Category Archives: humor

Libraries know everything

max and birdIf you work in a library (check) and read books to kids (check), this book will positively sing to you.

“Follow me,” said Bird.  “We’ll go to the library.  Libraries know everything.” (from the book)

And then they DO go to the library.  And they find materials to do their research, which might take them weeks, because they are just that serious about their research.  And then they experiment and make mistakes.  (Also, they meet a pigeon who looks a bit like our friend Pigeon from Mo Willems’ books.)  Will they succeed in solving their problem?  Will Max’s list of pros and cons sway him to eat a friend or be a friend?

It’s a happy ending.  I’ll be reading this one to kindergarten this year, I think.  It’s a bit wordy for really young kids, but oh so fun.  If you haven’t read Vere’s Max the Brave, check that one out, too.

Max and Bird by Ed Vere

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A bad guy meets his match

bad-guy-9781481460101_lgAh…siblings.  The power struggles, the down and dirty tricks, the trips to the library.  All part of that constant struggle to stay on top, right?

There’s a nice twist here.  The bad guy whose mom calls him “sweetie” turns out to have an equally evil sister, the kind who will eat the last popsicle in front of you and probably laugh her evil laugh.  And Mom?  Maybe she’s not so nice, either….

Bad Guy by Hannah Barnaby and Mike Yamada

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Two balls of clay

claymatesTake a deep breath and imagine what you’d do if you had two balls of clay.

This book would be my dream scenario, since honestly, no animals I’ve ever made from clay look remotely like this.  You could probably figure out my elephant from the anatomically incorrect long trunk, but otherwise, good luck.

And that’s why I love this book so much. It’s beautiful, packed with creative and easy-to-pick-out animals and shapes and things.  Kids will love it, too, because it’s kind of sassy and funny, and the unseen artist’s attempts to create one thing might turn into something else.  Definitely worth a look and possibly a great one for a kindergarten book lady day next year.

Claymates by Dev Petty and Lauren Eldridge

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A B for you, an Ethel for me

Did you take the B from my –ook? is one of those books that speak directly to the reader, engaging them in the storytelling and creating some silly situations.  “Here’s a pair of –lue –oots” and so on.

It’s kind of like something we used to do when our son was little.  We’d make every word of a story start with B – maybe that’s where all those missing Bs went! – so that you’d have “Biddle Bed Biding Bood”.  Bandma had all kinds of boblems, you know.

Fun and silly, and the simple drawings add to the wackiness of it all.

Fortunately, Jennifer Black Reinhardt was not missing a B when she wrote Blue Ethel.  Ethel is an old, fat, black and white cat, who’s somewhat set in her ways and enjoys a good roll on the sidewalk before taking her afternoon nap.  One day, she rolls as she usually does and becomes blue.  What kind of horrible industrial accident or plague has hit?  (It’s a picture book, so rest assured, it’s probably just some especially powerful sidewalk chalk.)  The effects don’t seem lasting, however, and Ethel finds that being colorful is pretty cool.  The word play and illustrations are a joy, and Ethel is delightful.

Did you take the B from my –ook? by Beck and Matt Stanton

Blue Ethel by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

 

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When you are young and you have an imagination….

petewithnopantsHere’s what I love about Pete With No Pants:

·         Pete is an elephant.  Pete does not want to wear pants.

·         Pete uses his imagination to become a boulder and a squirrel, because they’re gray and they don’t wear pants.

·         Pete’s mom is cool, although she wears hats and dresses and–I’m sorry to say this–old lady pajamas.

This is a sweet book, with a lot to look at.  I don’t think I could pull off a read-aloud with it – the details are too small to really share well with a group.  But it’s funny and cute and ends with a rainbow, even if I secretly wish Pete’s mom was wearing yoga pants and a ball cap.

Pete With No Pants by Rowboat Watkins

 

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Why Timmy Failure always makes me think about philosophy

timmy cat

I understand (I think) the beauty of Timmy Failure books.  I have written before about the joy I find in reading the chapter titles, stunners like Unforgivable, That’s What You Are and Wasting Away Again in Marge and Rita-Ville. 

And there is always Timmy, so fabulously clueless about absolutely everything that you begin to wonder if he is really an absurdist genius.  Or maybe he’s an existentialist.  (Merriam-Webster defines existentialism as “a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.”)  I looked it up, just to be sure.  It’s been a while since I studied philosophy.

Yes, yes, I know.  The author of Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants is not writing for middle-aged white women who go off on philosophical tangents.  And yet.  There’s a certain genius about a character and a series of books which both make you laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all – something most definitely NOT to be sneered at in this troubled world – and then very quickly bring you back to the reality of a character’s life.  How does any kid deal with an absent father, an imaginary and difficult polar bear sidekick, AND a confusing world which demands both doing what everyone else does and being an individual?

And those frog underwear are to die for, too.

Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis

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The LEGEND of Rock, Paper, Scissors

rps“Drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!”

Really, this entire book is one ridiculous name-calling incident after another.  Is Rock kind of a bully?  Is Paper a master of printer jams and angry outbursts?  Is Scissors a little too snippy?  Maybe.  Do I care?  I do not.

Perhaps I would use this book as a teachable moment.  You could winkle a message out of the book about how bullying behavior doesn’t make anyone (Rock, Paper & Scissors included) very happy.  You could talk about balances of power or appropriate behavior.

Or you could just read it over and over on your own, also with your spouse and your adult friends, and then laugh some more with the kids. Honor the legend, my friends.  Honor the legend.

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex

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When your vice principal is a little too much like HAL…

fuzzyMiddle school is no fun in a world where standardized testing determines everything.   (This is supposed to be the future, a time when tweens and teens reference slang from fifty years ago like “awesome, bro.”)  Vice Principal Barbara is an automated administrator, charged with monitoring everyone and everything:  students, teachers, hallway behavior, the all-important test scores.  Then Fuzzy arrives.

Fuzzy is a robot designed to learn from others, part of an experiment to see if robots can have independent thoughts, “fuzzy” thoughts which might be outside of their programming.  Things get a little crazy.  Detentions are flying left and right.  Robots are breaking the rules.  Vice Principal Barbara is rewriting her code to get rid of the kids (and adults) who lower her averages.

It’s a funny dystopian take on the usual middle school story, and there are laughs in it for adults, too.  If you’ve ever felt like standardized testing is the opposite of education, you’ll smile.  If you’ve ever had an awful boss or dictatorial teacher or suspected your computer is working against you, you’ll also love the depiction of Vice Principal Barbara.  So, really, there’s something for all of us.   Awesome, bros.

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger

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A little light reading with hedgehogs and puppies

buddy-earl-baby_1How did I miss the Buddy and Earl books?  Ok, maybe there are only 3 of them.  Maybe they happened to be released when I just wasn’t paying attention.  Maybe they’re a little wordier than my usual picture book reads.  Who knows?

But Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby?  I’m this close to using OMG in a post, people.  This baby is a disaster!  It eats Earl’s food, licks Buddy’s toy, escapes from its cage (playpen) and washes Dad’s new shoes in the toilet.  Earl’s response?  “Go find something else for the baby to wash.  We need to keep him busy until help arrives.”  Ha!  Earl may be a bit of a drama queen for a hedgehog, but he’s hilarious.  Buddy provides just the right amount of common sense to make things even funnier.  Maureen Fergus, Carey Sookocheff – get to work on the next one.    I’m thinking it can only make the world a better place.

Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff

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Picture books for a lazy, silly day

 

Sometimes the to-be-read pile of chapter books is just too big and daunting, and a stack of new picture books is exactly what I need.  Today’s batch was especially fun – packed with interesting art, quirky characters and fun stories – so settle in for some oohs, some ahs, a few sighs and many giggles.

The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora – You might not know this about libraries, but donuts with sprinkles go especially well with them on Saturday mornings, as long as you keep the icing off the pages and can keep the monsters out.

Splashdance by Liz Starin – Ursula the Bear has dreams of winning a water ballet competition until the sign goes up –NO BEARS ALLOWED.  What?  No way!  And an unwanted bear might just do something dangerous like crashing the competition.  Look out, animal separatists.  She is Ursula.  Hear her roar.

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes by Tim Wynne-Jones & Brian Won – “Shoe Store Man looks shifty. ‘Frisk him,’ says S.A.M.”  Hilarious.  You will definitely find something to chuckle at if you have ever created your own Plans for World Domination.

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton – If you have ever dreamed of more interesting mail arriving at your house, this book is for you.  Dragons?  Pigs?  Pickles?  Excellent.

City Shapes by Diana Murray and Bryan Collier – In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow a young girl’s journey through a city full of color and shapes.  This book is the perfect prompt for your own shape scavenger hunt.

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