Archive for Humor

World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of

Written by J. Patrick Lewis

Illustrated by  Anna Raff

Buy on Amazon

What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas?  Independence Day?  National Skunk Day?  What?  You have never heard of National Skunk Day?  Why, it comes around every year on June 14.  To commemorate this momentous day, J. Patrick Lewis wrote this poem.  “If the skunk did not exist, then the skunk would not be mist.”

National Skunk Day not your cup of tea?  What about Dragon Appreciation Day on January 16?  “At every meal, bow your head, fold your wings, and say ‘Graze’.”  Still not ringing your bell?  What about National Hippo Day or Bulldogs are Beautiful Day?

Whichever new holiday you find to your fancy, you will certainly find many, many uses for this hootin’,  hollerin’ book in your classroom library.  Children can connect what they read with their own lives.  For instance, cats on Happy Mew Year for Cats Day may eat Mice Crispies while the children eat rice crispies.    What about when they play “mewsic”?  Pulling several of these out would provide loads of fun reading activities.

Our language can be a little frustrating to fourth grade children.  Good and food should rhyme.  Why don’t they?  Well, before you get too frustrated, turn to page ten and read about World Rat Day.  “The Rat Is…the mous-tache in the trache, the wrong-doer in the soer.”

Too often creative writing is stifled due to fears of breaking grammar rules.  Reading this book to your children should give them more confidence in writing what is in their heads without worrying about grammar mistakes.  We have textbooks to help with that part.

The illustrations are adorable and appealing to readers of all ages.  But beware.  This is a book that should be read by the teacher before being read to the class.  All kinds of hysteria might erupt if the teacher were to celebrate Limerick Day (May 15) by reading, “A mother baboon is a beauty, her baby baboon is a cutie and the whole baboon troop starts to whistle and whoop when the baby starts shaking her booty”.  Oh so much fun.  Pump some poetry into your day with this book.  You won’t be sorry.

J. Patrick Lewis attempts to visit 50 elementary schools each year.  For more information about both him and his schedule visit .

More illustrations by Anna Raff can be found at .  Her blog ( ) is full of fun stuff and information.

  • World Rat DayTitle:  World Rat Day:  Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of
  • Author:  J. Patrick Lewis
  • Illustrator:  Anna Raff
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer:  Sandi Waymire
  • Hardcover:  36 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5402-3
  • Genre:  Humor

Sir Gawain the True

Written by Gerald Morris
Illustrated by Aaron Renier

Buy on Amazon

An entertaining adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this is the second book in the Knight’s Tales series. In this story, King Arthur’s court is struggling with how to behave. They have skills like bashing each other with long pointy sticks called lances. But more and more the knights are expected to be polite. Being courteous is an idea that doesn’t make sense to the men of action. When Gawain rescues a woman from a dragon and boasts about his feat, he is confused by her irritation. Then, when King Arthur is also annoyed, Gawain begins to examine his behavior for ways he could have reacted differently. Then a green giant crashes King Arthur’s New Year’s Eve party, although he is polite about it, and offers a strange game. Trade blows with his axe. He will take the first axe-strike and Gawain will get his turn this time next year. Gawain accepts the challenge and promptly chops off the giant’s head. The giant simply picks up his head and says, “See you this time next year.” Through a series of unexpected meetings, Gawain is able to redeem himself with the lady he first offended and trick the giant while still honoring his word and learning a few manners along the way.

Told with humor that will appeal to young readers, the story is accessible and can even teach a thing or two about the value of courtesy and friendship without being preachy. The black and white drawings pick up the humor to illustrate the story with the same sassiness that is found in the text. This is a good class read aloud or appropriate for a fourth grader to read to a younger reading buddy. The plot twists and turns are well-laid out. A possible literacy activity would be to make a chart of turning points and then pose the question, “What would change if Gawain made a different decision?” Students could write their own discussion questions for this one because of the great discussion potential.

  • Sir GawainTITLE: Sir Gawain the True
  • AUTHOR: Gerald Morris
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Aaron Renier
  • PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin/Sandpiper
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Paperback, 118 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-544-02264-5
  • GENRE: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Classic adaptations

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

Written by Ellis Weiner
Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes

Buy on Amazon

How often do you get to read a book where the end and the beginning are on the same page? That’s just the crazy devices fourth graders will enjoy in this romp through the lives of Abigail and John Templeton.

As a read aloud book, it’s also appropriate for younger kids. Despite the humor, there are a lot of emotions shown and lessons to be learned. The twelve-year-old twins have lost their mother. Their father, a professor and inventor, is having trouble dealing with the loss of his wife. Getting a “ridiculous dog” helps a little because he has to go outside to walk the dog, Cassie. But he decides that moving to a new university is the answer. When father and kids show up at “Tick-Tock Tech,” the kids’ nickname for the new school, father is confronted by villainous Dean D. Dean, who claims the professor stole his invention. Dean D. Dean kidnaps the twins in order to get the professor to sign over rights to the invention, but the kids, of course, outsmart him and his twin, Dan. For one thing, the twins each have a hobby that proves useful in thwarting the Deans. Plus they are smarter than the Deans. The invention, the Personal One-Man Helicopter or POMH, turns out to still have a few bugs.

The author and illustrator make such a great team, you would think they were of the same humorous mind. The illustrator seems to understand each and every crazy invention Professor Templeton comes up with. Throughout the text, the author speaks directly to the reader through the narrator, adding to the silliness. This is planned as the first in a series about the Templetons. The book and eventual series have their own website at, where kids can continue the fun with the narrator.

  • Templeton TwinsTitle: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea
  • By: Ellis Weiner
  • Illustrated by: Jeremy Holmes
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2012
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8118-6679-8
  • Genre: Chapter book, Humor, Family
  • Lexile Score: 850L

Lemonade Wars: The Candy Smash

Written by Jacqueline Davies
Illustrated by Cara Llewellyn

Buy on Amazon

Valentine candy hearts mysteriously appear at each desk in Room 4-0. Day is hard enough between decorating their boxes and all the mushy stuff. Top it off with Mrs. Overton’s poetry study and weirdness is the order of the day. Evan finds that he actually likes the poetry and looks forward to the Poem of the Day. Jessie, his sister, would rather write top-notch newspaper stories like their reporter father. She has started a fourth grade newspaper and is looking for her front-page story. Then the candy hearts show up and she decides that solving the mystery will be the blockbuster lead story she is looking for. The hearts seem to be the only clue to who has a crush on who. While Evan is busy writing poems and hiding them, Jessie is investigating (some might call it sneaking around). She decides to do a survey since the “crush” angle is the only one she has. Jessie seems to be on a collision course to embarrassing everyone in Room 4-0, especially her own brother. » Read more

Fame, Fortune, and the Bran Muffins of Doom

Written and illustrated by Marty Kelley

Buy on Amazon

Simon takes life seriously, very seriously. When he decides that he and his friends will achieve fame and, more importantly, fortune by winning the school talent show, he goes about it seriously.None of them can sing, dance or play a musical instrument, but those are simply problems to solve. Simon is sure he can come up with a solution as long as Mike McAlpine and his minion-friends leave Simon alone. They don’t.

Then there is Stacy, a girl who would be cute if she would quit interrupting Simon. Even Simon’s friends do not see what he is trying to do and start fooling around. Silence, he tells them. It is always up to Simon to keep everyone on track. Then Mrs. Annand yells at them when they try to rehearse and even throws hard bran muffins, interrupting and possibly causing a concussion. In spite of all these problems, Simon gets the group on stage with an act of sorts.

This is perfect for the core curriculum mission of challenging students to read at a higher grade level, although it has a 2nd grade Lexile measure. The situations seem better suited for the 4th grade audience. Simon and all the characters are extremes. Simon is the smart kid who uses big words and bosses everyone around. The story is in first-person from Simon’s point of view so be ready for a lot of bossing around. Munch is the gross kid who will eat anything, so he is really gross. Ralph is the sickest sick kid of all time. Mike is the stupidest bully and his minions are even more stupid. Mrs. Douglass has checked out far more than the usual retired-in-place teacher. The only “normal” person is Stacy and she’s amused by the whole crowd. Even with all this silliness, the story comes together with a satisfying ending. Good fare for the Captain Underpants devotee, but readers might learn some words along the way. There’s a Simon glossary at the end which bumps up the reading level substantially. It would be a good class read aloud since a teacher will be more able to read most of the big words without stopping. There are a few challenging ones even for grown-ups. Check out Simon’s plans: ( where you can play a game or check up on his latest schemes.
Fame Fortune and Bran Muffins

  • TITLE: Fame, Fortune, and the Bran Muffins of Doom
  • AUTHOR: Marty Kelley
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Marty Kelley
  • PUBLISHER: Holiday House, 2012
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 154 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-8234-2606-5
  • LEXILE: 660

The Adventures of Titch and Mitch: Trolls of Sugar Loaf Wood

Written by Garth Edwards
Illustrated by Max Stasyuk

Buy on Amazon

Titch and Mitch, two adventurous pixies, are back in this collection of stories featuring their magic flying bicycle. All they have to do is yell ‘up, up and away’ and they are pedaling through the air. One day, Titch and Mitch have a party. It begins to rain but, when the storm is over, there is a beautiful rainbow. Encouraged by their friends, Titch and Mitch ride in search of the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Instead of a pot of gold, they encounter a hermit. He shows them treasure of a different kind: books. » Read more

Miss Sally Anne and the Panther

Written by Bobbie Miller
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Buy on Amazon

Miss Sally Ann can rope a hurricane and tie it to her spinning wheel. She can knit in one hand and bake buttermilk bread with the other. But her biggest challenge is to face Fireeyes, a huge panther determined to have Miss Sally Ann’s bear skin coat for his aching shoulders. While she gathers onions for her stew, he comes eye to eye with her. » Read more

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities

Written by Mike Jung

Illustrated by Mike Maihack

Buy on Amazon

Welcome to Copperplate City, a world where superheroes are in every city and an alert system sends out city-wide texts when their local hero, Captain Stupendous, is on the job.Vincent Wu and his friends have organized the only serious Captain Stupendous fan club in town.  They have, like, an archive of material on him and all the other fan clubs are lame.  So they know something is wrong when Captain Stupendous is tricked by the latest super villain, Professor Mayhem and his indestructible robot. » Read more

Recent Entries »