Humorous Books

This book could have been written about many of the young men who attend our school. We have many students with a great sense of humor.  Sometimes that sense of humor gets them into trouble.  Joey is a prankster.  He is constantly dreaming up practiacal jokes and schemes.  Rusty on the other hand is a bit more reserved but goes along with Joey’s ideas (when he gets over the shock of them.)  Rusty and Joey  keep the truth of their adventures secret with a handshake and a “swear to howdy” promise. 

Besides the pranks, Rusty and Joey share other situations.  Both boys have sisters they find difficult.  The boys have their way of getting revenge for how the sisters act.  How a  frog got in a sisters underwear drawer is just one of the secrets the boys keep. But, on a more serious side, Joey has a father who is more than a little difficult.  Throughout the book, Joey struggles with understanding the relationship between Rusty and his dad. 

When Joey comes up with a splendid prank, Rusty follows his lead and soon both boys find themselves living with tragic results.  The secret is too important to be told and but too devestasting to hide.  Now, there is a true test of friendship.  What would a friend do to help?

I laughed out loud at the antics of Joey and Rusty for about three fourths of this book.  I especially liked the bullfrog.  The last quarter of the book I was spellbound as the boys worked out their difficulties.  Wendelin Van Draanen (of the Sammy Keys series) did an excellent job of letting the characters tell the story without preaching or talking down to young adults.  This book will go on my list of favorites to give to students when they need a good book.    Although the characters are thirteen, I think even high school students would enjoy and appreciate this book.  I would recommend it for any student 12 or older.

Stuart has just moved to a new town and EVERYTHING is going wrong.  His box of treasure were mistaken for trash, he has no friends, and school starts in three days.  What if he is the shortest kid in his class?  What if he has no friends?  This is all TOO much for Stuart… he needs an adventure to get his mind off his troubles.  Where can you find an adventure?  Stuart decides that all the super heroes have adventures because they are wearing a cape.  Stuart needs a cape.  Stuart staples 100 ties together and the adventures begin! 

I love the understated humor in this book.  I love Stuart.  I want a cape made of ties!  Well done, Mrs. Pennypacker!  Sara Pennypacker is also the author of the Clementine books. Clementine is a little girl with a lot of spunk.  Clementine and Stuart would be great friends. 

The Stuart books and the Clementine books are great books for the second and third graders who need to move beyond the first start easy books but they are not difficult.  There are engaging illustrations that are important to the story line.  I would love to see more from Sara Pennypacker.  I hope she is working on some sequels with both characters.

Newbery Honor Book

Newbery Honor Book


WARNING:  This book is laugh out-loud funny.  Students, if you plan to read The Wednesday Wars while others are working or taking tests, think again!  You might find yourself in big trouble!
Holling Hoodhood doesn’t know what hit him.  For some unknown reason, his seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, has demanded he meet with her every Wednesday after school.  The only reason Holling can come up with to explain this extreme punishment is that Mrs. Baker HATES him. 
No one in his family has any explanation (or sympathy) for his situation.  Mom can only say that Mrs. Baker is a nice lady; Dad’s only advice if for Holling NOT to upset her.  Dad’s architecture firm is bidding on The Baker’s Sporting Emporium.   Holling even lowers himself to ask his sister for help.  All he gets from her is a bit of sarcasm (and the advise to move to California.) 
And so, the Wednesday wars begin.  Holling is determined to endure (for the sake of the family business he may one day inherit.) Mrs. Baker, for her part, is determined to keep Holling busy.  First, he is made to clean the classroom.  When that doesn’t work out too well, Mrs. Baker changes tactics.  Now, she will kill him with Shakespeare! 
Holling Hoodhood is truly a like-able character.  Not that he doesn’t get into his share of trouble in his escapades.  Mrs. Baker is full of surprises too.  Just when you think you know her, she comes up with some surprises all her own.  Holling’s lively sense of humor, the witty dialogue and all the mishaps along the way make this one book that you will keep you laughing all the way to the end. 
Beyond the humor, this book tackles some important issues.  Set in the era of the Vietnam war, the peace marches, and flower children, these important issues find a way to  reach in and touch the innocence of the community and Holling’s family. 

For Eben McAllister, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence world.  He is fascinated with the seven wonders of the world and spends his time wishing to be some place exciting… anywhere but in Sassafras Springs.

Eben’s Pa, a wise man, gives his son a challenge; find seven Wonders in Sassafras Springs.  If Eben is able to find seven things in seven days Pa will buy him a ticket to see some relatives living in the Colorado mountains. 

So the scene is set for adventure!  Not everyone likes a kid coming around asking questions.   Eben  soon finds himself saddled with a annoying pest who wants to follow him as he tries to find Wonders.  Eben does his best to ditch the Rae Ellen the pest, but she stays hot on his trail with a “Wonderful” of her own to show him.

My favorite part of the story happens when tough Coogie Jackson, sends for Eben to show him an outhouse and tell him about a Wonder.  Could an outhouse in the middle of nowhere be a wonder?  Was it a trick?  Eben has little time to decide if he believes the story before Coogie is sending him inside to get the proof neded to verify the story. 

This is a delightful story full of rich country language and descriptions.  The stories Eben gathers and the Wonders he finds give him a new perspective for seeing common things.  This story is perfect for reading aloud. 


You can read about the author Betty G. Birney.

King Theophilus may be able to run a country, but he seems to have no clue how to handle his daughter, Princess Penelope.   Princess Penelope has been spoiled ROTTEN by the king, with a little help from the queen.  If things don’t go her way Penelope usually screams and demands everyone give her what she wants. 

For her eighth birthday, the spoiled princess has decided she wants a pig.  Of course she gets one. 

After looking at all the pigs in the kingdom, Penelope selects Lollipop as her birthday present.  This pig also comes complete with a trainer, named Johnny Skinner, who had taught his pet pig to sit and stand. 

Now, the princess is demanding that Lollipop live in the palace.  The queen’s response was understandable to every mom alive.  “If the pig moves in… I move out!”  

In conversations with his pig, Johnny gets right to the heart of Penelope’s terrible behavior. 

“She is a spoiled child.  But in a way it is not her fault. It is the fault of her mom and dad for letting her have everything she wants.  She was quite nice, wasn’t she when we were eating the cake, don’t you think?”

Lollipop grunted.

“But then the moment she couldn’t get her own way, she flew off the handle didn’t she?”

Lollipop grunted again.

I have been quite successful at training you,” Johnny Skinner said to the pig. ” I wonder if I could train her?”

Page 34

And so, two determined children  and a pig begin a relationship full of fun and laughter along with some serious lessons.  Johnny Skinner uses Lollipop to help teach Penelope to speak calmly and think less about herself and more about others.  Johnny is determined to train Penelope and the princess is determined to have a pig living INSIDE the palace. 

This book by Dick King-Smith is fun to read and entertains the young and the old.  Students in grades three would not be too young to read the book alone ( Toward the end of the year, most second graders could read it alone too.)  But, this book begs to be read aloud *, enjoyed together and discussed.  If you have an child between the ages of 4 and 10 this would be just the right book for a bedtime chapter ( or two) a night. 

The delightful pencil drawings scattered thoughtout the book bring more fun to the story.


* A note about reading aloud.  This site has some very interesting information concerning parents reading aloud at home.

One of our students reviewed Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank You Notes for Flamingnet. (See the Blogroll)  She liked the book and gave it a favorable review.  I thought I would pick up another one of the author’s books for our library. 

by Peggy Gifford

by Peggy Gifford

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little

Moxy, is the typical busy nine year old. Ok, maybe a little busier than most..(think perpetual motion and non-stop talking ) It is the LAST day of summer vacation and she has to read Stuart Little before tomorrow.  She has had all summer to do it but she never got around to it.  The day before school starts she is still procrastinating.  Her mother (bless her weary soul) has had it!  Moxy will stay in her room and read the book.  But, when her mother leaves to run errands Moxy has a brilliant idea… or so she thought. 

Moxy makes me tired.  She is constantly thinking, constantly planning, and always getting herself into trouble.  She is very realistic drama queen! I like the photos that accompany the text and the chapter titles.  I especially like the ones where the title is longer than the chapter. 



Chapter Seven:
In Which Moxy’s Mother says No


That is it… the whole chapter.  Short and concise.  I do appreciate the fact that Moxy’s Mother uses wisdom in dealing with her errant daughter.  There are consequences to Moxy’s delay in doing her homework.  That makes me smile.  There is hope for Moxy to learn better habits.

I think this will be a good choice for students who are ready to move on from first chapter books and a fun, quick read for older elementary students.

by Gordon Korman

by Gordon Korman

Capricorn (Cap) is being thrown to the sharks.  Not literally, but almost!  He is going to school for the first time ever as an eighth grader. He does not know what a television is, doesn’t know why he has a locker, and why he can’t legally drive.  Cap has been home schooled by his grandmother who has somehow managed to stay permanently lodged in the sixties.  She has taught him the philosophies of freedom and a hatred of capitalism and government but she neglected to teach him the skills that will help him survive eighth grade; how to detect spitballs, and know when someone is playing him for a fool.




    I enjoyed this book.  I was rooting for Capricorn as he endured the pressures of a new situation.  In fact I was more concerned about the situations than Cap was.  He did not even know enough to worried or upset about the situations.  Most of the characters were believable except the principal.  The principal was more of a fool than any principal I have ever encountered.  What principal gives signed checks to an eight grader even if he has to be out of town?  Another very unbelievable plot problem revolved around everyone being invited to tie dye their clothing with the 8th grade president.  It is a BIG school.  The art room would not hold all the students at one time.  If you have ever been in a real school the glaring “wrongness” of it does not sit right.  Even though I had to gloss over this part of the plot I was impressed with fellow outsider Hugh Winkleman.  At first he appreciated Cap for helping him to move up the ladder of social status.  Finally, he is not the student picked on the most.  Hugh is able to sit through lunch without getting hit by spitballs.  Later, he realizes he likes Cap for who he is and still appreciates that he is not being pestered as much this year.  When Cap becomes a school hero Hugh teams up with the bully but Hugh’s motive is to help Cap. 

            This book is told through each of the main character’s voices.  Each chapter title is a person’s name and the chapter is told through their point of view.  I think middle school students will find it funny and enlightening.  The realities of wedgies and spitballs will resonant with most readers while they are given some general insights into the reasons some students bully others.