Naughty Kitty! by Adam Stower
A follow up to Silly Doggy!, this book also features Lily and now a very large cat. From the end pages, readers will know that there is an animal loose from the zoo. Lily though is far too taken up with bringing her new kitten home. Her mother was sure that Kitty wouldn’t be any trouble at all. At first that was true, but when Lily left the kitten alone in the kitchen for just a moment, she returned to find it completely trashed. What Lily doesn’t know but the readers could see clearly was that the tiger that had escaped from the zoo was the one who made the mess. The same thing happened when Lily left Kitty alone in the living room. There is even a rug that is ruined with an accident of large proportions. Happily, Lily remains completely oblivious to the tiger and in the end Kitty gets the credit rather than the blame for what the tiger has done.
Stower’s humor is zingy and broad here. He doesn’t hold back on the visual jokes or on Lily’s reactions to the actually sedate little cat. Children will immediately get the humor of mistaken identity and will pay close attention to spot the tiger on the pages where Lily can’t seem to see him. The ending is completely satisfying, particularly because Lily continues to be oblivious to what is actually happening around her and readers will be surprised by a full view of the truth as well.
The art tells much of the story here with the narrative almost entirely from Lily’s perspective. The tiger can be spotted right before each disaster and right afterwards too. The illustrations are energetic and filled with action and the entire book reads like a cartoon episode.
Funny and a great read aloud, this book is sure to keep attention focused and kids giggling. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Orchard Books.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
The four Fletcher boys could not be more different from one another. There is the serious ten-year-old Eli who is starting a private school separate from his brothers for the first time and who just may have made a horrible decision changing schools. There is Sam, aged twelve, who loves sports and is popular at school but who will find himself stretching into new interests this year. There is Jax, also aged ten, who has a huge homework assignment that will have him talking to their new grumpy neighbor for help but only after he calms down from a number of things. Finally, there is Frog who is just starting kindergarten along with his imaginary friend and who may have a new imaginary friend named Ladybug. It all adds up to a wonderful read with lots of humor and one amazing family.
Filled with laughter, an angry neighbor, elaborate Halloween parties, soccer, hockey and plenty of pets, this book is sure to please middle grade readers. Add in the diverse backgrounds of the four boys in the family and their two dads and you have a book that celebrates diversity without taking itself too seriously. It’s the ideal mix of completely readable book with its diversity simply part of the story not the main point.
All of the boys as well as the two fathers are unique individuals with their own personal responses to crises and situations. Each chapter begins with a note from one character to another, usually funny and always showing their personality. Perhaps the best part of the book is that this family dynamic is clearly one of love but also filled with normal chaos and the daily strain of work, school, neighbors and friends. It reads like a modern classic.
I hope we get to read more of their misadventures in future books, because this is one family that I want to see much more of! Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from copy received from Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
Froodle by Antoinette Portis
Everyone knows that cats say “Meow” and dogs bark. The birds is the neighborhood all sand their specific song too. The little brown bird sang “Peep” every day, all seasons. Until one day, the little bird decided that she wanted to sing something else. Something silly! The big black crow did not think this was funny at all. The little brown bird tried to go back to singing just “Peep” again, but she just couldn’t stop the silly words from slipping out. Soon the silliness was spreading and the red bird started saying things too. Then Dove proved that there could be silly white birds too. The only one who would not be silly was the very serious Crow. But we all know that silliness is very contagious!
Clever, clever, clever. This book takes a very simple premise of one little bird being silly one day and wanting to do something unique and different, and then shows how one small change can have larger ripple effects on a community. The tone throughout is pure cheer and laughter. The words that all of the birds come up with are ridiculous and great fun to read aloud. Children will enjoy working these and other nonsense words into their day.
The illustrations for the book were done in pencil, charcoal and ink with the color added digitally. The result is a book with a traditional feel mixed with a modern spin. The colors are flat and bright, the textures give depth, and the birds themselves pop on the backgrounds.
Silly, funny and a delight to read aloud, this book is pure oobly snoobly fun. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Comics Squad: Recess!
Released July 8, 2014.
Join your favorite children’s graphic novel authors as they romp together in a celebration of recess! This graphic novel has been contributed to by authors like Jennifer and Matthew Holm, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Santat, Gene Luen Yang, and Raina Telgemeier. Favorite characters like Lunch Lady and Babymouse make an appearance in their own stories as well as appearing throughout the book with a little commentary. In other stories, new characters make their first appearance which will delight young fans.
It’s hard to be too enthusiastic about this title, since young readers are sure to adore it. The release in mid-summer is ideal since this will make great summer reading, though it will also be a great addition to any school library or classroom. Put together cleverly, the book has a nice flow to it and a brisk pace that will have even reluctant readers eagerly turning the pages.
Get multiple copies of this one, since it’s sure to be a hit! Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House and Edelweiss.
Naked! by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
A little boy streaks naked through his house, followed closely by his mother holding a towel. He leaves a trail of bubbles and puddles behind, shouting “I’m naked!” as he runs. He even manages to snag a cookie and eat it naked as his mother towels him off. Then he has a great idea! He could just dress this way all the time: at school, on the playground, dancing… But wait! Capes are cool too. So then he wears just a cape and manages to be mostly naked but also caped as he runs around. Finally, he catches a chill and agrees because he is so cold to put on pants, a top, even slippers, though he keeps the cape on. And it is off to bed, dressed and warm.
This book perfectly captures the joy of a young child in being entirely naked and running around. Parents will immediately recognize the stage and children will giggle along as the child in the book dreams of all of the places he can go naked. Perhaps best of all in the book is the mother’s response which is acceptance and then managing to get the little boy dressed without tears or tantrums. She respects his enthusiasm but also gets him dressed in the end.
Ohi’s illustrations are vibrant and joyous. She fills the page with the running little boy, moving across the page celebrating just how naked he is. The illustrations are cute, clear and large format, so they will work with a group. Beware though, reading this too a group of preschoolers could have wild results!
Silly, happy and great fun, this naked romp is one that fans of No, David! will enjoy. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
A movie director is trying to create a documentary about the Mighty Moose. You know, the ones that eat plants and drink from lakes. But instead what he gets is a moose who wants to be an astronaut. And his grandmother who wants to be a lacrosse goalie. And somehow a giraffe who wants to be a doctor is also brought into the movie! Then there is a grand plan to get the moose who wants to be an astronaut into space. No matter what the poor director does, no one pays him any attention just doing what they want to do. There are plenty of more twists along the way too in this hilarious picture book.
Morris writes with an ear for dialogue and yelling. The book reads aloud perfectly, the tones matching the fonts, the silliness reaching amazing heights. At first the book is serious with the mighty moose, but that lasts only for a page or two before it becomes pure farce, which will delight young listeners. They will also delight in the fact that the “adult” voice of the director is ignored for much more fun pursuits as the character join forces to launch the moose into space.
Lichtenheld’s illustrations add to the laughs as the characters stand up to the structure of the book and completely mess with the system. Lichtenheld plays with perspective, throws the characters bodily around, and adds plenty of motion to the page. This is one wild and silly book, a farcical festival.
Got silly kids? Get this book! Guaranteed giggles in no time at all. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Travis died five years ago. Now he’s alive again. But not the same and nothing else is the same either. Travis’ head is now attached to a different body, a healthy body, one not dying of cancer. You see, when Travis was dying of cancer, he and his parents took a huge risk and had his head severed from his body and frozen. Now Travis is one of two survivors of the cryogenic procedure and he has returned to the same home, the same parents, the same friends, but not the same life. His girlfriend is now engaged to someone else. His best friend who had admitted he was gay just before Travis died is now dating a girl and about to move in with her. His mother can’t look at him without crying. And Travis’ room which used to be his haven now is sterile and hotel-like. But Travis is the same except for his body. It was as if he closed his eyes and reopened them. So what is a guy to do? Well, he still has to finish high school, get his driver’s license and of course try to regain the girl. But nothing is simple when you are on a completely different timeframe than everyone else!
Whaley blends immense amounts of humor into his novel. Though Travis’ experience is unique, it also speaks to the universal experience of being a teen, of not fitting in, of making bad decisions, and yet of being vitally alive at the same time. Whaley also cleverly turns the trend of books about dying teens on its head (pun intended). This is a book about life but also deeply about loss, grief and death and how funny it can all be.
What is most surprising about this book is the honesty it has and that through its humor there are deep truths revealed. Whaley deals with the emotions of Travis’ return beautifully like in this scene on page 40 when he sees his best friend for the first time:
He let go for a second and wiped his face with the back of one sleeve before holding me by each shoulder and sort of just staring at me for a while with this expression that I’m still convinced no other person has ever had, a combination of shock, joy, pain, and terror. It was like I could see all his memories of me projected into the air between us, rushing and swirling around and enveloping us both in a nostalgic haze.
This book has tremendous heart and a strong sense of its absurdity. It has depth, humor and cool scars too. Pure teen reading perfection. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
This graphic novel memoir focuses on one idiotic idea that changes comic-creator Gownley’s life forever. At 13, Gownley was on top of the world. He was popular, getting great grades, and was top-scorer on the school basketball team. Then he got chicken pox and he had to miss the championship game. But that wasn’t the end of his bad luck, he followed the chicken pox with a bout of pneumonia and missed more school. Soon Jimmy wasn’t a basketball star and his grades were getting bad. Jimmy did have one thing going for him though, the dumbest idea ever! It was an idea that would make him money, get him popular again, find him a girlfriend, and even impress a very stern nun. And let me tell you, it takes one amazingly stupid idea to accomplish all that!
Gownley reveals how he became a cartoonist in this graphic novel. It is cleverly done with a strong story arc that keeps the entire book sturdily structured. Gownley has a wonderful self-deprecating humor that works particularly well in comic format. His humor is smart and very funny, often conveyed with ironic twists of eyebrows or sarcastic facial expressions. The book is a quick read thanks to the format but also to the fast pacing that will have readers happily turning page after page.
Get this into the hands of Smile! fans who will appreciate the humor, the honesty and the art. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from library copy.
Okay, Andy! by Maxwell Eaton III
The author of the Max and Pinky books returns with a new duo, Andy and Preston. Andy is an alligator and Preston is a young coyote. The two of them make an unlikely team but one that works incredibly well for humor. Preston often can’t figure out what is really going on. So when Andy is hunting a rabbit, Preston thinks it is a game of tag. In the next chapter, Preston wants to take every thing they find, though Andy holds onto a stick for himself. Andy is so distracted that he doesn’t see the cliff coming and then he lets loose his anger on Preston. Then it is up to Andy to make things right, if he can. In the final chapter, Andy is trying to sleep when Preston wants to have him guess what kind of animal noise Preston is making. This quickly descends into a merry chaos and then the book comes full circle back to the rabbit in a very satisfying ending.
This is a graphic novel perfect for beginning readers. Eaton tells the story in just a few words, letting the illustrations carry most of the story rather than the words. He uses repeating words too, making it even funnier and also making it easier for the youngest readers to decipher. Filled with silly action, the book does speak to the ins and outs of friendship. Eaton’s art is clear and clean, his thick black lines filled with simple colors. The result is a graphic novel that is simple, easy and cheerful.
A great pick for beginning readers, children will enjoy the graphic novel format and the humor. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Blue Apple Books.
Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Easter books can be so filled with yellow fluffy chicks, bright Easter eggs, and soft bunnies that the become more than a bit stale. Enter the Easter Cat, a character who offers exactly what was missing in Easter books: cats! Cat wants to be able to do what the Easter Bunny does and deliver chocolate himself. But he’s going to have to figure a lot of things out before he begins: what exactly will be deliver? How will he travel? What will he wear? All of those decisions wear him out so he decides to take his eighth nap of the day, after all, he is a cat. But then he learns that the Easter Bunny never naps at all. Are all of his plans ruined? Perhaps he just needs a little help from the famous Easter Bunny himself.
Underwood of The Quiet Book has created an uproariously funny book this time. Her Cat character doesn’t speak at all, instead the reader quizzes Cat on what exactly he is doing. Cat communicates through his expressions and holding up signs most of which have cartoon drawings on them outlining his plans. The words in the book take on the tone of a parent, making it a real delight to read aloud. The reader can go from cajoling to stern and back again.
Rueda’s illustrations carry much of the storytelling since Cat doesn’t speak. She manages to convey his emotions very clearly on his face and in his stance. Cat is a very enjoyable character with big plans that aren’t very well thought out. This book on the other hand, has illustrations and words that work together flawlessly.
With the humor of Melanie Watt or Elephant and Piggie, this picture book is sure to find an eager Easter audience. Ideal for perching in baskets, this book is good enough to share all year round. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.