Category Archives: humor

Dagnabit, lemmings! Pay attention!

lemmingsConsider the lemming and its stereotypes.  This could come in handy if you are a fox working on a fish trawler called the S.S. Cliff with a bear captain and three very impressionable lemmings.  Being illiterate and team players, the lemmings seem incapable of hearing anything but the word “jump.”   After several challenging water rescues, Foxy realizes that his lemming friends are not dim; they just don’t know how to read.  Whew!  Now there’s a problem we can solve, right?  Literacy for lemmings!  Go team!

Fun read.

Read the Book, Lemmings!  by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora

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Literacy for wolves is good for everyone

baabwaaSometimes you can roll through a whole book and not even notice the details.  Sure, it might be a bright and cheery picture book with a nice rhyme or cunning little windows, a quick read, and even perfect for winding things up with a restless storytime crowd.

Baabwaa & Wooliam is not that book.  The details in the illustrations, like the groovy camper and the chalkboard with wolf-related vocabulary, really make the words sing a silly, perky little tune.  Yes, there is a classic wolf focused on his dinner, but he’s not your usual fairy tale wolf.  And the sheep are not your usual sheep.  Baabwaa, Wooliam, and the wolf are a whole lot of fun, so don’t miss this one, even if it takes a little longer to read it and appreciate all those details.

Baabwaa & Wooliam by David Elliott and Melissa Sweet

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When we’ve come to expect the unexpected

wolf duck mouseAh, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.  I see your names, and I start wondering what you will drum up next.  Will it be absurd?  A little dark or a lot dark?  Funny?

No matter what I think beforehand, there’s always a twist or a tangent that I don’t quite expect.  You don’t really sit and imagine duck and a mouse planning dinner parties in a wolf’s stomach, for example.  That might be what you get.

Is there something deeper going on?  Some statement on our connectedness and the ways we can work together?  You sure could read it that way.  But maybe it’s just a goofy story that calls for some exclamations like “oh woe!” and a dance with a colander.   Some books (and parties and afternoons) are just like that.

The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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How all occasions do inform against me…preschool version

There’s nothing really mind-shattering or new going on in either of these books, but this should not matter to any of us.  It’s always good for kids to see things that can be connected to their real lives, right?  (Blah, blah, pontificate about themes, ramble on about character development, blah, blah.)

Here’s the thing.  Charlie (a rabbit) can’t get to sleep.  Other animals keep messing it up with noisy interruptions.  Charlie has a routine, darn it!  Why won’t they just cooperate?

Meanwhile in another book, someone is trying to get their shirt off.  It’s stuck.  How will we live our lives if we can’t get this darn shirt off?

So really, nothing is new or exciting here.  But kids will love these books.  Why?

The stories are simple but funny and perfectly illustrated to bring out even more smiles.  That is all.  That is all we need some days.  Today.  So, perfect for today.

Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake

Sleep Tight, Charlie by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo


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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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