Tag Archives: humour

Yo-ho-ho! Here come the Steampunk Pirates!

Avast me hearties! Are you a land lubber lookin’ for a book chock full of adventure on the seven seas, robot pirates, laughs aplenty, and gold?  Well the Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates is the series for you. Hop on board The Leaky Battery and set sail with this rag-tag crew.

Wanted: Dead or Alive! (Or smashed into little bits and delivered in boxes.) Causing chaos wherever they sail, the robotic Steampunk Pirates are roaming the high seas, hunting for gold!

But the evil Iron Duke has other ideas…He’s determined to capture the pirates in return for a handsome reward from the King. Can these mechanical marauders stay one wave ahead of their enemy?

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail is the brilliant first book in Gareth P. Jones’ swashbuckling new series, Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates.  The Steampunk Pirates are a crew of robots who were once servants. They decided they didn’t want to be bossed around so acquired a ship and set out to find adventure.  Their crew is made up of their hot-headed leader Captain Clockheart, First Mate Mainspring (who gets dangerous when he gets overwound), Quartermaster Lexi (the brains of the crew who is fitted with an information file), Mr Gadge (so named because of all the gadgets he can attach to himself) and twelve other robotic low-lifes.

Their first adventure sees the Steampunk Pirates on the hunt for all the loot they can find.  They’ve discovered that life at sea isn’t so great when you’re made of metal because it rusts in the salty sea air.  They hear of an alchemist who can turn metal in to gold and Captain Clockheart believes this is the answer to their problems.  Along the way they meet the Iron Duke and other nasty humans who try to foil their plans.

Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates is perfect for readers aged 7+ who love adventure and love to laugh. They’re quick, fun reads with quirky illustrations that will appeal to young readers.  I look forward to seeing what happens in the next adventures of the Steampunk Pirates in Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders.  I highly recommend this series and you should definitely search out Gareth’s other books, including the Ninja Meerkats series, The Thornthwaite Inheritance, and one of my favourite books Constable and Toop.

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The Deadly Seven by Garth Jennings

What would life be like if you were followed around by seven noisy, smelly, rude monsters? And not just any monsters, but seven monsters who represent the seven deadly sins.  Garth Jennings shows us just how weird, silly and embarrassing it would be in his book The Deadly 7.

The Deadly 7When eleven year-old Nelson’s beloved big sister goes missing on a school trip, he is devastated – he’s not that good at making friends and his sister is the only person he can talk to. In the dark catacombs of St Paul’s cathedral Nelson stumbles across a strange and ancient machine, designed to extract the seven deadly sins and Nelson accidentally extracts seven deadly monsters from his own little soul. Nelson and the Deadly 7 set out on a quest across the globe to find and rescue his big sister and on the way they have an adventure beyond Nelson’s wildest dreams, and he learns that good friends come in all shapes and sizes.

The Deadly Seven is a funny adventure story, with a bunch of funny monsters that you’ll love.  The action is fast-paced and makes you want to keep reading.  The first chapter totally grabbed me as it’s really mysterious and features a rather odd character who we see more of throughout the book.  The Deadly 7 are made up of Stan (the angry one), Nosh (the hungry one), Crush (the cuddly one), Hoot (the vain one), Miser (the greedy one), Puff (the lazy one), and Spike (the jealous one).  No one can see them but Nelson so that makes for some very funny situations (at airport security and inside a plane just to name a couple).  The scene in the airport was my favourite part and I always read it to school groups as it has them laughing out loud.  My favourite of the monsters was Nosh as he’s always hungry and it’s amazing what he can fit in his mouth.

It’s perfect for fans of Frank Cottrell Boyce and Cressida Cowell and any readers that a dash of humour and adventure in their books.

Recommended for 9+

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How to draw Timmy Failure with Stephan Pastis

Stephan Pastis’ Timmy Failure series is one of my absolute favourites!  I’ve read them to my sons and they love them and they’re always a hit when I booktalk them.  The books are hilarious, from the clueless Timmy and his weird and wonderful friends, to the fantastic illustrations that add so much humour.  You can read my review of Mistakes Were Made and  Now Look What You’ve Done, here on my blog.

Check out these cool videos of Stephan Pastis showing us how to draw Timmy Failure and some of the other characters from the series:

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Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis

Clueless detective Timmy Failure is back on the case in his latest book, Now Look What You’ve Done.

He doesn t like to pull rank. To reveal that he s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president, and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, perhaps the nation. But he is. And he s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. It s his ticket to bringing home a $500 prize, which is guaranteed to set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to game the system. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar-bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice. If he can only get his entry form in on time.

If you’re looking for a book full of ‘greatness,’ ‘shenanigans,’ quirky characters and antics that will make you laugh out loud, then Now Look What You’ve Done is the book for you.  Timmy’s latest shenanigans have everything I loved about the first book, but even sillier.  There’s more Molly Moskins, more Total (Timmy’s 1500 pound polar bear partner), more Corrina Corrina (aka The Wedgie or The Weevil Bun), but there are also hilarious new characters, like Timmy’s Great-Aunt Colander (inventor of the Boom-Boom Shoe Wheel).  Stephan’s cartoons are hilarious and add extra humour to the text.  I love the way that they capture Timmy’s somewhat strange outlook on the world.

The thing I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the language that Timmy uses.  He sounds like a hard-boiled detective, even when he’s talking to his mum.  Kids who read these books will certainly increase their vocabulary.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.  It has been kid-tested and passed with flying colours.  I read both of the Timmy Failure books to my 10 year old boys and they absolutely love them.  I often hear them quoting things from the books.

Grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

 

 

 

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Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done book trailer

He doesn’t like to pull rank. To reveal that he’s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, probably the country, perhaps the world.

But he is. And he’s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. And win the $500 prize, which will set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to cheat. Bamboozle. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it’s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice. And obliterate Timmy’s arch-nemesis, the WEDGIE, aka the Worldwide Enemy of Da Goodness In Everything.

If he can only get his entry form in on time.

The second book in the hilarious Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis, Now Look What You’ve Done, is out now from Walker Books.  Look out next week for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies, thanks to Walker Books Australia.

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Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Meet Timmy Failure.  He’s the founder, president, and CEO of the detective agency he had named after himself: Total Failure Inc., ‘the best detective agency in town, probably the state. Perhaps the nation.’ His business partner (and idiot best friend) is a 1500 pound polar bear, named Total, who is often not very helpful, and gets paid in chicken nuggets. There is no case too big or two small for Total Failure Inc., whether it’s solving the mystery of the missing Halloween candy or discovering who stole his mother’s Segway.  Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the first book in the hilarious new series by Stephan Pastis.

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure – the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile – Timmy s mom s Segway – and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into “Stanfurd” that he can t carry out a no-brain spy mission.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the funniest book for kids that I’ve read in a long time.  The text by itself is funny, but add in Stephan’s cartoons and you get a book that has you laughing out loud.  The funniest parts of the book are when Timmy is explaining something and then he draws a picture to show you what happened.  There is a part when Timmy visits Molly Moskins’ house and he meets Molly’s cat, Senor Burrito, that made me laugh so hard (you’ll have to read the book to find out why).  Stephan’s illustrations of Total made me laugh every time too, because you wondered what he was going to get up to next or what Timmy would make him do. Reading this book is like watching a comedian with the best comedic timing.  It’s the combination of the text and the cartoons that will appeal to children, especially fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  I think Timmy Failure would even be great for those younger children (7-9 year olds) who might not be quite ready for Wimpy Kid yet.

One thing I loved about this book was the weird and wacky cast of characters.  First of all you’ve got Timmy, who is the one who is supposed to be looking for clues, but he’s completely clueless himself.  Readers will pick up the clues and solve the mystery way almost straight away, whereas Timmy has a completely different theory and tries to nab someone else for the crime.  He speaks like a detective and is always trying to convince his mother that his detective agency needs to upgrade their offices or get an administrative assistant to handle the paperwork.  Jimmy’s best friend, Total, doesn’t talk (because he’s a polar bear), but he provides some of the funniest moments of the story through his antics.  Molly Moskins is the weird girl that has a crush on Timmy who has mismatched pupils and a tendancy to use words that do not exist (like ‘wondermarvelously splendiferous’).  Then there is the ‘Evil One,’ Timmy’s nemesis and fellow detective, Corrina Corrina.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is only the first book in Stephan Pastis’ new series and I hope there will be many more to come.  I guarantee that your children will laugh out loud at least once while reading this book (I certainly did and got some weird looks for doing so).  I recommend it for anyone 7+ who likes a good laugh and quirky characters.

5 out of 5 stars

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Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I love creepy stories of all kinds.  Ghosts, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and other creatures that live in the dark are often featured in the books I love.  I’ve been reading many of the first titles from Hot Key Books (a brilliant new publisher based in the UK) and when I read about Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones I had to get my hands on it.  A ghost story set in Victorian London, featuring a boy who could communicate with ghosts, sounded absolutely fantastic!  Constable & Toop was even better than it sounded.

Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ – there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle – will he be able to bring himself to help?

Constable & Toop is a creepy, gruesome story, with plenty of mystery, and a good dose of wit and humour.  Gareth can have you cringing one moment and laughing the next, which is why I liked the book so much.  He has given us a glimpse inside the ghost world and it’s not what you would expect.  It’s the ghost world and the witty banter between his characters that provide the comic relief of the story.  There is also plenty of throat slitting and stabbing for those who like their ghost stories gruesome.  The story is set in Victorian London and from the first page you are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the period.

There are several different threads of the story, following different characters, which Gareth weaves together perfectly.  Gareth shows us the lives of the living and the dead, and the ‘Talkers’ allow them to communicate with each other.  Characters whose lives seem quite separate from each other in the beginning become increasingly intertwined as the story progresses.

The thing I liked the most about Constable and Toop was the way that Gareth portrayed the ghost world.  It’s very bureaucratic, with each ghost having a role, like Enforcer or Prowler, and there are lots of rules and regulations that ghosts must follow.  If they don’t do as they are told they’re labelled Rogues and are hunted down.  There is an incredible amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out to do anything, and you must have a license in order to be a Poltergeist.  In order to go to the physical world and find out what your unfinished business is (so that you can step through the Unseen Door and cross over) you have to apply for a research license.  Lapsewood is my favourite character because he’s a very likeable guy, who just wants to get away from all the paperwork and get some adventure out in the real world (while impressing the girl of his dreams).  He has some of the best lines and has some incredibly strange conversations with his superiors, who can never seem to get his name right.

If you want a ghost story with a difference grab a copy of Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  I would recommend it for fans of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series, Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s Apprentice series, or Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends series.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes

Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named (respectively) John and Abigail Templeton.

Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh, please. It would so.

Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and who enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and anyone who likes a story with lots of mystery, adventure, and tight spots to get out of.  It’s clever, witty and funny, but also a little bit crazy.  The story is told by the Narrator, a rather strange fellow, who is always trying to convince us (the Reader) how wonderful he is.  It takes the Narrator quite a few tries to actually get the story started, but when he does he keeps you on your toes.  The Narrator helps to point things out to the Reader, but also throws you off track by asking bizarre and random questions, like ‘Can you spell moustache?’  At the end of each chapter the Narrator has some Questions for Review, to test what you can remember about the story or just help to boost his ego.

You meet some curious characters in the story.  The twins themselves are quite unique – Abigail is very clever with words and John is extremely clever when it comes to devising plans and putting them into action.  These skills, as you can imagine, come in very handy throughout the story.  The villain of the story is Dean D. Dean, who accuses the twins’ father of stealing his idea for an invention.  Dean D. Dean is good at hatching plans, which involves kidnapping the Twins to hold for ransom.  If you think his name is silly, it only gets worse when he tells the children he wants to be a university dean.

Abigail said, “But that would make you Dean Dean D. Dean.”

“Exactly!” the man said with a wild, crazed smile.

“Dean Dean D. Dean?” Abigail said. “It sounds silly.”

“It sounds like ‘Here Comes the Bride,'” John said.

The book is illustrated throughout by Jeremy Holmes, with diagrams of inventions by the twins or their father, explanations of schemes that they have cooked up, and pictures of the characters.  There is some little illustration on each page, whether it’s Cassie the Ridiculous Dog or just the cog around the page number.  I think the illustrations will really appeal to boys and hook them in, especially if they’re not big readers.

Visit the very cool Templeton Twins website, where you can learn more about the book, the author and the illustrator, and watch the book trailer.

4 out of 5 stars

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The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

I love a story with a great villain.  Some of them, like Patrick Ness’ Mayor Prentice and Chris Morphew’s Noah Shackleton, you hate so much because they’re incredibly evil men (and you really want to punch them in the face!).  Other villains are quite likeable because, no matter how hard they try, things really don’t work out for them.  Lester Smythe, in Glenn Wood’s fantastic debut children’s book, The Brain Sucker, is one such villain.

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

The Brain Sucker is one of the coolest junior fiction (middle grade) books I’ve read in ages!  The idea is original, the story is action-packed, the heroes are unlike any you’ve met before and the villain is sinister.  From the very first page, when the villain slinks onto the page, I knew I was going to love the story, and I greedily turned the pages wanting to know how it would end.

Lester Smythe is a sinister villain, but there’s also something awkward about him.  He reminded me of a cross between Gru (from Despicable Me) and Professor Doofenshmirtz (from Phineas and Ferb) and I almost expected him to announce that his brain sucking machine was the ‘Brain-suckinator.’ I think Craig Phillips has perfectly captured Lester in his front cover illustration (I especially like the way that Lester’s eyes catch the light).  Lester’s plan is to rid the world of goodness because anyone acting good makes him physically sick, due to a horrible experience when he was younger.  The machine that will help him with his task is the Brain Sucker, which sucks the goodness right out of people’s heads.  It’s up to the heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

The heroes of the story, Callum, Sophie and Jinx are unlike any heroes I’ve met before.  They all have flaws but they manage to overcome these to help save the day.  Callum is paralysed from the waist down so he’s wheelchair bound, but he’s really determined and doesn’t let his disability get in his way.  He’s also got one of the coolest wheelchairs around!  Sophie is Callum’s best friend and she’s incredibly talented and intelligent.  She has a mechanical mind, so she can make improvements to her toys or invent new gadgets to help her friend.  Her only problem is that she gets claustrophobic.  Jinx is the funniest character in the book, because he has really bad luck.  He’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether it’s a gas main exploding under his school desk or bird dive-bombing him.  You always know something bad is going to happen when he’s around, especially when his thumb starts to dance.

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, The Brain Sucker is the book for you.  I’d recommend it for 9+ and it would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.

4 out of 5 stars

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Welcome to The 13th Horseman NZ Launch Party!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the New Zealand launch of Barry Hutchison’s The 13th Horseman.  I’ve been a huge fan of Barry’s for a while now and I wanted to do something special to launch his new book in NZ.  In Christchurch we’re having a launch party with giveaways, a feast fit for a Horseman of the Apocalypse, and some special launch videos from Barry in Scotland.

If you can’t be in Christchurch you can still celebrate the launch of Barry’s hilarious new book.  Barry has made 3 videos especially for his readers in NZ, in which he introduces The 13th Horseman, reads from the book, and answers some questions.  Also, if you scroll to the bottom of this post, you can enter to win a copy of The 13th Horseman with a signed bookplate.  Come on in and join the party!

Barry introduces The 13th Horseman

Barry reads an excerpt from The 13th Horseman

Barry answers some questions about The 13th Horseman

Thanks so much for the great videos Barry!  If you haven’t got a copy of The 13th Horseman, rush out to your bookshop now to grab a copy or enter my competition to win one.  Competition closes Friday 1 June (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition.  The winners are Cath and Amu.

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