Cat Jokes vs. Dog Jokes: A Read-From-Both-Sides Comic Book Author: David Lewman Illustrator: John McNamee Published: June 20, 2023 by Workman Publishing
Summary: In this silly, comic-style joke collection for kids, one side is packed with cartoons of dog jokes told by cats, and the other side stuffed with cat jokes told by dogs—for more than 200 jokes in all!
There are few rivalries across history that are quite as formidable as CATS vs. DOGS. In this fully illustrated joke book, they go head-to-head—with a twist or two that may give you…paws. Presented in tête-bêche format (read-from-both-sides), the first half of the book consists of cat jokes told by a recurring cast of dogs—What do you call an insect in a cat’s bathroom? A litterbug! But, flip the book over to start from the other side, and it becomes a book of dog jokes told by What’s the difference between kibble and a heavy mist? One is dog food, and the other is fog, dude! In the middle spread, the casts of cartoon dogs and cats come together for a midbook finale of, believe it or not, shared giggles, snorts, and guffaws. The comic-book-style illustrations throughout offer added layers of humor, funny visuals, and wisecracking characters who don’t just tell the jokes, but comment on and react to them, too.
Review: This book has been the center of our household, and although I always donate the books I receive for review to the local schools—it is going to take a lot of effort to pry this out of my kids’ hands! Not a day has gone by in the last several weeks that I haven’t heard a dog or a cat joke. My kids love the rivalry between the dog and the cat in this book. I asked my first grader which jokes were the funniest, and he said, “The cat jokes!” I was shocked because he loves dogs and asked him why he liked the cat jokes more. He replied, “Because the dog is telling the cat jokes, and he is so funny!” I recommend this book for classrooms—it will pull in all kinds of readers, and they won’t even realize the great vocabulary that they are gaining!
Teaching Tools for Navigation: I would use this book as a way to inspire conversations about writing for humor. Students could also create their own tête-bêche (read-from-both-sides) books!
Which jokes really resonated with you? What type of humor did they use?
Do you think the dog or the cat is funnier? What kinds of humor do each of them use?
What other funny jokes do you know?
Read This If You Love: Humor; Jokes, Animals
**Thank you to Ivanka at Workman for sending a copy of this book for an honest review!**
The Greatest Kid in the World
Author: John David Anderson
Published: May 9, 2023 by Walden Pond Press
Summary: From the beloved author of Posted comes the story of Zeke Stahls—a thoroughly average twelve-year-old who somehow finds himself in a competition to be named the World’s Greatest Kid.
Zeke Stahls is not the best kid in the world. Some days he struggles just to be good. He’d rather be pulling pranks than doing extra credit, and he’s too busy performing experiments on his little brother, Nate, or tormenting his older sister, Jackie, to volunteer for charity.
Which is why Zeke and his entire family are shocked when they receive word that he has been selected as a contestant in an online competition to find the World’s Greatest Kid.
Zeke has no idea how he was chosen for this, and he knows that measuring up to the other nominees–a saintly lineup of selfless, charming and talented do-gooders with photogenic smiles and hearts of gold–is hopeless. Still, with a $10,000 cash prize on the line, and Zeke’s mom struggling to hold the family together on her single-parent salary, he decides to give it his best shot.
As Zeke concocts various plots to show the world just how “great” he is, however, he finds himself wondering what that word even means, and who gets to decide. And what kind of kid he wants–and needs–to be.
About the Author: John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.
Review: There is more than one way to be great. This is a concept that kids have a hard time seeing (and adults!). For example, the kid who gets the highest grades may be great, but a kid who watches his siblings and takes care of his house while his adult works is also great. But what makes THE greatest? That is the question within John David Anderson’s newest book. Zeke knows he is not the greatest, but maybe he doesn’t know him self too well since he is chosen to be a finalist in the World’s Greatest Kid competition. Can a kid who causes trouble, does pranks, gets sent to the principals office, and torments his oldest sister be a great kid?
Just like every other Anderson book I’ve ever read (which is most of his!), I found the story to be unique, well written, and engaging. He always surprises me because his books differ so tremendously from each other! This time, what made the story for me was the characters. Everyone had flaws but everyone was loveable: Zeke reminds me of so many kids I know and have taught–wonderful and exhausting; his sister, Jasmine, was dealing with her own transitions much like most teenagers; Logan, the cameraman, was the surprise favorite character (read & you’ll see why!); Nate, Zeke’s brother, is just a ball of joy; and Zeke’s mom is one that any adult with empathize with, and I want to give her a hug! The story itself is quiet, but these characters are loud and will fill your heart as you read.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions:
Discussion questions and activities can be found in the publisher shared Educators’ Guide:
Piece by Piece: How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required) Author: David Aguilar & Farran Aguilar
Translator: Lawrence Schimel
Published October 25, 2022 by Amazon Crossing Kids
Summary: The heartfelt and funny memoir of a boy who built himself a prosthetic arm out of the world-famous toy bricks.
David Aguilar was born missing part of one arm, a small detail that seemed to define his life and limit people’s ideas of who he was and who he could be. But in this funny and heartfelt memoir, David proves that he can throw out the rulebook and people’s expectations and maybe even make a difference in the world—and all with a sense of humor. At only nine years old, David built his first prosthesis from LEGO bricks, and since then he hasn’t stopped creating and thinking about how his inventions, born from a passion for building things, could fuel change and help others.
With a voice full of humor and heart, David tells his powerful story, of family and friendship, of heartbreak and loss, and ultimately of triumph and success, as he continues to dream big and build a life and a better world—piece by piece.
“Humorous and uplifting…While readers needn’t be LEGO fans to admire David’s ingenuity, fellow builders may be inspired to dream up their own inventions.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will cheer for Aguilar and relate to him as he shares conversational stories about growing up, playing sports, and struggling with school. Family is at the heart of his story, and the endless support and advocacy of his parents, in particular, make this a sweet and uplifting story. Young readers will identify with this creative young person and will question society’s definition of “normal.” —School Library Journal
About the Authors:
David Aguilar and his father, Ferran Aguilar, are from Andorra, in Europe. David was born missing part of one arm. At the age of nine, he designed his first prosthesis with LEGO bricks, and in high school he built the next generation, which he named the MK-1. David’s father encouraged him to make a video about his prosthesis and the huge role that LEGOs played in his life, and posted it on social media, where it went viral and changed both of their lives. In addition to telling his story in this book, David is also the protagonist of the Spanish documentary Mr. Hand Solo, which won the award for best documentary at the Boston Science Fiction Film festival. David is currently developing his own brand, Hand Solo, which will aim to benefit various organizations for the disabled and fight against the stigma of “diff-ability,” as he calls it. Follow David and Ferran on Twitter @Handsolooficial and @AguilarFerran.
Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author who writes in both Spanish and English, with more than one hundred books to his credit. He is also a prolific literary translator, into English and into Spanish. His translated books include Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats; George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy; and Some Days, written and illustrated by María Wernicke; among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain. Follow him on Twitter @lawrenceschimel.
Review:This memoir about David’s early life growing up with one arm and overcoming everything that others, and sometimes himself, thought he couldn’t do is not only a great read, but it is hilarious too. It is an extra plus that this book was a memoir, written by David, as it gave true insight and his voice was a pleasure!
As you read, you will enter into David’s family and get to know all who love him and help him navigate our able bodied-centered world. He tells his story with grace and humor. The anecdotes of his life add a deeper connection from reader to David and by the end you truly feel like you know him.
On top of that, David is a fantastic engineer, inventor, and imagineer! Anyone reading will be so fascinated with what he builds and accomplishes,
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be a great addition to any memoir text set or lit circle set. It also will find its place in public, school, and classroom libraries.
Who in David’s younger life do you think best helped him see that he was not at a disadvantage in life?
If David didn’t want a prosthetic arm, why did he build one out of LEGO?
What does David’s story teach you about assumptions of people?
How do you think David’s humor and positive outlook on life helped him navigate life and succeed as he has?
Why do you think David decided to co-write this book with his dad?
Of David’s accomplishments, which do you find the most impressive?
Why do you think David decided to tell his story?
One day, many years later, as I was leaving school, one of my classmates saw me fiddling with the car keys.
“You drive?” he asked me, surprised.
“Um . . .” I was caught unaware, because what was so strange about my driving? “Yeah, of course, tío. I repeated a year. I’m eighteen already. I got my license over the break.”
More than clarifying things, I seemed to confuse him even more. He wrinkled his brow so much I thought his forehead might cave in. Only then did I begin to realize
what was going through his head.
It wasn’t long before he verbalized it: “But . . . how do you drive?” His gaze indicated my missing arm.
I smiled. By then I already had an answer for everything. “With my hand, of course!” I said, raising my left arm.
“But how do you shift gears?”
I smiled even more. “With my mouth!”
He was flabbergasted, and I got into the car. I turned on the ignition and pulled out, leaving him there with his mouth open. Did he really not know that automatic cars
exist, without any need to shift gears? But no, I knew, as I had known my whole life, that what was really difficult to know—and especially to understand—is how someone
who is not like you can do the same things you can.
I know this very well, believe me, because this was exactly my parents’ challenge. And also mine. It was for a long time. I don’t blame people or myself. Speaking clearly, what happens is that there is no one to blame: there is just ignorance, and prejudices, and loneliness. Dark nights, entire afternoons filled with worry. How would David get
ahead? What would become of him?
Read This If You Love: Memoirs
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
The Little Bad Book 2: Even More Dangerous
Author and Illustrator: Magnus Myst
Published October 11, 2022 by Delacorte Press
Summary: In this second book in the Little Bad Book interactive series, young readers will be dared to solve tricky puzzles and funny riddles and to become part of the plot in eerily funny stories in order to reveal the Little Bad Book’s secret!
HEY, YOU! PSSST You might not believe this, but I’ve discovered the biggest secret in the world. Yes, honestly! Should I tell you? Okay. Just be careful! It will be the scariest thing you’ve ever read! I hope you can take it. Can you I bet you can. You’re brave, aren’t you? Do you dare to read me? Come on–do it–read me!
You are the lucky reader who can discover the secret the little bad book is willing to share. The puzzles and riddles will challenge you, but it is definitely worth it! Go ahead and take a chance! You are the baddest one there is!
Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This interactive book enraptured both of my children (ages 6 and 9). The book breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader. I particularly appreciated the ways in which the book treats the reader as smart, capable people with agency. It also has that mild element of horror that really captures kids’ attention. This is a book that will be well-loved by the most avid readers and will hook readers who don’t typically fall in love with books. It’s extremely accessible. As a parent and teacher, I particularly loved how it tricks kids into math, reading comprehension, and logic puzzles. I was hooked (or tricked), as well. 🙂
Read This If You Love: Interactive activity books filled with fun and educational activities
**Thank you to Cate from Nicole Banholzer Public Relations for providing copies for review!**
It’s Not the Three Little Pigs Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Published November 1st, 2022 by Two Lions
Summary: Meet the three (ahem—four!) little pigs as they convince the narrator to tell a slightly different version of their fairy tale:
First there’s Alan, the one pig in the bunch who is actually a builder. He’s got a BIG problem with building a home out of flimsy straw. Next there’s Alfred, who wants to be an actor and wouldn’t dream of getting his hands dirty. Then we have Alvin, whose dream is to be . . . a pumpkin. Last but not least is Alison, the fourth pig who is ready to bring some flair to this story, if only she can get the narrator to agree to a few changes. . . . And what about that wolf?
Grab your jet-packs and get ready for this rollicking retelling of the popular tale.
“Those who love to make up their own stories will be inspired, and readers who march to the beats of their own drums will be delighted. Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Creators:
Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go―so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including My Pet Feet, illustrated by Billy Yong; the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on social media:
Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Hey, You’re Not Santa!, written by Ethan T. Berlin; Goldibooks and the Wee Bear, written by Troy Wilson; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairy Tale books, written by Josh Funk, among other titles. He lives in Texas with his partner and their three dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter@edwardiantaylor.
Kellee’s Review: I just find the concept of these books so clever; all of them! The breaking of the third wall between narrator and characters just makes them so funny, and I love that the characters go against the narrator. Often times through this exchange, the author is able to teach both the narrator and the reader lessons about assumptions, in this case when it came to the wolf. Other times, the characters just go silly which is also quite fun to read. This time the silliness comes in hot air balloons and jet packs! And, as a literacy teacher, I particularly loved the two literacy loving pigs: Alison, the storyteller, and Alfred, the scriptwriter and star.
Trent’s Review:I liked this new book in the series because it is pretty much the opposite of the original three little pigs which adds a lot of action and surprises. I like that at the end of the story they’re actually on a stage and performing the tale because the set up for this was all through the book (and most of the other characters from the It’s Not books were in the audience!). The most surprising part of the story for me was that there was a fourth pig, and that makes it fit even more with the title because there is not three but four. I also like that the fourth pig is a girl and a storyteller. I was also surprised that the big bad wolf was a salesman trying to sell automatic vacuums because you assume usually that wolves are not nice in fairy tales, so this teaches the reader that not all things you assume are bad actually are bad. Josh Funk books are funny and questy, and this one was, too; I always like them! I like all of the picture books that Josh has written.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a perfect mentor text for rewriting a fairy tale. Students can read the different books in the It’s Not series to see all of the creators’ examples of their factured fairy tales then they can pick their own to redo. First they would read the original fairy tale, determine how they were going to change it up, and write their own version of the fairy tale. Remind them to add some surprising elements, lessons, and silliness, just like Josh Funk.
For an enrichment activity, they could take their fairy tale and turn it into a play like Alfred did!
What was the most surprising part of the story for you?
Why are different speech bubbles written in different font colors?
How did you assume the different pigs’ personalities would be like? How is that the same/different than the book?
How does the author use the narrator differently than in most books?
Were there any vocabulary words you didn’t know? Were you able to determine the meaning from the context?
In addition to Cinderella’s fairy godmother, what other fairy tale creatures did you notice in the background of this book?
Read This If You Love: Fractured Fairy Tale Picture Books
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
Summary: Squeakers, butt puffs, trumpets and “the destroyer”. Celebrate farts in all their hilarious, honking glory!
Con-fart-ulations! You’ve found the book that confirms your fine appreciation for the fact that nothings funnier than a little pfffftt from someone’s butt. Cheerfully over-the-top, packed with activities, and grounded in the science of flatulence, What a Blast! Is a trip through the body’s digestive system to explore the whys, hows, and wherefores of farting. You’ll discover the fartiest food in the world, meet infamous farters from history, learn just what to say if you fart in public—“Yeah, you heard me!—and so much more!
Have fun with farts!
Solve the question of who farted?
Discover your gastrological sign.
Play free the fart through an intestinal maze.
Learn how to make elbow farts, hand farts, and armpit farts.
Throw a farty party.
And get creative with funny fill-in stories, like a fart to remember
Ricki’s Review: I should really get my three sons to review this book. They have had such a blast (pun intended) doing the workbook. Parents and teachers, if you want to get kids excited about reading and writing, this book will do it. I can’t tell you how many giggles this book has brought our family. I have to admit that I even giggled behind my hand. I can’t recommend this workbook highly enough—it is cleverly crafted and full of amazing reading and writing opportunities for kids. It has open-ended questions, quizzes, brackets, puzzles, games, etc.
**Thank you to Claire and Ivanka from Workman for providing a copy for review**
My Pet Feet Author: Josh Funk Illustrator: Billy Yong Anticipated Publication: August 23, 2022 by Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Summary: When the letter R suddenly vanishes, a whole town goes upside-down in this side-splitting picture book of alphabet chaos that’s Can I Be Your Dog? meets P Is for Pterodactyl.
A little girl wakes up one day to find that R, a vital piece of the alphabet, has vanished! Suddenly, she has pet feet instead of a ferret. Flocks of cows replace crows flying in the sky. Giant shoes (not shores!) live on the sandy beaches of her town.
What could have happened to the eighteenth letter of the alphabet? Did it get lost—or stolen? One way or another, the town needs to be saved!
When Trent first read this book, he said (and I quote), “This book should win all the awards! Not just now but forever!” Because of how much he loved the book, we decided to let him and Henry chat about and review the book for us!
Our 8-Year-Olds Chat About the Book:
Henry: Did you notice on the background on the first page that it said “fist place” instead of “first place”? That was so funny!
Trent: Hahahaha! Fist place! Hahahaha! What do you think will happen next because the bees are taking the Zs?
Henry: I would say that…hmm… I don’t know. I think the bees will just be quiet and will say Zs. What do you think?
Henry: Have you seen the mice? Have you seen the mice on most of the pages? There’s a little mouse holding a donut on the pages. I love that! Why do you think they did that?
Trent: I didn’t notice that. Oh look at that! I think they are actually rats.
Henry: Yah! Rats without the Rs.
Trent: They are taking the donuts at the bake shop! What are three words without Rs and what would they say?
Henry: Hmm….[looking around the room] Roar would be oa! Hahahahaha! Grown would be gown! Growl would be gowl! Hahaha! Those are so funny!
Trent: In the book, the doo is the door. The cows are the crows. The cane is the crane.
Henry: Oh. You meant from the book! Hahaha! I just picked words!
Trent: Well we are talking about the book, silly.
Henry: Reading would be eading, like eating. Isn’t that funny?
Henry’s little brother: I love this book!
Henry: The go-carts are go-cats! The feet is ferret! The fist is first! What do you think another good letter missing book would be, like this one, that is just as funny as this one?
Trent: But we are talking about this book!
Henry: I know, but I am talking about how this book is funny and thinking about other ones Josh Funk could make.
Trent: E would be good!
Henry: Oh nice! Like “see” would be “ssssss,” hahaha! I like that. Good one, Trent. “Fled” would be “fld.”
Trent: Oh! Compare the spreads on pages 8 and 20. What is the same and what is different? Bake shop, brake shop. That stuff. I like these ones. Taco caves! What do you think taco caves is?
Henry: Oh! Ha! I don’t know! I don’t know! It sounds so funny!
Trent: It’s taco cravers, I think. If you look at the toon town closely inside the brake shop sign, you see posters. And then they are actually different, too.
Henry: Oh!! Taco cravers! Toon Town. Oh! Tires on Brake Shop! I love this book. Oh! Instead of Brake Shop, it is Bake Shop, Trent! We also fix ties instead of tires, it says. Cool! Haha.
Trent: What could the sequel be called with the Zs? It could be My Pet Zzzs.
Henry: Instead of Zzzs for sleeping, it would just say NOTHING! Ha! Why do you think the Bs are taking the Zs away?
Trent: I already asked you that question. Haha!
Henry: On the final page, page 20, in the corner, near Pam’s Bake Shop, the rats are finally eating the donut. Haha! It’s cute. There’s a dog on top, too!
Trent: Oh yah! I see it!
Henry: On page 15, in the left top corner, there is a shoe!
Trent: I know. The sea shore. Shoe, shore. And the pie is the pier.
Henry: Oh yah!
Trent: Josh Funk told me that the illustrator and him didn’t meet before, and there are jokes in the illustration that he didn’t write. Henry, go to the butt page! The gassy field! Page 13!
Henry: Oh, hahahaha! I love this page. Did Josh Funk put that in?
Trent: I think that the illustrator put that in.
Henry: What is your favorite part about the book?
Trent: I like the gassy field the best.
Henry: Hahahaha! I like how they take out the Rs. And I like the gassy fields. And I like the big, giant cow poop. On page 9, they are chasing the poop. And it says “town hall” and it has the poop in front of it.
Trent: It’s the door. It’s supposed to be the door!
Henry: On page 10, if you look in the corner, the door or doo is even bigger.
Trent: Hahahah poop. Hahaha poop.
Henry: What would you rate this book from 1 to 10?
Trent: 10! 10! 10! It was a really good book.
Henry: Same! I rate it a 10, too! I love the crane. The cane!
Trent: Yah, the cane! I like the cane, too. And I like the cows.
Henry: What kind of kids do you think would like to read this book?
Trent: Kindergarten to third, like us.
Henry: Yah, and fourth grade, too. And kids who like potty talk like me. And words.
Trent: Kids who like funny things would really like this book.
Parent Perspective:Not only does this book allow our kids to play with words, they maintained a long conversation about the book without parent prompts. It offered them so much to talk about. In particular, they loved the humor. It made them laugh, and it made them think about different word combinations. This book pushed our kids as readers because they had to pause and consider where the Rs were missing.
We loved this book and think it would be a wonderful addition to classrooms. Although our kids were limited to their own age group, we think readers of all ages would find great joy in the play on words in this book.