Posts tagged ‘humor’

SEIZING CONTROL

LIAM AND THE GRUMP

Written by Graham-Austin King

Illustrated by Sarah Heseltine

Liam is a young boy who has trouble controlling his temper. His father tells him to reach into his mouth, pull it out and throw it away. Liam attempts to do just that, but his temper comes alive and keeps growing every time Liam loses control. As the story continues, temper incidents escalate. Liam’s mother offers her son a different solution. She advises him to count to ten when he feels like he is losing control.

The illustrations are bright and expressive, perhaps a bit too scary for younger children. The author tries to approach the subject with humor, but some parents may think the message comes on too strong. While the book is targeted for a four to an eight-year-old audience, I would recommend it for the upper age range of that audience or advise parents of younger children to read the story with guidance.

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PANTS IN CHARGE

The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants

Written by Brian Rock

Illustrated by Joshua Dawson

Rock has created a clever chapter book that will keep readers chuckling and thinking long after they have finished reading it. Tyler is a fifth grader who experiences a unique problem. One day in school, his pants start talking to him. Tyler and his best friend, Paul, are mystified and neither can figure out how to solve the problem. As Tyler goes through his day at school, his pants’ chatter gets him in trouble at the library, in the gym, and how will he find the time to study for his math test? But his pants help him solve his problems with Rhino, the school bully, and allow him to impress Audrey, the girl he has a crush on. Will Tyler ever get his “smarty pants” to keep his mouth shut?

The author targets this book for readers in the seven to ten age range. It is a beginning chapter in the sense that the chapters are short and the font large. It also contains a few drawings done in Wimpy Kid style. The humor is infectious and appropriate to a fifth grader. I particularly enjoyed the extension activities at the end of the book. Rock asks what readers think about the characters and presents what-if scenarios to encourage further thinking about the plot. He includes fun facts and a few jokes to continue the fun.

I would recommend the book as a beginning chapter book for elementary school readers, but middle-grade students will also appreciate the quirky characters, humor, and coming of age sections of the plot.

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DON’T BE A CHICKEN

Chicken Wants to Roller Skate

Written by Elsa Takoda

Illustrated by Catherine Toennisson

This beginning reader has a lot going for it. The protagonist is a chicken who wants to do more than an average chicken. She decides that roller skating looks like fun. Chicken lays out the steps necessary to roller skate and proceeds to try. After falling down and feeling bruised, chicken gives up just as many children might do. When Cat begins to chase her, Chicken decides to try once more. Sometimes one must take a risk in order to succeed.

Toennisson’s illustrations are humorous and cartoon-like, perfect for young readers. Takoda uses onomatopoeia effectively. Children will love reading the book aloud and imitating the sounds as they learn the vocabulary words. Recommended for all beginning readers, but I think readers in the five to seven year age range will enjoy it most. Look forward to reading more of this series.

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PAYBACK

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers. Perfect choice for a summer read.

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WITTY AND WONDERFUL

20 Degrees from Normal: Creative Poems for All Ages

Written by Anissa Ferris and Antonio Ferris
Illustrated by Fanny Liem

This brother and sister duo has put together a wonderful collection of poems that address a plethora of topics with skill and humor. Almost anyone can find several that will strike a responsive chord. Readers, young and old, will find themselves agreeing with the futility of getting rid of a fly that has entered the house and the annoyance of a leaky faucet. Teenagers will not be able to avoid laughing at the two poems presenting a teenager’s and a parent’s point of view. The importance of everyday objects like the wheel and a lighthouse are simple poems that point out the importance of objects used and seen every day. I really could not stop laughing while reading the poem about a pet spider and the smartest phone. On a more serious note, the authors strike a chord with the poem about a teacher’s real responsibility and the poem which encourages us to soar by realizing that each new challenge entails possible risks.

This collection is certainly enhanced by the double-page spread illustrations of Fanny Liem. They are big, bold and vibrant drawing the eye right into the text. I would highly recommend this collection for any family’s bookshelf. Students in the middle grades and older will be able to fully appreciate the messages of the poems.

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SHORT AND SWEET

The One That Got Away and other short stories

Written by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Three short and charming stories set in Australia. In the first containing the book’s title, Amanda writes to her sister Sonya from overseas about the love of her life, Thomas, a fisherman who has literally just “got away.” This story is poignant, yet contains humor and an optimistic bent. In the second story, a grandmother struggles with a change of fortunes and the realization that she will have to sell the piano that has given her granddaughter such pleasure. Grandma’s daughter, Angela seems cold and indifferent to her dilemma. The last story brings Caroline back to the beach where she met her true love twenty five years ago. She meets Barry, a young artist, and strikes up a conversation. He reminds her of the man she left behind long ago. A surprise ending brings the story full circle.

The author does a good job of developing her characters and creating the mood for each of these short stories. They are a quick and delightful read. Recommended for anyone age ten and older who enjoys clean well-written short stories.

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ROCKET RUCKUS

Sascha Martin’s Rocket Ship

Written by John Arthur Nichol

Illustrated by Manuela Pentangelo

 

Sascha Martin is a second-grade genius. One day he brings a rocket ship to class and places it on a table with a sign that says, “Do not touch.” Well, you can guess what happens when one of the students pushes the button. It launches into space creating all manner of havoc in the school. The rocket tears holes in the walls, the roof, and damages the athletic fields. It carries a few teachers as well as Sascha into the atmosphere to the horror of the those watching from the ground. Will they successfully return to earth?

This book is part of a series about the exploits of Sascha. It is written in rhyme, which sometimes appeared a bit off, though these rhymes could be peculiar to Australia. Illustrations are delightfully clever and sharp. My rating was lowered in part because the book contains a few errors in punctuation and grammar, but many middle-grade students who enjoy science fiction, adventure, and humor will find it an easy and enjoyable read.

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