Category Archives: funny

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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Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre are a dream team.  They creative truly wonderful books together that grab readers’ attention. I have loved both of their previous books together, Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space. I get really excited every time I see they have a new book coming out and I can always tell by the title and the fantastic cover that it is going to be another great book.  They even have their own ‘A Reeve and McIntyre Production’ logo that Sarah has created.  Philip and Sarah’s latest collaboration is called Pugs of the Frozen North and it’s their best book yet!

The race to the top of the world! It comes around once in a lifetime – and the prize? Your heart’s desire. Shen and Sika can’t resist the chance to win, but competition is fierce. The path to victory is littered with snow trolls, sea monsters and a gang of particularly hungry yetis. But Sika and Shen have something the other contestants don’t have. Actually, they have 66 other things – PUGS, to be exact. That’s a 264-paw-powered sled. Let the race begin!

Pugs of the Frozen North is an action-packed, fun-filled spectacular of a book.  One moment you’ll be holding your breath in anticipation and the next you’ll be laughing out loud.  You meet Snow Trolls, sea monsters, hungry Yetis and all sorts of wonderful characters in Pugs of the Frozen North. I don’t think there is another author and illustrator team that are so perfectly matched as Philip and Sarah.  They come up with the ideas for their books together, then Philip writes the words and Sarah draws the pictures.  You can tell they have a lot of fun coming up with their stories as they are just brimming with imagination.

In Pugs of the Frozen North, True Winter arrives, freezing the seas and bringing adventurers from miles around to join the race to the top of the world.  Everyone wants to be the first to reach the Snowfather at the top of the world and have their wish granted.  Shen has been abandoned by his captain after their ship is frozen in the ice and he is left stranded with only sixty-six pug dogs to keep him company.  Luckily Shen finds Sika, a girl who lives in the village of Snowdovia with her mother and grandfather.  Sika really wants to enter the race to the Snowfather and thanks to Shen she now has sixty-six pug dogs to pull her sled.  Shen and Sika are racing against other more experienced adventurers, including Professor Shackleton Jones with his high-tech sled and SNOBOT companion, Helga Hammerfest and her team of polar bears, Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling and his butler Sidebar, and the glamorous Mitzi Von Primm.  Someone is determined to take their fellow contestants out of the race and win the prize for themselves.  There are also Snow Trolls, sea monsters, hungry Yetis and fifty different kinds of snow to deal with.

The main appeal of Philip and Sarah’s books for me is that they are chock-full of Sarah’s cute and comical illustrations.  I’ve never seen a pug dog look as cute as the ones that Sarah has drawn in this book!  Sarah truly brings the characters to life, from the pompous Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling to the cuddly-looking Yetis. The limited tone of the illustrations (green, white, black and grey) gives the illustrations an icy feel.  I also really love the cover, which I think looks incredibly appealing to kids.

Pugs of the Frozen North is one of my favourite books of the year.  This wonderful book has all the elements that I love in a story and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Curl up with Pugs of the Frozen North and you’ll be sure to fall in love with Philip Reeve and Sarah McInytre’s books.

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Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection

Timmy Failure is my son’s favourite book character. He’s not a kid that loves books but Timmy Failure has really grabbed him and we always read a new Timmy Failure book together.  Timmy is one of those characters who is so clueless that it’s funny.  He likes to think he is incredibly smart and the world’s greatest detective, but he is far from it.  It is Timmy’s ridiculous antics that appeals to my son and keeps him wanting to read the next book to see what he gets up to next.  Timmy’s latest ‘volume of Greatness,’ Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection has just been released and it’s everything that we’ve come to expect from this hapless detective.

Shenanigans abound as Timmy Failure finds himself on a road trip with none other than notorious criminal Molly Moskins. Travelling halfway across the country to help your mother’s boyfriend settle into his new job would be inconvenient for any detective, let alone the founder, president and CEO of Total Failure Inc, the world’s greatest detective agency. Timmy has a case to solve, and nothing can stand in his way. If he is to arrest Corrina Corrina and solve the YIP YAP case, Timmy, his sidekick polar bear Total, and Molly Moskins must go on the run!

Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection takes readers on a shenanigan-filled road-trip with Timmy and Stephan’s cast of wacky characters.  If things weren’t crazy enough with Timmy trying to solve a case by himself, in this book he is joined by the rather loopy Molly Moskins.  If you’ve read any of the other Timmy Failure books you’ll know all about Molly Moskins (AKA Tangerine Girl) and the HUGE crush she has on Timmy.  Timmy’s mum is now best friends with Molly’s mum, Esther, and the two families are going on holiday together.  Before they do though, they have to survive the cross-country trip to help Doorman Dave (Timmy’s mum’s boyfriend) move house.  Timmy has to put up with this huge inconvenience while trying to solve the YIP YAP case, one of his toughest cases so far.  Of course, Timmy is a hopeless detective whose cases are easily solved, but try telling him that.

We love seeing the same characters popping up again and again in the series and it’s great that Molly Moskins has more of a starring role in this story.  She’s willing to do pretty much anything that Timmy asks (which often gets her in trouble) but we also find out how clever Molly is.  Stephan introduces us to more wacky characters in this book too, including Molly’s weird baby brother Snot, map-loving Mr Moskins, and Killer Katy Kumquat (cleaner and superhero).

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have the others in the series but there is still plenty to love about it.  Stephan’s comic illustrations are one of the main reasons I keep coming back to this series and they certainly add extra humour to the story.  The series is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates and you don’t have to read them in order so you can start with whichever book in the series you like.

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Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection Book Trailer

I’m a huge fan of Stephan Pastis’ Timmy Failure series.  It’s funny, incredibly silly and it’s perfect for readers who love their books with cartoons, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  The latest book in the series, Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection is out now and I’ll be posting my review later in the week.  For now, enjoy this book trailer for the new book:

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