Tag Archives: humor

Energy Enthusiasm Excitement

2 Dec

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Energy. Enthusiasm. Excitement. These three words perfectly describe Sherri Duskey Rinker, author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series and several other books for young people.

Sherri must have been exhausted, she had already had two school visits that day. Yet here she came, eager to meet more fans.

Hosted by The Blue Manatee Bookstore she was here to talk to her audience… a loud rambunctious crowd to say the least. And talk she did. To them. On their level. Matching their energy, enthusiasm, and excitement note for note.


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Sherri asked them questions, responded to their questions (and sometimes off-topic comments), and told them stories about herself. And of course she read her newest book, Construction Site on Christmas Night.


Every eye was focused on the book. Every ear was tuned into the story.  She totally had these kids… mind, body, and spirit. I was in awe of her.

On the way to dinner, I asked my granddaughters what they liked the best. The six year old liked Sherri’s story about her sons. She even compared them to herself and her sister, saying that she goes right to sleep after her stories but that her sister does not. And she liked that the author wrote all their names in the book. The three year old said she wanted chicken nuggets and fries, but not the orange fries her mommy gave her the other day… those were yucky. Yep, even my own prodigy can be off-topic at times!

Thanks for coming to Cincinnati, Sherri! So glad I got to meet you in real life! me and sherry


Off topic post script: Orange fries are NOT yucky. Mommy is right, they’re better for you than regular french fries.



Goodnight Already!

1 Jan


Goodnight Already! written by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies (2014)

Bear is ready for bed. Duck is not. Just as Bear closes his eyes, his neighbor, Duck knocks on the door. Duck has all kinds of ideas… play cards, watch a movie, make smoothies. No. No. No. Bear shows him to the door and goes back to bed.  Through the bedroom window, Duck shows up wanting to borrow ingredients to make cookies… sugar, butter, eggs. No. No. No. Finally, Bear gets to sleep when who should show up, right on top of his chest? Duck! He used his emergency spare key. A stubbed beak is not an emergency! Duck goes home complaining about Bear’s grouchy attitude. He picks up a book and… zzzzz. Duck falls asleep in his reading chair while Bear is wide awake making cookies!

Jory John tells a familiar tale in just about any toddler household, with outrageous requests and outcomes. The humorous plot and twist will have little ones roaring with laughter.

Benji Davies accentuates the differences of these two personalities expertly. Poor bear looks like he desperately needs to sleep (i.e. hibernate) for a good long time, while the lively Duck badgers him mercilessly to stay awake. The facial expressions, body language, and attention to detail are masterfully illustrated in bold shapes and bright colors.

Love this book! I believe it will become a bedtime classic. See for yourself.

The Purple Kangaroo

29 Aug


The Purple Kangaroo written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Peter Brown (2009)

Before I go on, let me just state right up front, that I first heard about this book through the video book trailer below. Take a minute and watch it before you read the rest of this post, you won’t be sorry.

See! I was right wasn’t I? Now you just have to read the book too… I did! The monkey is a clairvoyant primate who not only can read your mind, he can do it again. And he doesn’t stop with just the ‘purple kangaroo’, he also gives you exact details as to what the purple kangaroo is doing. In the video, Michael Ian Black gives the reader some of the details the monkey provides, but not all. To find out all of the details of the purple kangaroo, his best friend – the wild-eyed chinchilla Señor Ernesto de Pantalones, and the pilot Admiral Margarita Flowerpuffer, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book and be amazed as the mind-reading monkey reads your mind too!

Michael Ian Black has ‘super secret, highly unusual, incredible, amazing, and slightly alarming magical powers’ himself. He can entertain and astonish readers of all ages with the simple turn of a page.

Peter Brown has ‘super secret, highly unusual, incredible, amazing, and slightly alarming magical powers’ as well. He has the ability to picture exactly what you are thinking and furthermore can illustrate your mind’s picture on the pages of the book.

I love the combination of text and artwork in this picture book. The ‘joke’ is clever and complete. And I’m pretty sure even the youngest readers will ‘get it’.

Interrupting Chicken

30 Jul


Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein (2010)

Papa only agrees to read Little Chicken a story if he doesn’t interrupt. But that seems impossible, with every story Papa reads, Little Chicken interrupts at a critical point. Just as Hansel and Gretel are about to go into the house, Little Chicken interrupts ‘Don’t go in! She’s a witch!’ Just as Little Red Riding Hood was about to answer the wolf, Little Chicken interrupts, ‘Don’t talk to strangers!’ And just as Chicken Little was about to warn everyone that the sky is falling, Little Chicken interrupts, ‘Don’t panic! It was just an acorn.’ Papa gives up trying to read a story to Little Chicken and he lays down in bed instead. So Little Chicken tells his own bedtime story to Papa, but just as Little Chicken begins his story Papa interrupts with snores! Good-night, Papa. And they both go to sleep.

David Ezra Stein tells an all too familiar scenario about a parent who is more tired than the child at bedtime. The text is playful and familiar, perfect for preschoolers. And the print changes as the story unfolds and Little Chicken interrupts the classic fairy tales. The illustrations won the Caldecott Honor Award for 2011. Besides featuring Papa and Little Chicken, the illustrations show the books Papa is reading in a traditional book format and the interruptions given by Little Chicken in childlike printing inserted on each storybook.

I love the humor and surprising twist in this story. Parents everywhere can relate to the frustrations Papa has in trying to get Little Chicken to bed, and children will be delighted with the interrupting chicken and his need to put Papa to bed.

The Not-So-Perfect Penguin

28 Jul


The Not-So-Perfect Penguin written and illustrated by Steve Smallman (2014)

Percy is part of a perfect penguin waddle. All the penguins eat sensibly, waddle seriously, and swim smoothly… all except Percy.  Percy is loud, rambunctious, and silly. One day in the middle of a huddle to keep warm, Percy lets out a loud and smelly FAAAAAART! All the other penguins send him away. Percy is cold and alone. And the other penguins realize how dull life is without him. So they go out in search of him. They find him frozen next to his snow-penguin, and they huddle around to melt him. When the snow is melted, Percy’s flippers were free to TICKLE…TICKLE…TICKLE!

Steve Smallman has brought to life a delightful little friend. At the end of the book, Steve Smallman encourages young readers to think about themselves and how they treat others with topics like: talk about things that may annoy others, what does it feel like to be ignored by your friends, and how it’s okay to be a little different and still fit in with a group.

I love the ending… “Surrounded by happy penguins, Percy felt that maybe he didn’t need to be perfect after all. His friends loved him just as he was.”

My Teacher is a Monster (No, I Am Not.)

28 Jul


My Teacher is a Monster (No, I Am Not) written and illustrated by Peter Brown (2014)

Bobby has a problem at school… his teacher. Bobby goes to the park on Saturdays to forget about his teacher problems. But one Saturday, Bobby meets his teacher at the park! Neither one of them seem to happy to see the other at their favorite spot, but gradually Bobby sees that his teacher isn’t really a monster after all and his teacher sees that Robert is really a pretty awesome little kid.

Peter Brown has done an awesome job himself showing us both sides of Robert/Bobby and the Monster/Teacher. With very little text and superb drawings, the reader follows the changing relationship between a student and his teacher. And of course, there is the signature Peter Brown style to make this story a read-again book not just a read it-done it story.

I love that both characters change and that we can see both points of view. And even at the end, when Bobby throws another paper airplane and his teacher’s face turns green, there is love and humor to hold the relationship together.

Cock-a-Doodle Oops!

3 Jun

18406841Cock-a-Doodle Oops! written by Lori Degman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke (2014)

Rooster has decided to go on beach vacation for a week and he leaves instructions with the rest of the farm animals to take over the responsibility of waking up Farmer McPeeper who is a very deep sleeper. Each day a different animal takes his or her turn at waking Farmer McPeeper. But cock-a-doodle-squeal and cock-a-doodle-baa and cock-a-doodle-moo and all the other cock-a-doodle-noises just don’t have the waking power needed to wake up sleepy Farmer McPeeper. To make matters worse, Rooster returns from the beach with a bad cold and can’t crow. Finally Cow comes up with a plan to wake Farmer McPeeper with a wake-up call on the phone. Farmer McPeeper wakes up to the weak call of his rooster. Sore and hungry and with a week-old beard, he rushes to the barn and decides that poor sick Rooster needs a week’s vacation to take care of his voice!

Lori Degman writes with perfect rhyme and meter! There’s no way you could read this book out of rhythm. And the humor is spot-on! Readers will love the images evoked by such phrases as when Farmer McPeeper was described as such a deep sleeper that ‘not even an earthquake could shake him’ or when the talented cow announces that he is a master, but his cock-a-doodle-MOOOOOO was ‘an udder disaster’!

Deborah Zemke’s caricatures of the farm animals are hilarious and will have readers entertained as they follow the trials and blunders of their attempts to wake up Farmer McPeeper.

I swear I look the same way Farmer McPeeper does when I wake up in the morning to a loud and obnoxious alarm clock, although I rarely feel like I’ve slept for a week… what luxury! There are lots of farm books on the market, and just when you think there couldn’t be another fresh take on an old subject along comes Cock-a-Doodle-Oops! Pick up your own copy soon, I know you’ll crow about it too!

Swim! Swim!

3 Jun

0-545-09419-4Swim! Swim! written and illustrated by Lerch aka James Proimos (2010)

Lerch is a lonely goldfish living in a tank. He tries unsuccessfully to make friends. The pebbles don’t talk to him and the underwater diver has nothing to say either. Lerch cries but is reassured that we can’t see tears underwater. Then he hears bubbles. He swims to the bubbles to make friends by talking in their language. But the bubbles pop as they reach the surface of the water and Lerch is afraid that he has killed them. Just when he is resigned that no one loves him, Lerch meets someone who seems to like him… a cat! He introduces himself, but the cat mistakes his name for Lunch. When Lerch realizes what might befall him next, he is surprised to meet Dinner… Dinah! Now Lerch has a friend. Lerch and Dinah swim together and hold fins in Dinah’s tank.

Lerch, also known as James Proimos, tells us his story through speech bubbles. It feels as if he is really talking to the reader. In turn, the reader feels his loneliness and sadness at not being loved. The twist of the cat who loves the fish Lunch and Dinner, is funny and touching. Once the reader realizes that Lerch will not become the cat’s lunch, he/she can breath a sigh of relief and share in Lerch’s happiness at finding a friend.

James Proimos does an excellent job of illustrating the small world of Lerch and Dinah. Every page takes place in (or just above) the fish tanks. There is no question that Lerch’s world is limited to his four walls, yet he still finds love and happiness.

Awwww! I love this little story. I love the play on words and the juxtaposition of cat and fish. It’s a concept even the youngest readers will appreciate. I can see this becoming a ‘read it again’ story in many homes and schools.

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