Tag: humor

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad (InfoSoup)

Inge arrives at the small island town of Bornholm, Denmark via boat. She hasn’t eaten since the morning of the day before, thanks to missing her mother and the fish guts on the boat. Inge has never met her grandmother before, but now the two of them will be living together at her small farm. Inge brings with her plenty of laughter and trouble, but her grandmother does not seem amused by any of it. Over and over again, Inge gets into mischief, whether it is in a kicking contest with the donkey, learning how to walk in wooden shoes, or insisting that in 1911, girls can play on the grass at school too. Inge’s vibrant personality never stays down for long, but can this small island community survive her?

This book is pure silly and shimmering perfection. Inge is a marvelous protagonist, filled with life and the ability to get into great trouble even on a small farm on a tiny island. Inge is the real reason this book works so well, but so is her grandmother who proves the perfect foil for the rambunctious child. While I don’t want to spoil the book, it is the grandmother’s reaction to Inge that makes this book so special by the end.

The setting of the small Danish island also plays a huge role in the book. Set in 1911, the strict community rules rub Inge entirely the wrong way. Though some areas are moving in a more modern way, the small town keeps things traditional. With a strong focus on food, children will enjoy the changing menagerie of gingerbread creatures, the question of how thick a piece of cake should be, and the way that the grandmother feeds Inge with a beautiful determination held together by lots of cream.

A gem of a book, this would make a great read aloud for a classroom thanks to the large amounts of guffaw-level humor throughout as well as a winning young female protagonist. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang

Is Mommy by Victoria Chang

Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang, illustrated by Marla Frazee (InfoSoup)

Told in a question and answer format, this picture book embraces the different ways that toddlers view their mothers. The book asks if their mother is tall or short. Short! Is she nice or mean, well the book shows her both ways and why the toddler sees her as mean. The same for pretty and ugly, which is how she seems when she wakes up in the morning. The book goes on to say mommy is boring and old too. But the children love her just the same.

Seeing the reviews on GoodReads, this book is clearly not for everyone. It reminds me of a reverse take on the Russian folktale about the lost little girl who tells everyone she is the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the village and it turns out to be a homely old woman that the little girl sees as the most lovely of all. Here the children also have reasons for saying something negative about their mother. Take it as a lesson in toddler honesty and not personally and it’s a very funny read with a little bit of sass thrown in.

Frazee’s illustrations add to the merriment on the page where the children clearly know they are being naughty with what they are saying, but also delight in it too. You can almost hear the giggles and see the sparkling eyes.

Silly toddler fun, this picture book will end with lots of laughs and hugs for parents with a big sense of humor. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

Review: Goodnight, Grizzle Grump! by Aaron Blecha

Goodnight Grizzle Grump by Aaron Blecha

Goodnight, Grizzle Grump! by Aaron Blecha

Grizzle Grump is a huge bear who is ready to hibernate for the winter, but he has to find the right quiet place to do that. He’s so big that even his yawns can blow the other animals around. He tries to sleep in the trees first, going through an elaborate ritual of scratches, wiggles and flopping. Then he is asleep and snoring until the noises of the woodpeckers wake him up. He heads off to find another spot. But when he sleeps near the stream, the beavers are too loud. The gloomy swamp seems like a good choice until the frogs start to croak. He finally finds a snowy cave, far from everyone else. Then it is his turn to make huge snoring noises that drive everyone else away.

Blecha has created a great book to share aloud with a group. The humor is flawlessly presented in a way that makes it effortless to share. The ritual that Grizzle Grump goes through each time will have children giggling and is also something that you can get the audience to participate in. Inventive story time librarians will have children help make the noises of the woods and swamp with hands and feet.

The illustrations add to the humor from the bucktoothed squirrel who watches it all to the frenzied reaction of the bear every time he is woken once again. The wild energy of the story line is reflected in the illustrations with the noises themselves part of the art. Even the proportions of the huge bear and his little blanket and pillow add to the humor.

A glorious read aloud for autumn months or any bedtime, this picture book is a silly and cheery delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

Released September 29, 2015.

Mini and her mother almost hit a dog on their way home from Mini’s grandparents’ home. Mini’s mother hops out of the car and discovers that the dog is wearing bright yellow shoes. It doesn’t have a collar and there is no owner in sight, so they take the dog home with them. There, the dog starts to howl until they head out to the park together after purchasing a leash and collar. They get the attention of all of the dog owners at the park and the dog shows all of her tricks to everyone. Mini is very proud to be her owner. But when she tries to have the dog fetch a stick, the dog runs away. Now Mini knows that if she can find the dog again, she also has to find their original owner.

This book has such a marvelous sense of humor right from the beginning. If you only read the text, it is very simple and straight forward. Combined with the illustrations, it creates a rich humor that allows the text to be the straight man up againt the wild antics of the pictures. The book embraces the emotions of finding a stray animal, realizing that it probably has owners who are missing it, and then getting your own pet who actually suits you even better. The emotions are honest on the page, creating real heart in a book that could have been simply a lighter funny read.

I received an online version of this book for review and all I needed to see was the first few images to realize that this was a special book. From the boredom on Mini’s face as she rides home in the car to the dizzying range of emotions she shows throughout the day, the book is zingy and zany. It’s done entirely in black and white except for the pops of yellow for the dog’s shoes and the red of the leash and collar. All of the art is filled with personality and wit.

A wonderful read-aloud, this glowing picture book is a special find. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Schwartz & Wade and Edelweiss.

Review: Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy (InfoSoup)

Ragweed is an experience farm dog and he is willing to offer the reader his advice on how to be the best farm dog. First thing to know is not to wake the farmer in the early morning. That is the rooster’s job. Of course, if you do happen to wake the farmer, you would get a biscuit when been thrown out of the house. Pigs can be tricky too. It is not your job to roll in the mud, that is the pigs’ job. In fact, if you do get muddy you end up getting a bath, which is not fun. Of course, there is the biscuit you get afterwards. Ragweed has advice on chickens, sheep, and cows. Each time he offers firm advice, proceeds to ignore it himself and then manages to earn a treat along the way. Readers will get the humor immediately and will love this scrappy little dog who always manages to work everything out to his own advantage: biscuits!

Kennedy writes a clever take on a handbook here. There are other books that have unreliable lead characters who then do the opposite of what they are saying, but the addition of the treats to the equation makes this book all the more fun. The writing is wonderfully conversational and loose. It uses the voice of Ragweed to tell the story, offering an eager and bouncy tone that suits the book perfectly.

Kennedy’s art is bright and sunny. Ragweed pops on the page against the green grass of the farm. His tail almost seems to wag on the page and his eagerness and joy shine. His energy carries through all of the art, from the cows who look at him very skeptically (and with reason) to the panicked sheep to the dazed hens.

This wild romp of a book will be embraced as a read-aloud for farm and dog stories. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer

Ducks Vacation by Gilad Soffer

Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer (InfoSoup)

Duck is out on the beach having a relaxing vacation when suddenly, you arrive. And you turn the page! Duck is frustrated because he is on vacation and doesn’t want any kind of bother to happen. And you keep turning pages! As the pages turn, some bad things do start to happen from a bird pooping on Duck’s head to a crab pinching his toes. Then people start to arrive and the beach gets very crowded. It starts to rain and Duck says that it can’t get worse, but it certainly can. There could be snow! Or maybe pirates! Are you willing to stop turning the pages and not find out what happens next?

Originally published in Hebrew, this is a book that will have young readers and listeners giggling as the pages are turned. Duck is such a grumpy thing from the moment the first page is turned. Of course this is a trope used in one of my favorite childhood books, The Monster at the End of This Book. The reaction of characters to a reader turning pages really works well. The reader controls the pace of the reaction, and can delight in causing things to happen in a static book. It is also a set up that works really well read aloud.

Soffer’s illustrations play up the humor to top effect. The crowds of people who swarm the beach almost obscure Duck, the snow turns his bill blue, and the pirates, well he’s not cold anymore! Duck also has a range of emotions that he can display thanks to his expressive eyebrows that are sure to be in some sort of grimace.

Funny and a great choice to share with a preschool group. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel and Friends.

Review: I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell (InfoSoup)

This silly little book is a read-aloud gem. A donkey declares on the cover “I yam a donkey!” But unfortunately, he’s speaking to a yam and a rather persnickety one at that. The yam can’t leave the donkey’s odd grammar alone, and tries to correct him, but that quickly devolves into a “Who’s on first” type of exchange where misunderstandings pile up and the silliness does too. When the yam finally manages to explain that he is not a donkey (as the donkey has been misunderstanding) but actually a yam and all of the other characters are also vegetables, the ending takes a deliciously dark turn.

Bell uses impeccable comedic timing to make this picture book work so well. The vaudeville like comedy works perfectly here, playing up the stodgy yam and the enthusiastically confused donkey. The two are divergent personalities and make for a book that is such a strong read aloud that you really can’t read it silently. It begs to be shared and done with exquisitely different and wild voices since it’s written entirely in dialogue.

Bell’s illustrations are large and funny. Again, the two characters are shown as very different and the donkey mistaken the rather wrinkly and orange yam as a donkey is made all the funnier thanks to the illustrations. The final twist is wonderful and will have children who are a little older than preschool enjoying the grammar jokes and the ending together.

Funny, wildly silly and completely satisfying, this picture book will work best with elementary aged children who will get the dark humor as well as the grammar jokes. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.