Currently viewing the category: "Humor"

Pig the Pug
Author: Aaron Blabey
Published: July 1, 2014 by Scholastic

A Guest Review by Rebecca Welch

Summary: Pig is a greedy dog and does not want to share his toys with his housemate, Trevor. Trevor thinks it would be a great idea if him and Pig shared toys because then they would be able to play together. Pig does not give in and gathers all of his toys so Trevor can’t get to them. A mishap occurs that makes pig realize the importance of sharing and friendship.

Review: This book is great for any elementary school classroom! I absolutely loved it and thought that the message at the end was applicable to any group of young children. The rhyming makes the book great for a fun read aloud and the illustrations are fantastic. There was also a bit of humor. I highly recommend this picture book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great to teach rhyming because each page rhymes. You could talk about the moral of a story and use it as a segway to students’ writing about a time where they learned an important lesson (moral). You could have students determine the meaning of the idiom “flip a wig” by the using context clues and then study other common idioms afterwards. In addition, you could introduce character traits and determine the traits of Pig and Trevor. You can also practice making predictions by predicting what will happen to Pig. It would also be a great classroom discussion facilitator on sharing and the importance of friendship.

Discussion Questions: How do you think Trevor may be feeling when Pig won’t share his toys?; What does it mean to be greedy or selfish?; What do you predict will happen to Pig?; Can we think of any times that we have been greedy or selfish?; What does “flip a wig mean”?; What is the moral of this story?

Flagged Passage: “I know what your game is, you want me to SHARE! But I’ll never do that! I won’t and I swear!” (p. 7).

Read This If You Loved: Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

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Thank you, Rebecca!

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I Am (Not) Scared
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Published March 21, 2017 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: Two fuzzy friends go to an amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as “scary” as they thought. With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) being scared features the endearing characters from the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small.

Ricki’s Review: These books crack me up. I have loved every book in this series, and they all make me giggle and giggle. Each book teaches an important lesson to kids. In this book, readers learn what it’s like to be scared, and why being scared can be transformed into something quite fun! I can’t decide which I like more—the writing or the illustrations. The characterization is beautifully done, and this wife and husband (author and illustrator) team is brilliant. I recommend this series highly to kids, and I also recommend it for use in creative writing classrooms.

Kellee’s Review: We are huge fans of Kang and Weyant books here at the Moye house. Our wall growth chart is from You Are (Not) Small, and I cannot wait to buy the plush fuzzies for Trent! I think that each of their books take on a pretty serious childhood issue (sharing, comparing, now fear) and talk about it in a fun way that still has a pretty clear lesson intertwined with it. This one is going to especially be one I read with Trent because as a three year old, he is just starting to really be scared of things, so it will be a really good discussion to have with him. If you haven’t read any of these books, I highly recommend getting all three–you will not be disappointed. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers will appreciate these books because they are great for use as beginning readers. Unlike some of the dry, boring beginning readers in classrooms, the books in this series use just the right number of words that will allow kids to read without getting incredibly frustrated. I’d recommend this series to both teachers and parents! I am happy to have all of the books in this series for when my own son begins to learn to read!

For more information, and to download a free activity kit, visit annakang.com, or download at: http://bit.ly/2mKbFWi

Discussion Questions: What are the two fuzzy creatures scared of? How does the writing work together with the illustrations to share the story?; How are the characters feeling on the last page? How do you know?

We Flagged: “I am not scared… Are you?

Read This If You Loved: You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, That’s (Not) Mine by Anna KangScaredy Squirrel  by Mélanie Watts, The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems

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About the Authors:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of two other books featuring these characters: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and That’s (Not) Mine. Christopher’s work can be seen regularly in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their Bich-Poo. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.
Twitter: @annakang27 @chrisweyant05
Instagram: annakangbooks; christopherweyant
Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant

 

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**

 

Brobarians
Author & Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Published March 28th, 2017 by Two Lions

Summary: This is the tale of the mighty Brobarians. Two warriors, once at peace…now at odds.

Iggy the Brobarian has taken over the land. Can Otto the Big Brobarian win it back? Or maybe, with a little help, the two brothers can find peace again…

This is an epic—and adorable—story of sibling rivalry and resolution.

About the Author: Lindsay Ward would never have written this book if she hadn’t stayed up late one night watching Conan the Barbarian. She finds the idea of baby barbarians to be very funny . . . and hopes you do too. Lindsay’s recent books include Rosco vs. the Baby and The Importance of Being 3. Most days you can find her writing and sketching at home in Ohio with her family. Learn more about her at www.lindsaymward.com or on Twitter: @lindsaymward.

Praise for Brobarians

“Highly cinematic, both in imagery and narrative soundtrack…Good and campy and a fine opportunity for vocabulary building.”—Kirkus Reviews

“As readalouds go, it’s pretty epic.” – Publishers Weekly

“Ward’s plot cleverly celebrates the spirit of imaginative toddlers, and her cartoonlike cut-paper collage, pencil and crayon illustrations playfully match the humor of the tale. A boisterous, silly picture book that would work well for story-time.” —School Library Journal

Kellee’s Review: This extended metaphor really embodies what it feels like to be a sibling. As the oldest, I can definitely remember times when I was younger and felt like I was in a battle with my sister for attention or cookies or anything that she had that I wanted. And through this metaphor of siblings as brobarians fighting over territory and bah bahs, hilarity ensues! Once best of friends, they are now at odds–who will win?!

Ricki’s Review: Ah, this book is the best! As a mama of two boys, I feel so lucky to have it in my collection. I read this one with both of my boys on my lap. My older son thought it was fabulous. He did a demonstration of some of the moves after we finished. My younger son pawed at the pages and was clearly enamored, too. I can’t wait until they are both a bit older. We are going to create paper outfits to match the outfits of the characters in the book. I highly recommend this book. I promise that you will get swept into the adventurous spirit of these two boys. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Publisher’s Weekly says, “As readalouds go,  it’s pretty epic,” and we would have to agree. In addition to the read aloud opportunity, there are opportunities for discussions about siblings to go along with a family unit. Brobarians brings to light the rivalry that siblings may feel against each other which is something that any child with a sibling may feel and may feel is not normal. Using this story, teachers can discuss what it may feel like to have a sibling and ways to deal with sibling rivalry.

You can also check out a coloring sheet and a map of Brobaria here!

Discussion Questions: Why are Iggy and Otto fighting at first?; What does Otto do to make it worse?; Who wins in the end?; Did you see the end coming? Who did you think was going to win?; How does the map on the end sheets help you navigate the story better?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion, Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Best by Stacy McAnultyWe Found a Hat by Jon KlassenHoot and Peep by Lita JudgeThat’s (Not) Mine by Anna Kang

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for copies for review!**

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The Time Museum
Author: Matthew Loux
Published February 21st, 2017 by First Second

Summary: The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

Review: Delia’s life changes drastically when she learns the truth about her uncle and his career running the Time Museum. Unlike any museum that she’s ever been too, the Time Museum curates directly from historical periods by traveling through time. Because of her love of science and high intelligence, Delia is chosen not to only spend some time at the Time Museum but also to compete with five others for a coveted internship! This competition includes challenges that take them to different points in time and a task they have to compete. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Loux’s adventure-packed though humorous sci-fi novel will find a wide range of readers because it hits on so many different genres and is so well done. This is definitely a book to pick up for your graphic novel, sci-fi, and adventure fans! (Oh, and as a teacher, I mus say I love the theme!)

Discussion Questions: If you found the Time Museum, what time period would you want to visit?; Which of the characters have traits that are most similar to you?; What are the dangers of time travel? Do you think it’s worth it?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, HiLo by Judd Winick

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Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck
Author: Jeff Anderson
Published October 11th, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.

This dynamite sequel captures the middle-school experience—and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end.

Review: I always worry about sophmore books because there is always a chance that the story will just not hold up to the premiere; however, Zack is back and better than ever! The first Zack Delacruz adventure really introduced us to the diverse cast of characters at Zack’s school and just how rough of a time Zack has on a day-to-day basis. Book two begins with one of the funniest days I’ve ever read about in a book! Not only does he knock down the new girl who he wants to get to know during a game of dodgeball, but it definitely gets worse than that (but I am not going to tell you!). Next to the humor, the thing I love most about Anderson’s choice of character is that he makes sure that Zack’s school reflects a real school and the teachers and kids that go there. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Just like the first book, I think the key to Zack’s potential is making sure he is in libraries and read aloud.

Discussion Questions: What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at school?; What should Zack learn from what happened with Abhi?

Flagged Passages: “And all the frustration and embarrassment from the day made my skin burn. Why did every terrible thing seem to always happen to me? My eyes were getting wet. I wasn’t going to add crying to my fool portfolio. All my rage went into the red ball. I gripped it, not sure what to do. After all, I really didn’t want to hit her. But if I threw the ball too softly, people would say I had a crush on Abhi.  Then they would start heckling me from the sidelines. Just like this stupid game of dodgeball, there was no way to win middle school. So, I chuck the ball low and away, so I would just miss her leg. But at that moment, Abhi jumped.

The ball smashed into her angle, and her legs flew back from the force of the ball. She slammed facedown on the hard wooden floor with a boom like thunder.

The gym went silent.” (p. 34)

Read This If You Loved: Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff AndersonFrank Einstein by Jon SciezskaPickle by Kim BakerBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

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**Thank you to Lauren at Sterling for providing a copy for review!!**

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Juana & Lucas
Author and Illustrator: Juana Medina
Expected Publication September 27th, 2016 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana’s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning—one that Juana will need to speak English to go on—Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones — the hearts — of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina.

Review: Early chapter books are one of my book gaps, and I have been trying, over the last few years, to read as many of them as I can, so I was very happy to have the chance to read Medina’s Juana & Lucas. One thing I have noticed as I read these beloved early chapter books are that although the characters may be diverse in some aspects of their culture/identity, most of the characters are not diverse in their ethnicity. However, now here comes Juana (and Bea Garcia!). She is a character that everyone reading will relate to in some way, and now Latina/Latino students or students learning English will have a character to relate to in early chapter books. 

In addition to the new diversity in this group of books, Juana & Lucas is also just a funny and sweet book about a young girl who has to learn that working hard to learn or be able to do something new is worth the work. This theme will definitely resonate with so many students!

I also want to add that I didn’t know much about Columbia when I started, but when Juana starts talking about Bogotá, you can hear her love of the city come through the pages, so I went to Wikipedia right away to learn more about the city, and I am in love! I told Jim I want to retire there. It is beautiful, and their temperature varies from 43 to 66 degrees! That is the perfect weather! Now, I have to go through the same thing as Juana and learn Spanish, so I am ready to go in 25 or so years 🙂

 Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Juana’s story will be an asset for writing, reading, Spanish, and ELL classes. Medina’s writing can be used as a mentor text for voice and descriptive language, the story is perfect for reading strategies such as context clues and character analysis, the book includes Spanish words throughout the story that aren’t always defined, and Juana is struggling with learning English. All of these things make Juana’s story one that is a perfect addition to all classrooms.

Discussion Questions: How did the character pages help you learn about the different characters in the book vs. if they had not been included? (Class activity: have students complete a character page like Juana’s about members of their family, characters in different books, or a character before they write a narrative.); How does Juana overcome the struggles she has with English at the beginning of the book?; How does each character throughout help Juana grow as a students and person?; Why do you think the author chose to have some words in different size and bold font?; How did the author help you “hear” Juana’s voice while you were reading?; How were you able to determine the meaning of the Spanish words throughout the book?

Flagged Passages: “Mami is the most important person in my life. Most. Important. And here’s why: Besides being the best of moms, Mami is really good at taking care of plants. She loves all plants, even the ones with the complicated names I can’t pronounce…” (p. 31)

Early Sketch for Juana & Lucas (http://juanamedina.tumblr.com/post/139399423961/early-sketch-for-juana-lucas)

Early Sketch for Juana & Lucas (http://juanamedina.tumblr.com/post/139399423961/early-sketch-for-juana-lucas)

Read This If You Loved: Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke, Amelia’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss, Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

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The Curse of the Were-Hyena
Author: Bruce Hale
Published July 5th, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Summary: What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena?

a) Flee in terror?
b) Try to cure him?
c) Bring him carrion snacks?

Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people’s homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what’s happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.

About the Author: Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce’s book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog.

Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

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Review: There are so many kids who are going to love this new series!  It immediately reminded me a bit of the Bailey School Kids series because it does such a good job being funny and scary (but not TOO scary; just enough), so this series is going to be a wonderful ladder between Bailey School and Goosebumps. I also really liked the easy inclusion of a diverse cast of characters. This will help a wide variety of readers to see themselves in one of the characters. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to a good Halloween or full moon read aloud and definitely a classroom library addition, The Curse of the Were-Hyena would be a good cross-curricular read because of the projects Mr. Chu has his students do as well as the interesting look into African art. First, Mr. Chu assigns an oral report on “Something that Makes me Crazy.” This would be a fun tie in to the book, and it would be a good public speaking opportunity. There is also mention of a social studies project which seems to be about traditions of cultures from around the world. These two things in addition to the African art (and even the moon cycle and comics) help the book tie into different subjects. Lasly, Hale’s use of imagery throughout the book makes for a perfect reading or writing mentor text.

Discussion Questions: What clues were there that Mr. Chu was a were-hyena and not a werewolf?; Predict as you read about who you think the alpha were-hyena is. Were you right? What clues did you miss?; Benny and Carlos went about solving the mystery in a quite dangerous way. How would you have done it?

Free discussion guide and activities can also be found on Bruce’s website!

Flagged Passages: “As I reached for my final item, the mauled tennis show, Mr. Chu surprised me. He peeled back his lips and growled–a serious growl, like a Doberman giving one last warning before taking off your arm. His eyes rolled upward, showing only the whites, which totally creeped me out.

All the little hairs on my body stood straight up. It felt like someone had dumped a six-gallon Slushie down my back.” (p. 6)

Author’s Guest Post!: I asked Bruce his formula for writing creepy books for kids, and he shared these secrets with us!

“Scaring kids for fun and profit”

When my wife and I were sharing the movies from childhood that really creeped us out, I couldn’t wait to show her The Omega Man, a movie that gave me nightmares when I was young. “This’ll knock your socks off,” I told her. When we watched it, however, we both burst out laughing at the cheesy special effects and stilted dialog. (To be honest, her movie, Monkey Shines, was no 28 Days Later either.)

That got me thinking. Tastes change. What scares kids can be quite different from what scares adults. And when it comes to writing creepy tales for the younger set, it’s good to bear three things in mind.

It’s the antici…pation

Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “There’s no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Writing scary stuff for kids isn’t just about piling on the startling scares; it’s largely about setting up expectations. That’s where true suspense lies. For example, if a kid is walking down a dark street and suddenly a monster pops out, that’s a surprise. Suspenseful? Not so much.

However, if everyone tells your young hero that something has been making neighborhood pets disappear, and that they’ve heard strange growls outside at night, that sets up an expectation. Then, when she’s forced to take a nighttime walk, it will be fraught with the terrors of her imagination. Every twig that snaps, every shadow that looms becomes a threat. And after all that anticipation, when the monster finally shows, the suspense goes off the charts.

Hold the murder

A dash of violence is fine, if it stays on the cartoony side. But when writing for middle-graders, it’s best to stay away from explicit murder and bloodshed. Kids that age can’t handle it. Or if you must get gory, see if you can keep most of the bloodletting offstage. Even the Goosebumps books, which were spooky to the max, didn’t feature any onstage murder.

Of course, just because nobody’s getting killed doesn’t mean you can’t make things scary. Close calls, chases, betrayals and so forth will keep the fear factor going just fine. And your readers won’t miss the murder.

Find the safety in scariness

When I was a kid, I reveled in scary movies—heck, I even had a shelf-full of hand painted classic monsters like Wolf-Man and The Mummy. But I liked the movies best when they weren’t too scary. It’s the same thing for young readers today. There’s a limit to how much actual, pulse-pounding terror is appropriate for 8-12 year-olds.

That’s why, when I wrote The Curse of the Were-Hyena, I deliberately sought a balance between humor and chills. By leavening the scariness with jokes, I made it less threatening. Of course, the trick is to find that happy balance. Make it too jokey, and the creepiness is lost. Make it too scary, and your readers hide under the covers.

If you manage to pull off all three of these things, you just might have crafted a scary tale that keeps young readers glued to your pages. Whether they roll their eyes when they re-read it as adults is another matter entirely.

Read This If You Loved: Goosebumps (series) by RL Stine, Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones and Debbie Dadey

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The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Howling Good Giveaway!

Ten winners will receive a copy of Bruce Hale’s The Curse of the Were-Hyena. Four Grand Prize winners will receive The Curse of the Were-Hyena plus an advance reading copy of the second book in the series, Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! And as a bonus, Grand Prize winners will also get a signed photo of Bruce Hale disguised as a were-wolf! Click here to enter.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for hosting the tour and providing a copy for review!!**

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