Tag Archives: humor

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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This alphabet is exhausting

little red catThis little red cat never stops.  I mean NEVER.  This little red cat runs and runs and gets chased by other animals and jumps off a cliff, and that’s not even all that happens.  Whew.  But at least there’s a unicorn and a good nap at the end.

It’s kind of like watching the three year olds charge through the library after storytime.  No “walking feet” for these kids.  They are always in a hurry, just like the cat.  Once they slow down, they might really love this book, too.

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs the Hard Way by Patrick McDonnell

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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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Where is my BEST FRIEND DISCO BONANZA?

snappsy 2Snappsy the Alligator is back, and Bert (a chicken) seems determined to have fun with him.

Snappsy does not seem too worried about Bert’s pressing issues:

  • the previously noted disco bonanza
  • a sleepover
  • pinochle
  • matching shirts

Have you ever had a friend who wants to be your friend way too much?  This would be Bert.  Eventually Bert leaves in a huff – “I’m sure I can find another best friend somewhere.”

I feel like Snappsy could have just let Bert go at this moment, reading in peace and living a quiet life.  But Snappsy is apparently not like me and misses Bert.  They might have to navigate some issues in their journey to best-friendship since they are so very different.  Like that moving truck in Snappsy’s driveway, for example.

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller

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Water cycle? Adventure? Both!

ice boyThere is something awesome about an ice cube boy wearing tube socks.  One who gets in trouble for licking his brother.  One who finds a way to escape his destiny in someone’s glass of frosty beverage.  He skips on the beach, glides through the waves, he floats into the sky, and when he decides he misses home, he clicks his tube socks together and ends up in a glass of water with Mom and Dad.  And they might also like an adventure.  Nice!

Also a neat way to talk about the water cycle.

Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein

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The grim reaper does not ruin this party

denton little 2Denton Little was supposed to die in the last book, but he didn’t.  He doesn’t die in this one, either.

Surviving is complicated when there are government agencies interested in keeping the status quo, however.  There may be false identities, strange viruses, car chases, lies, secrets, a romance or two…

There’s some behavior that might be deemed inappropriate for younger readers (drug and alcohol use, sex, etc.) but if you can get past that, you’ll love this sweet, wild ride.  The voices of the characters are among the best-written I’ve come across in books for teens and/or young adults, because they’re so honest, quirky, sarcastic and funny.

A note:  If you haven’t read the first book, get it first.  You won’t find a lot of explanation and back story in this one, which I found refreshing but might be confusing if you’re trying to read it as a stand-alone.

Denton Little’s Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin (sequel to Denton Little’s Deathdate)

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Mother Goose – wannabe fairy or name-dropping gossip?

mother goose diaries“Have you noticed every village idiot with a quirk becomes national news?  Jack and Jill fell down the hill – so what?  Little Bo Peep lost her sheep – how is that my problem?”  (The Mother Goose Diaries)

Oh, Mother Goose, the secrets you know about the fairy tale world!  And now you’re visiting our reality and hanging out with everyone from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Napoleon to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I must admit that I have read none of Chris Colfer’s other Land of Stories books.  I checked the first one out and didn’t get it read in time, and then the others piled up and I was just too lazy to face the whole thing.

This one looked like more of a companion piece, and it’s short, so it was perfect for the end of summer reading brain I’ve got.  This is not serious literature, people, but it’s a fun, silly ride through a somewhat embittered non-fairy’s life, and while time-traveling and speaking her mind, Mother Goose has a way of dropping a few words on social justice in, too.  I’m good with that.

The Mother Goose Diaries by Chris Colfer

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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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Some of these are just for me

carrot and peaCarrot & Pea: an unlikely friendship is one of those incredibly sweet (not saccharine) picture books we could use to talk about tolerance and acceptance, how all of us have something to add to the world, no matter how different we look or seem to be.  And that is exactly what I thought when I read it last night.

And then I woke up this morning, wondering.  Why is the carrot a rectangular carrot stick and not a carrot with greens on top?  Or is it a carrot that’s been processed?  And all the peas are out of their pods, right?  So maybe these peas and carrots are in a vegetable processing plant, which makes the absence of other carrots suspicious.  Why is this carrot the only one?  What has happened to all of the other carrots?  Has there been some kind of epic disappearance?  A plague on carrots alone?

Ok, so maybe I think ridiculous things when I first wake up.  When I told my son about it, he said, “Well, obviously they’re all in a bag of frozen peas and carrots, and some human has eaten all the carrots but just can’t stand peas.  The carrot that’s left was just missed in the massacre.”

Well, at least I’m not the only one in the house with an imagination.

Read this one, though.  It’s a treat, as long as you can handle the suspense and sinking feeling that something is not quite right in Pealand.  Kidding.  Really.

Carrot & Pea: an unlikely friendship by Morag Hood

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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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