Category Archives: funny

Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

Everyone loves a good story about a cool babysitter or nanny, like Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or Nanny Piggins.  Now there is a new character to add to that list, the larger-than-life Marge.  Jake and Jemima’s life becomes incredibly exciting when Marge arrives.

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Meet Marge, the mischievous babysitter with rainbow hair who loves to make a mess and bend the rules . . . At dinnertime Chef Marge cooks up chocolate soup, and at school Marge the Muscian conducts a chaotic concert in the playground!

Jake and Jemima have brilliant fun with their new babysitter, but will they manage to tick off all the jobs on Mummy’s list?

Marge in Charge is a hilarious, entertaining collection of stories about the magic that Marge brings to Jake and Jemima’s life. Isla Fisher’s stories about Marge will have children laughing out loud and wishing they had a babysitter who was this much fun.

Jemima and Jake don’t think that Marge is going to be any fun, especially when she turns up at their house looking like a strict old lady.  They have no idea of the adventures that await them.  Marge has so many stories to share and you’re never quite sure which are real and which ones she’s made up. Marge brings out the fun in any situation and makes everything better, from birthday parties to school.  It’s not only Jemima and Jake that fall in love with Marge, all the other kids at school want her as their babysitter too.  There are three stories in this first collection and I certainly hope there will be more stories to look forward to.

Marge in Charge is a perfect read-aloud to share with a class or snuggled up with your kids.  Kids aged 6-10 especially will love Marge and her crazy antics.  The book is illustrated throughout by Eglantine Ceulemans delightful illustrations.  She makes Marge’s larger than life character jump off the page.

Check out this video of Isla Fisher introducing the series:

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Charlie and the War Against the Grannies by Alan Brough

Have you ever had a paper round?  If you have it was probably pretty easy to get one.  You almost certainly didn’t have to fight a granny army to get one.  Lucky you!  Charlie Duncan has no such luck when he tries to get a paper round.  When he tries to get a paper round his life goes from pretty normal to seriously weird in Alan Brough’s new book, Charlie and the War Against the Grannies.

untitledMy name is Charlie Ian Duncan. I will be 12 on 2 February. I have written this history of my war with the grannies because I need everyone to know that I didn’t mean for Mrs Cyclopolos to blow up. I just wanted a paper round.

When I say ‘my war with the grannies’, I really mean the war I waged alongside my best friend Hils, my second-best-friend Rashid, Peter the Iraqi who isn’t afraid of anything (well apart from one thing), Warren and his magical bike TwelveSpeed and those crazy people we met underground.

The grannies started it when I asked them about a paper round and they sprayed me in the face with rooster brand chilli sauce and made me think that I was dead. Hils and I decided to go to war with them but then I discovered one of the grannies had a glass eye and I wasn’t sure if it was okay to go to war against someone with a glass eye but then I discovered that the granny with the glass eye could pinch bricks in half, turn her snot-covered hankies into deadly throwing weapons and possessed a truly terrible device called the Gnashing Gnet.

It’s all true.

Especially the bit about me not wanting anyone to blow up.

Charlie and the War Against the Grannies is an absolutely bonkers story that will make you laugh out loud.  Alan Brough has taken a pretty simple idea (getting a paper round) and turned it into an all out war against grannies.  There is something for everyone in this story – evil grannies, secret passageways, secret toilet codes, incredible inventions,  explosions, weird characters, and hot sauce.  To find out how all of these things are related you’ll have to read the book.

This is one seriously funny book that I just know kids (especially boys) are going to love.  Even before you start the story Alan makes you laugh with the disclaimer that states ‘Seventeen grannies were hurt (just a little bit) during the making of this book.’ There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments, like when Charlie and Hils are trying to come up with a better name for the evil grannies.  The first chapter is only two sentences long but totally hooks you in,

‘I didn’t want Mrs Cyclopolos to explode.  I just wanted a paper round.’

It starts off pretty crazy and just gets crazier from there.  Charlie is joined in his mission for a paper round by his best friend Hils (don’t call her Hilary), who is totally obsessed with the army.  She talks like she is in the army and has a collection of military issue equipment, like gas masks, flares and an enormous knife.  She’s a great person to have by Charlie’s side because she’s pretty fearless.  One of my favourite moments in the book is when Charlie and Hils need to communicate using Flush Latin.  This is a secret code they created so that they can communicate from a toilet if they get in trouble.  They use a combination of flushes, hand dryer sounds, lid slams and more to communicate secretly.

I think a lot of kids will relate to Charlie, especially since he describes himself as a ‘Digital Orphan,’ a kid who is completely ignored by his parents because they are always on their iPhones.  He says that his parents ‘are so interested in their iPhones that they have lost all interest in me.  They take so little notice of me that I might as well not have parents.’

Rush out and get a copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies now.  It’s perfect for fans of Andy Griffiths, David Walliams and Morris Gleitzman or just anyone who loves a good laugh.

 

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Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Frank Cottrell Boyce is one of my favourite authors.  I fell in love with his writing when I first read his debut novel, Millions.  Every new book of his promises a fresh, entertaining and exciting story that I know I will love.  Frank’s previous book The Astounding Broccoli Boy is one of my favourites of his. Frank’s new book, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, is an out-of-this-world read that I absolutely loved.

Sputnik-s Guide to Life on EarthWhen his grandfather becomes ill Prez goes to stay with a foster family. The Blythes are a big, warm, rambunctious family who live on a small farm and sometimes foster children. Although he seems cheerful and helpful, Prez never says a word. Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. Sputnik bursts into their lives and sets out to help Prez and try to save Earth.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth is a funny, feel-good story that will make you wish you had a Sputnik of your very own.  Sputnik’s unique point of view will make you look at the world around you in a new way and get you thinking about the things that aliens might find fascinating about Earth.  Frank Cottrell Boyce will make you think but also make you laugh out loud while reading this book.

Sputnik bursts into Prez’s life right when he needs a friend, even one who is going to cause a whole heap of trouble.  While everyone else sees Sputnik as a dog Prez sees him as a wee fellow about the same age and height as him, dressed in a ‘slightly-too-big jumper, kilt, leather helmet like the ones pilots wear in war movies, with massive goggles.’ As Prez doesn’t talk he communicates telepathically with Sputnik, therefore no one sees Prez talking to a dog.  Sputnik tells Prez that he is the point of his mission and that they have to find 10 things that are amazing about Earth.  Earth, says Sputnik, is due for shrinking, and that they need to find 10 things that would make Earth worth saving.  Prez and Sputnik set out to find these 10 things and write Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. Along the way Prez finds his place in the world and finds his way into our hearts.

Sputnik gets Prez into some hilarious situations in the story.  Sputnik is always trying to fix things and make them better, from a toy lightsaber and a remote control to a chairlift and a mobility scooter.  I loved Sputnik’s new and improved versions and they will have kids laughing out loud.  I especially loved the lightsaber incident.

Not only is Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth a fantastic story, it is also the perfect book to put into the hands of kids whose grandparents have dementia.  Frank Cottrell Boyce perfectly captures the heartbreak of a kid whose grandparent is getting more and more forgetful.  Prez does all he can to help his grandad remember things and tries to break him out of ‘prison.’

Grab a copy of Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth and discover the marvels of Earth with your new best friend, Sputnik.

 

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The Turners by Mick Elliott

Sometimes you pick up a book and you just know that kids are going to love it.  It could be the cover that jumps out at you or the blurb that hooks you in and makes you want to read the book.  Mick Elliott’s new book, The Turners, has huge kid-appeal, from the awesome cover featuring a shape-shifting kid to the promise of killer pigs and snake-men on the cover.

the-turnersLeo Lennox has an epic problem: it’s his thirteenth birthday and he has just grown a tail.

You’d think that growing a tail in the middle of the school library would be the worst thing that could happen to you, but Leo is about to discover that things can always get worse – and a whole lot weirder. Now, as he discovers an unthinkable family secret, Leo must team up with his infuriating older sister to escape snake-skinned henchmen, ancient shape-shifters and a whispering villain determined to feed him to a pack of genetically engineered killer pigs – all while trying to control his new shape-shifting powers.

The Turners is a crazy, hilarious thrill-ride packed with shapeshifters, weird genetic experiments and family secrets.  Mick Elliott drops you straight into the action with the strange, embarassing situation that Leo finds himself in.  The story gallops and leaps along, with never a dull moment, as you join Leo and Abbie on their search for answers.

There is something in The Turners to appeal to anyone.  There is the mystery of Turners with their genetic anomoly that allows them to turn into different animals, (from rodents and birds to mammals and reptiles), the adventure that Leo and Abbie find themselves on in their search for answers, some delightfully sinister villains, and genetically engineered pigs and hamsters.  The Turners is also perfect for those kids who love a funny story.  There are some hilarious moments in the story, especially when it comes to turning in to different animals.  My favourite part is when Leo interupts his sister Abbie when she is trying to show him how an expert Turns.  It ends in Leo being sprayed with sloth urine (I know kids will love this part).

The cover and design for The Turners is brilliant too.  The bright orange and green makes the book jump off the shelf and the cover illustration makes you want to find out what the story is about.  The title also has a very cool lizard scale effect as well.

The Turners is the first part of a trilogy by Mick Elliott and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  It’s perfect for ages 9+ and would make a great read aloud for Years 5-8.

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Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan

I’ve read some fantastic picture books so far this year but the new picture book by Elys Dolan, Steven Seagull: Action Hero, has blown all the others out of the water.

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Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the hilarious story of Steven, a retired cop who comes back to the force for one last case. Someone is stealing the sand from Beach City and it’s up to Steven and his ex-partner, a goldfish called Mac, to catch the thief. They have a list of suspects, including reformed criminals Harry, Lola and Rick. Will they catch the culprit and find out what’s been happening to the missing sand? You don’t want to mess with this seagull.

Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the funniest picture book I’ve ever read.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book for months as I’m a huge fan of Elys Dolan’s books.  She creates picture books with so many layers of humour and this book is no exception.  I was laughing the whole time I was reading it and every time I read it again it makes me giggle.  There is no doubt that kids will love Steven Seagull but this is one of those rare picture books that will appeal to adults as much as kids.  I think it’s a book that dads in particular will love, with the references to action movies and action stars like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude van Damme.

In Elys’s other picture books there have been lots of funny details to find in the illustrations and the pages can be packed with characters.  In Steven Seagull though it’s often the sparse pages that are the funniest.  Take the first two pages for example:

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steven speedboat web

From Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan, published by Oxford University Press

 

I love the look on Steven’s face as he looks into the distance.  It’s the perfect action hero stare.  He looks tough and afraid of nothing.

I also love the stereotypical action movie details in the illustrations. Steven’s partner Mac has his police badge around his neck the whole time, there are posters up around the place encouraging the animals to ‘Vote Clam’ for mayor, and the end papers of Steven doing karate moves look like a montage of Steven preparing himself for a fight.

I urge everyone to buy a copy of Steven Seagull: Action Hero (or at the very least borrow it constantly from your library) and join the Steven Seagull fan club.  It’s a picture book that I want to share with everyone and I encourage you to share it with everyone too.

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The Last Book Before Bedtime by Nicola O’Byrne

I’m a huge fan of Nicola O’Byrne’s books.  Both Open Very Carefully and Use Your Imagination are absolute winners, especially for reading aloud to big groups of kids.  Her illustrations are colourful and full of character and I just love the style of them.  Nicola’s books get better and better, and her latest book from Nosy Crow, The Last Book Before Bedtime just goes to prove this.

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Everyone knows that the very last story before bed is the best story of all. But the problem is, everyone wants to be in that very last story! A familiar fairy tale is turned topsy-turvy when Cinderella hijacks the story of The Three Little Pigs, then Little Red Riding Hood jumps in, adamant that her story is better because it’s full of danger. And then the Big Bad Wolf turns up too! But disaster strikes! Uh-oh! What will they do? The reader is still awake and needs a story! The characters make up their own story, of course, and one with enough funniness, romance, danger AND cake (obviously) to keep everyone happy.

The Last Book Before Bedtime should be called The Perfect Book Before Bedtime because this is the perfect bedtime story.  It’s got characters from lots of different stories that children will know, from The Three Little Pigs to Cinderella. The person reading gets to do all sorts of voices, from pigs to little girls and a wolf.  You can really make the book come alive with all these voices.

As well as the story that is being narrated each of the characters has little speech bubbles that add to the story.  Number 2 Pig is always hungry and looking for food (‘Who cares?! There’s a banquet in this story’), Cinderella is bossy (‘If I can’t be the star of the story, then NOBODY can!), and of course the wolf is always doing bad stuff (‘Ooooh, this is fun! I love a chance to be bad.).  One of the things I love most about Nicola’s books is the interaction between the book, the characters and the reader.  There is plenty of interaction in this book, especially towards the end.

Nicola’s illustrations are wonderful as always.  They are full of fun and silliness, and each of the characters jump off the page.  I love the way that Nicola has given each of the pigs a different personality and how Little Red and Cinderella have some real personality.  I really love the design of the book too, from the cut-out cover to the way that the characters stand out on the page.

If you are looking for the perfect book before bedtime (or to really perform for a group) you can’t go past The Last Book Before Bedtime.  It’s sure to lead you on to many, many more bedtime stories.

 

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My Favourite Christmas Books: Santa’s Beard

One of my favourite Christmas books is Santa’s Beard by Matilda Tristram and Tom Duxbury, and illustrated by Nick Sharratt.  It is the best Christmas story to read aloud and I love sharing it with kids.

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It’s an incredibly silly, laugh-out-loud story about Santa’s beard finding a new face.  Santa is too hot with his beard in the summer sun so his beard decides to find a new face.  Santa’s beard jumps onto a chef, a granny, a baby and many more faces to try and find the right place.  The real fun of this book is that, as you read, you have to move Santa’s beard around and put it on each new face.  The anticipation is wonderful and kids always laugh when they see whose face Santa’s beard has landed on.  The text is simple and fun and Nick Sharratt’s illustrations are delightful as always.

Here is a video from the publisher of Santa’s Beard, Walker Books, of a very funny reading of the book:

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Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig

Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy is a delightful little book, filled with stories about a girl called Mango Allsorts and Bambang, an Asian tapir. Mango is a brave, clever, talented girl, but she is also lonely.  It is while she is walking through town one day that she sees a commotion and goes to the aid of Bambang.  Mango and Bambang become the best of friends and have lots of interesting adventures together. The stories are a joy to read and they’re very funny.  I love Clara Vulliamy’s illustrations, which bring Mango and Bambang to life in shades of black, white and purple.  The book is beautifully presented too, in hard-cover with gold foil and purple page edges.

These are two characters that children (especially girls) will fall in love with.  Hopefully there will be more Mango and Bambang stories to look forward to.  Grab a copy of Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig and introduce your children to two new friends.

Here is a video of Polly and Clara talking about how they created Mango and Bambang:

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Laugh out loud with Aaron Blabey

If you need a good laugh all you need to do is read a book by Aaron Blabey.

Aaron Blabey has become one of my favourite author/illustrators this year.  Not only are his books incredibly funny, he is also really prolific.  By the end of this year Aaron would have published 6 books through Scholastic!  This year he has given us Pig the Fibber (a follow-up to Pig the Pug), Thelma the Unicorn, Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, I Need a Hug (released this month), and two episodes of his brilliant series for younger readers, The Bad Guys.  Every one of these books is a winner in my eyes.  I love Aaron’s sense of humour, which appeals to kids and adults alike.  His picture books are perfect to read aloud and I have shared them with kids from Year 1 to Year 8 this year, with resounding success.

I hope that we have many more Aaron Blabey books to look forward to next year.  Here are my two favourites from Aaron this year.

Piranhas

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

This is the story of Brian (love the name!) a Piranha who should like meat but much prefers fruit and veges.  His friends aren’t happy and try to put him on the right track.  He tries to persuade them that ‘fruit is the best’ but they would rather eat feet, knees and bums.  This is a hilarious read that has kids and adults cracking up.  The idea of the story is great and it works really well.  There is so much expression in both the text and the illustrations.  Brian is just so happy being who he is but the other piranhas get really frustrated with him trying to get them to eat fruit and veges.   I also like Aaron’s extra added features in the front and back of the book that explain all about piranhas and bananas.  This is a picture book that will be read again and again.

The Bad Guys

This is my favourite series of 2015.  It’s perfect for kids from ages 7-12 and has all the things that make Aaron’s picture books so great – a unique story, laughs galore and great illustrations.  Episode 1 introduces us to the ‘Bad Guys’ of the story, Mr Wolf, Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake.  They’re always portrayed as the bad guys, with their shark teeth and nasty natures, but all they want to do is be good guys.  Mr Wolf gathers his friends together and they come up with a plan to become good guys.  Nothing seems to go as they planned though.  In Episode 2 the bad guys are trying to make good again so they come up with a new plan – rescue 10,000 chickens from a high-tech cage farm.  This time they’re joined by a new guy, Legs, a computer genius tarantula.  He’s a good guy with a bad reputation too so he wants to help out and do something good.

The Bad Guys books are short, chock-full of illustrations (sort of like a comic), and absolutely hilarious!  I chuckled my way through these first two episodes and I’ll eagerly await more escapades of The Bad Guys.

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Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad

There are only a handful of books each year that stand out and shine brighter than all the others.  Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is one of these books.  I want to shout about it from the rooftops and shove it into the hands of all the kids I meet.  It has shot to the top of the list of my favourite kids books of 2015.

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Olive has always dreamed of attending boarding school, but Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers is not what she expected. To tell the truth, dear reader, it is not what anyone expected!

The headmistress is completely bonkers and Pig McKenzie, school bully and all-round nasty swine, is determined to make Olive’s life unbearable.

Olive, however, is clever, sweet and kind, and soon gains the loyalty and devotion of three rats, a short-sighted moose, a compulsive liar and a goose who faints at the sight of cherries.

But will friendship and wits be enough when Pig McKenzie puts his Truly Wicked Plan into gear? Or will Olive be cast out of Groves forever?

Olive of Groves is an enchanting, entertaining and incredibly funny book, packed with imagination.  I love everything about this book, from the crazy antics to the wonderful characters.  I picked it up thinking that the blurb sounded intriguing and I fell in love with it from the very first page.

It’s a story about doing the right thing and being the better person in the face of bullies, believing in yourself and being the best friend that you can be.  With a headmistress who is afraid of girls, Olive has to set out to prove that she is not a ‘simple, ordinary, everyday girl.’ Throughout the story we discover how extraordinary Olive is.  She is kind, sweet, brave and a very loyal friend.  Olive is the sort of girl that everyone would want to be friends with and I know that the kids reading this story will love her as much as I did.  Olives is certainly one of my favourite protagonists in any of the books I’ve read and I hope we get to read more of her adventures.

Olive is only one of the many wonderful characters that inhabit Mrs Groves Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.  If you step through the doors you’ll meet Blimp (a rat with a large bottom), Wordsworth (a rat who loves words), Chester (a rat who loves buttons), Glenda the Goose (who faints at the thought of the nine times tables), Reuben the Rabbit (who loves nothing more than a good spin in the washing machine), Fumble (a shy talking moose), Mrs Groves (the ‘teeny-weeny bit odd’ headmistress), the villain of the story, Pig McKenzie, and many, many more.   I love all the characters, but my favourites are the three rats – Blimp, Wordsworth and Chester.

Katrina sweeps you up in the story with her lyrical writing and amusing dialogue.  She had me smiling all the way through the book and there were several parts where she had me laughing out loud.  I also Lucia’s illustrations.  They perfectly match this delightful story and bring Katrina’s characters to life.  My favourite illustration is on page 217, where we see Olive leading a whole bunch of the characters on a rescue mission.

I’m glad that Katrina has more adventures planned for Olive of Groves and I can’t wait to see what her and the gang get up to next.  Olive of Groves is the perfect present for 7-12 year olds so grab a copy for your children this Christmas.  I guarantee they will love it!

 

 

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