chapter

    Oh and im sorry i made you read that big paragraph

  8. I started reading the book to the kids today and it inspired one of them to get a library card…a job well done sir! We can’t wait for you to visit our school =)

  9. i love you book.
    i could compare my life to yours.
    im in fifth grade it is almost my gradutation. have a sister who is older than me and is mean to me but sometimes nice.

    1. i hope your sister is nice to you when she is going to college. sometimes i cant wait for my sister to go but, then sometimes i dont i get all sad! what would you do without your sister? my sister is leaving for college soon what should i do now? i have another sister who is the same as my first sister.

  10. I LOVED your book.OMG,I can’t wait for your next book.I’m
    counting down the days!!!!!!!!

  11. The book was amazing. I liked it when ”Cheesie” had started a big thing when ”Goon” tried to make him and Georgie not win. I hope you write another one.

  12. My friend just told me the part where Cheesie’s friend found the envelope in his cellar!!!! So cool. I would love to be Cheesie right then

  13. I’m from Texas. My friend has been telling me all the details of the book every time she reads it . I’m in the 8th grade and i still think its really funnnnnnnnyyyyyyy!!!!!!! You should read it!!!!

  14. Dear Cheesie,

    I am a grown up who works for a library in Indiana, and we bought your book for the kids! I snitched it to read it first though, because it looked so funny – and it was! I laughed out loud. I can’t wait to find out what happens to you at camp! I wonder how many kids in Warsaw, Indiana will check out your book?


  15. We really liked your book, Cheesie. We look forward to reading the next one. When?

    1. Thanks! Book #2 (Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel) comes out June 2012. Long time to wait, huh?

  16. Hi Cheesie Mack! I saw you at my school today with Steve Cotler and was hoping you would reply. I go to Highlands Elementary School 🙂

    1. Boy, did I have a great time at your school today. I met a bunch of really terrific kids!

  17. I really like the book

    also, i have a friend named georgie and hes really funny, just like the georgie in the book

    1. I bet your parents do not approve. That’s why I never use the name GOON in front of mine.

  18. I really like the book. I call my sister Gork. a combination of pig and dork.

    1. I meant it to be funny. I’m glad you laughed. And I’m glad you did NOT find it boring.

  19. your book is awsome my teacher won the contest where you can win the book my teacher won hat contest it was cool the book is funny and a really good book im in third grade i go to alcott the school and this year is almost over

    1. Hey, Dillon–
      I am really glad you like it! I hope other kids at your school like it, too.

  20. I find you a finally. You make me wanna say oh, oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh my gosh. Wow oh wow oh wow oh wow oh wow oh wow wow oh my gosh.

  21. I love your book its the best book in the world will you make a series my teacher ms magnant won it on face book she said that she was a teacher in millbury teaching 5th grade…nuff said and now she started reading the book to my class its sooooooooo good

    1. Yourwelcome Cheesie are you going to make a seeries ’cause your book is so good i could read a whole series all day!!!:)

    2. Atalia…it is a good book! I am so glad you and the rest of my classes are liking it. Writing to Cheesie Mack is a lot like the techno world of “Mr. Henshaw.” Very cool!

    3. Yes, I love it alot and it gives a great visualiation in my mind…thats one of the reasons i like this book:)

    1. Wow! You had me fooled. But then I figured out that you couldn’t be my sister because, just out of spite, she would NEVER come onto my website.

  22. If you take the initials of “is not a genius or anything” and the first letter of chapter 0 you get “in a goat” so the the title could be CHEESIE MACK, IN A GOAT!!!


  23. cheesie, I have an activity for you. keep thinking:”Must make second boooooooooooook!” until you go insane. then you try to stop thinking about it. when you’re done with that, do what your thinking!

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t like it. Can you tell me why? You, know, like adults always say…can you offer some “constructive criticism”?

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