Category Archives: humourous

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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Death or Ice Cream by Gareth P. Jones

I love finding authors who write a wide range of stories.  They don’t just write the same kinds of stories for the same age group, but really branch out and write all sorts of stuff.  Gareth P. Jones is one of those authors.  I first discovered Gareth when I picked up his first book, Constable and Toop.  I loved this book so much that I just wanted to read everything that he had written.  He stories can be hilariously funny, spooky and spine-tingling, or eerie and mysterious, and can feature ghosts, dinosaurs, and pirate robots.  In Gareth’s latest book, Death or Ice Cream? he takes us to the town of Larkin Mills and introduces us to the weird and wonderful characters that call this place home.

DeathLarkin Mills: The Birthplace of Death! Larkin Mills is no ordinary town. It’s a place of contradictions and enigma, of secrets and mysteries. A place with an exquisite ice cream parlour, and an awful lot of death. An extraordinary mystery in Larkin Mills is beginning to take shape. First we meet the apparently healthy Albert Dance, although he’s always been called a sickly child, and he’s been booked into Larkin Mills’ Hospital for Specially Ill Children. Then there’s his neighbour Ivor, who observes strange goings-on, and begins his own investigations into why his uncle disappeared all those years ago. Next we meet Young Olive, who is given a battered accordion by her father, and unwittingly strikes a dreadful deal with an instrument repair man. Make sure you keep an eye on Mr Morricone, the town ice-cream seller, who has queues snaking around the block for his legendary ice cream flavours Summer Fruits Suicide and The Christmas Massacre. And Mr Milkwell, the undertaker, who has some very dodgy secrets locked up in his hearse. Because if you can piece together what all these strange folks have to do with one another …well, you’ll have begun to unlock the dark secrets that keep the little world of Larkin Mills spinning.

Death or Ice Cream? is dark, devilish and fun and I loved every minute of it!  The book is a series of interconnected spine-tingling stories, with a large helping of black humour, that draws you into the strange town of Larkin Mills.  Gareth made me laugh out loud, shiver and cringe.

I love the way that each of the stories interconnect and interact with each other.  There are characters (Mr Morricone) and objects (a vial of purple liquid) that pop up in a few of the stories and you wonder about the significance of these.  A story that you have just read could relate to the story that you read next, and I often thought it was quite clever how they related to each other.  Each of the stories is a piece of the jigsaw that you add to with each new story, and by the end of the book we know all about Larkin Mills and its secrets.

There are so many characters to love in Death or Ice Cream?  We get brief glimpses of characters, only to realise that they are much more important than you thought, and they turn up in another story.  In the first story there is a man going door-t0-door selling anecdotes.  You don’t learn much about him but you just know that he will turn up later.  Like the town itself, many of the characters appear to be hiding something.  Why, for example, is Mr Morricone’s Ice Cream Parlour so popular?  Why does his ice cream have such wicked sounding names, like Mowed Down Madness or Trigger Finger of Fudge?  Then there is the undertaker, Mr Milkwell, who runs a hotel/funeral home where the guests are both living and dead.

The TV shows that Gareth has added into the book gave me a good chuckle too. My favourite is called Flog It Or Burn It, where competitors are trying to sell their family heirlooms against the clock.  The person with the most unsold items has their burnt in front of a live studio audience.  It sounds much more exciting than Antiques Roadshow or Cash in the Attic.  One of the characters loves watching competitive basket weaving, which I’m sure would be thrilling.

Pick up a copy of the devilishly funny Death or Ice Cream? now and discover what’s going on in Larkin Mills.  This is one town you don’t ever want to visit!

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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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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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Beware – Danger is Everywhere!

I discovered the hilarious Danger is Everywhere a couple of weeks ago while browsing through new books at my library.  Danger is Everywhere is written by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge.  It is a ‘Handbook for Avoiding Danger’ that has two aims:

  1. To remind you that Danger is Everywhere
  2. To make you into a qualified Dangerologist (Level 1)

It is chock full of tips to avoid danger in every day situations, including what to do with a page 9 scorpion, removing a bee in your house, how to find out if your teacher is a vampire, and how to dress for danger.  These handy tips are presented to you by Doctor Noel Zone, the world’s only Dangerologist.

The sequel to Danger is Everywhere, Danger is Still Everywhere, has recently been released and it contains even more tips for avoiding danger.  Both of these books are perfect for kids who like their books full of silly drawings, funny and crazy advice and lots of laughs.  I especially like Doctor Noel’s Relaxing Fairy Tales, crazy alternative fairy tales which involve things like the three little pigs being cooked by lava from a volcano.

Check out these videos featuring advice and tips from Danger is Everywhere and the book trailer for Danger is Still Everywhere:

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The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing by Barry Hutchison

I’ve been a huge fan of Barry Hutchison for ages.  He is one of those incredibly talented authors who can write for all ages and in a range of different genres.  His Invisible Fiends series is one of my favourite series and is delightfully creepy.  I was sucked in to the series with Mr Mumbles and eagerly awaited the next books in the series.  Barry’s next few books, The 13th Horseman and The Book of Doom were hilariously funny books for older readers and I loved these just as much.  Earlier this year Barry released the first book in his brilliant new series for younger readers all about Benjamin Blank, The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.

In an alternate 15th century, where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots, ten-year-old orphan Benjamin Blank battles monsters, rescues maidens and discovers fantastic new lands, but never quite manages to get his homework handed in on time. Each adventure sees Ben and his friends, Paradise Little and Wesley Chant, face a new monstrous menace.

The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing is a hilarious, rollicking adventure that will have you laughing out loud as you follow Ben and his friends on their quest.  Ben desperately wants to be a hero and when a girl called Paradise turns up in his village looking for a warrior, Ben sees his chance.  A monster is terrorising Paradise’s village and she needs a warrior to save them and vanquish the monster.  Ben hasn’t had much practice but he’s the only warrior around that can help.  Armed with a magic gauntlet, Ben sets off with Paradise to save her village from the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.

The thing I love the most about Barry’s books is the dialogue.  The conversations and interactions between his characters always makes me laugh and I certainly laughed my way through The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  This is a perfect book to read aloud as it really keeps kids’ attention.  There is one particular part of the book, involving a troll and his game of ‘Burp-or-Death’ that I love reading out to kids.  I can hardly get through this part with out cracking up laughing and kids absolutely love it, especially boys.  If you’re looking for the perfect read aloud for ages 8 and up you really can’t go past The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  I guarantee it will be a winner!

I love Chris Mould’s illustrations and they perfectly match Barry’s story!  They are quirky and add an extra layer of humour to the story.  I especially love Chris’ cover illustration, with the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing creeping up on Ben, and his illustrations of my favourite troll in his y-front undies.

There are more books coming in the series, including The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing (which has just been released) and The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing (coming in October).  I can’t wait to read more adventures of Benjamin Blank and see how he defeats new monsters.  Grab a copy of The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing from your library or bookshop now.

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The Bad Guys: Episode One by Aaron Blabey

Aaron Blabey writes very funny picture books.  His picture books about Pig the Pug and Thelma the Unicorn are hilarious and are some of my favourite picture books.  I was excited when I heard that Aaron Blabey was going to be publishing a series of books for older children, called The Bad Guys.  The first book in the series, Episode One, is out now and it is absolutely brilliant!

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys . . . and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! Mr Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. The gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr Snake please spit out Mr Piranha?

The Bad Guys: Episode One is a short, witty and incredibly funny book that will have you laughing out loud.  It’s the sort of book that makes you laugh all the way through.  The humour works on different levels so – there is lots to make younger kids laugh but adults will get some jokes that kids might not.

The story focuses on a group of animals who are always thought of as bad guys – Mr Wolf, Mr Snake, Mr Piranha and Mr Shark.  They get a pretty bad rap, from attempting to eat old women to eating anything and anybody.  Mr Wolf is sick of being misunderstood so he calls his friends together and they set out to prove they can be good guys.  Their plans never quite seem to go as planned and have hilarious consequences.

There are so many things I love about The Bad Guys!  The way that Aaron tells the story draws the reader in, with Mr Wolf speaking directly to the reader at the start of the book.  It’s a cross between a graphic novel and a chapter book, with sparse text and funny illustrations, so will appeal to beginner readers right through to older children.  I love Aaron Blabey’s illustrations because his characters are so expressive and it’s the combination of these illustrations and the text that make this book so funny.

The Bad Guys begs to be read aloud so grab a copy of Episode 1 and laugh along with your children as you introduce them to the bad guys who just want to be good.

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