Tag: humor

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.

Review: The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt

Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)

Released August 18, 2015.

In this companion to the very popular The Day the Crayons Quit, Duncan receives several postcards in the mail, all sent from his crayons, this times ones that have been forgotten, left behind or run away. There is Maroon Crayon who was lost in the couch, broken in half and saved by Paperclip. There is Pea Green, who is aware that no one likes his color so he’s run away to see the world and renamed himself Esteban. Neon Red Crayon has been left behind on vacation and undertakes a long and arduous journey back home, getting his geography all mixed up along the way. There are crayons that melted together in the sun, ones that were eaten and puked up by the dog, ones stuck in sharpeners, left behind in basements, and put in the dryer. All of the crayons want to return home and Duncan has just the solution for them, no matter what condition they are in.

This second picture book about Duncan’s crayons has the same fabulous sense of humor as the first one. The crayons all have their own unique personalities. While the book moves from one crayon to the next in general, a couple of them return several times during the story. So readers get to see what happens when Esteban heads out into the world and also get to adventure along with Neon Red as he makes his long trek homeward. The entire book is merry and funny, filled with puns and jokes. Even the crayons in the worst condition are done with plenty of humor.

The illustrations by Jeffers add to the fun. Make sure to take the glow-in-the-dark crayon page into a dark room to see it glow. Jeffers’ asides by the crayons are wry and silly, creating small conversations outside of the postcard format.  As always, Jeffers’ illustrations are a treat with lots of personality, even with the characters being crayons.

A winning companion book for a popular read, this book is sure to please fans of the first and to find new fans who will happily discover both books. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin Young Readers.

Review: Billy’s Booger by William Joyce

Billys Booger by William Joyce

Billy’s Booger by William Joyce (InfoSoup)

This memoir in picture book format celebrates the creativity of a child destined to become an author. William has trouble at school. He wishes math were as much fun as the comics in the newspaper. He wants to play invented sports in gym instead of the normal ones. Notes are sent home from school. Then along comes a creative writing contest and William is very excited. He works and works on his entry. It’s title is Billy’s Booger and it’s all about a booger in his nose that gets super powers. But when the prizes are given out, Billy doesn’t win any of them, not even honorable mention. He is devastated and starts to act like everyone else. When he’s returning all of the book he used for research for his own book, he hears laughter in the library and heads over to investigate. A group of kids is reading his book and the librarian tells him that out of all of the entries in the contest, his is the most popular! He may not have won the actual prizes, but got something even better.

Joyce tells the story with a wonderful tone. He explains the earlier time when he grew up and children played outside rather than at playdates, when there were only three channels on the TV, and when funnies in the paper were a huge part of your day. It is a memoir about a kid who doesn’t quite fit into the school mold. It’s less about the grownups and how they dealt with him, though that is there in the background and more about him as a child and what he loved to do even then. It’s a testament to following your dream, to doing what you love and what you have always loved.

The illustrations are done in Joyce’s signature style, one that embraces vintage elements but also shines with a modern feel too. My favorite part of the book was the insert with William’s book in it. Happily, the pages are made from construction paper that feels so different in your hand. When I turned the page and saw it I cheered aloud. It is such a change from the finished and lovely illustrations in the rest of the book to move to these rougher drawings and paper. What an important element to embrace.

Fans of Joyce will love this glimpse of him as a child and it may inspire children to try their own hands at writing. Get this funny book out when creative writing projects are coming to help inspire really creative responses. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.