Tag Archives: humor

The Magnificent 12: The Trap by Michael Grant

In the second volume of The Magnificent 12 series, Michael Grant once again takes us on a wild ride around the world. Mack, Stephen and Jarrah are on their way to China to pick up the next member of the 12, but of course they encounter everything from scary little men made of stinky blue cheese to dragons, to giant grasshoppers and just plain old giants. With the clock ticking down to the Pale Queen’s release, will Mack be able to find the rest of the 12 in time to save the world from impending doom?

I wasn’t as enamored with this second book. The humor that drew me into the The Call was over the top and contrived in The Trap. I also think that the numerous pop culture references will date this book too quickly. Overall, though, I’d still recommend this series to readers who like humor and adventure.

 
The Magnificent 12:  The Trap by Michael Grant
Juvenile fiction | 294 pages | August 2011 | Katherine Tegen Books | 0061833681 | Library copy

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The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin

J. J. Tully is a retired search-and-rescue dog who’s living out his glory days on his trainer’s farm.  Compared to the excitement and danger of his previous job, farm life can be rather boring.  When a wacky chicken named Millicent (Moosh) shows up in the doghouse doorway needing J. J.’s help to find her two missing chicks, Poppy and Sweetie, he quickly negotiates cheeseburger payment and is on the case.

The trouble with chickens, J. J. soon realizes, is that they’re hard to read.  And they get in the way.  And they possibly know more than they say they know when they know it.  If J. J. is going to have any chance of rescuing Poppy and Sweetie from the evil house dog, Vince the Funnel, he needs all the information…and someone’s not talking. 

From the author that brought us Click Clack Moo:  Cows That Type, Bounce, and Wiggle, comes a new series for young readers.  The Trouble with Chickens:  A J. J. Tully Mystery is Doreen Cronin’s first venture into chapter books.   This book has been getting a lot of love around the kidlitosphere and I can see why:  short sentence structure, a mix of familiar and new vocabulary, dead-pan humor, vivid descriptions and a fast-paced plot make this a good choice for a read-alone or read-alouds.     However, I felt the shift between narrators was a little awkward at first and that I didn’t have those laugh-out-loud funny moments others were raving about.  I really, REALLY wanted to love this book, but for whatever reason the elements didn’t come together for me.  Still, I can see the appeal for many readers in The Trouble with Chickens and would have no problem recommending it.

See other reviews at A Patchwork of Books and Bookends.

The Trouble with Chickens:  A J. J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Juvenile Fiction | 128 pages | Balzer & Bray | March 2011 | 0061215325 | Library copy

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Picture Book Friday

Friday seemed to come around quickly this week, which I’m sure everyone will agree is a very good thing. I have 3 fun books to share today.  They’re great for storytime and I’ve used them with a ton of success at our school outreaches.

That’s Not Funny by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

When a mischievous Hyena decides to place a banana peel on his friend Giraffe’s path, a hilarious chain of events ensues.  Giraffe skids into a tree, knocking a coconut on Hippo’s head, who steps on Snake, who bites Ostrich…and, well, you get the picture.  Through it all Hyena just laughs and laughs at his friend’s misfortunes.  He’s so busy laughing that he forgets all about the banana peel, which is now in his path.  Let’s just say Hyena gets what he deserves…and elephant poo is involved.  The kids were rolling on the floor by the end of this book.

That’s Not Funny by Jeanne Willis
Picture Book | 32 pages | September 2010 | Andersen Press | 0761364455 | Library copy

When A Monster is Born by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Nick Sharratt

“When a monster is born, there are two possibilities – either it’s a faraway-in-the-forests monster, or … it’s an under-your-bed monster.”  And so begins a choose-your-own-adventure-esque type of story about what would happen if you took your monster to school, it eats the principal, then walks out through the wall, meets a kitchen-girl, who turns into a monster and they fall in love and has a little monster baby.  I love how the kids shriek “EWWWWWW”  when the monsters fall in love.  Of course, I make it sound as gushy and romantic as possible, which makes them shriek even louder.

When a Monster is Born by Sean Taylor
Picture Book | 32 pages | March 2007 | Roaring Book Press | 9781596432543 | Library copy

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is a terrible monster.  He can’t seem to scare anyone.  One day, he decides he’ll find the wimpiest kid out there and scare the tuna salad out of him.  After much research, Leonardo narrows it down to one pathetic little boy named Sam.  Leonardo gave it all he’s got and Sam begins to cry.  Finally!  Success!  Leonardo isn’t such a terrible monster after all!  But Sam quickly bursts his bubble by blurting out a long and very whiny list of reasons as to why he is crying, none of which has anything to with being scared by Leonardo.  The monster is disappointed at first, but is cheered by the idea that perhaps instead of terrible monster, he could try being a really good friend.  Mo Willems does it again with a simple, humorous tale that kids love every time they hear it.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Picture Book | 48 pages | August 2005 | Hyperion | 9780786852949 | Library copy

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So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow

Ari Abramson’s life thus far has been lived in the shadows.  The shadow of his super popular, ultra cool best friend Jonas Fein, the shadow of his parents ambitions for him to attend Brandeis University upon graduation, the shadow of…non-existence.  But his junior year at Gittleman, a Jewish day school in North Jersey, is going to be different.  This year he has a Plan to get noticed.

The Plan is to start a band.  What quicker way is there from nobody to superstar?  After some negotiation and conniving, the Tribe is born.  There’s Jonas, lead singer and bassist and provider of charm;  Yossi, the uber religious nerd drummer; Reena, Yossi’s younger indie sister on back-up vocals; and of course, Ari, lead guitarist and (hopefully) songwriter extraordinaire. Despite their differences and a few minor setbacks, this definitely-not-Motley crew has potential.  Ari soon finds himself navigating the tricky waters of popularity.  In this alternate universe, Ari gets noticed by long-time crush, Sari; becomes an idol to little brother, Ben; and must deal with mounting tension in his friendship with Jonas.  So punk rock?  Maybe…not.

In this prose/graphic novel blend, we follow the Tribe’s rise to high school stardom and Ari’s journey to self-discovery.  So Punk Rock is a quirky, humorous read with a realistic voice, even if that meant at times the prose is awkward and sentence structure is non-existent.  I would have no trouble recommending it to a reluctant reader.

(I read this for the Garden State Teen Book Awards 2012 ballot and even though it was a fun read, I’m not sure it ranks among other stronger works of literature.)

So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow
Young Adult | 264 pages | July 2009 | Flux | 0738714712 | Library copy

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Joey Fly, Private Eye in Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds (2009)

“Life in the bug city.  It ain’t easy” (p. 7)

 Have you ever had one of those days?  When your brand new assistant doesn’t have the first clue about collecting evidence, bungles eyewitness interviews and nothing generally goes right?  Joey Fly, Private Eye is having one of those days.  But he’s determined not to let little things like a clumsy assistant and getting fired stand in his way of solving the case of the missing diamond pencil case for the beautiful swallowtail butterfly, Delilah.  As Fly gets closer to the truth, something is fishy, and it’s not just the smell of scorpion aftershave.  Will he be able to solve the case?

 I don’t normally read graphic novels but I really loved Joey Fly.  I was amused by Reynolds’ use of what Booklist calls “this noir-type story filled with classic detective dialogue and swarms of insect humor.”  The art is clean and stays firmly within its designated boxes, which I appreciate because it helps me follow the story better.  I’m not a big fan of more cluttered pages with a lot happening, like The Secret Science Alliance.  My only concern would be for the audience-will they appreciate the element of film noir?  Or will it be lost on them?

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