Archive for Humor

The Spring Un-Fair (The Secret Knock Club #2)

Written by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud

Illustrated by Adam McHeffey

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This adorable, easy to read book is like a third grade level combination of a Junie B. Jones and Amelia Bedelia.  There are the same type friendships as in Junie B. and similar misunderstandings like you find with Amelia Bedelia.  Sometimes you can understand how she could misunderstand words like Mrs. Carrot instead of Mrs. Carrick.  Of course, other times, it seems that she just likes to be different, calling yoga class yogurt class.

This is a great problem solving book as Agnes and her friends must come up with a way to raise money to provide a dunk booth for their school’s spring fair.  They decide to give a concert and Agnes names herself the lead singer for their rock band.  She and Fudgy must overcome a pretty serious case of stage fright.  Fortunately, they have the help of their music teacher, Mrs. Roman.  Unfortunately, the day of the concert Agnes comes down with a very bad case of laryngitis.  But, Fudgy’s older brother has a band of his own and with a little bit of pleading, Agnes and her friends are able to convince Reggie and his band to perform so the concert can go on.  It was a great show!  Agnes and her friends, with a little help from Reggie and his friends, were able to raise enough money to turn the spring un-fair into a spring fair.

Problem solving, overcoming fears, and working together are just a few of the social lessons to be learned.  Using this book as a read aloud would give the teacher numerous opportunities to help students gain valuable inference skills.  There are plenty of possibilities for creative writing prompts.  “What would you do if you needed to raise money for your school?”  And then there are the math possibilities.  “If a dunk tank costs $150, how much could you charge and how many tickets would you need to sell to raise enough money?”  Other great uses for this book include guided reading groups and literature circles.

Any child who loves Junie B. Jones will also love Agnes.  They are two peas in a pod.  The Secret Knock Club and the rock band will appeal to both boys and girls.  But, parents beware.  You may end up with a rock band in your garage.

  • Spring UnfairTitle:  The Spring Un-Fair (The Secret Knock Club #2)
  • Author:  Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud
  • Illustrator:  Adam McHeffey
  • Publisher:  Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • Reviewer:  Sandi Waymire
  • Hardcover:  111 pages
  • ISBN: 9780761462156
  • Genre:  contemporary fiction
  • Lexile score:  530

Dodsworth in Tokyo

Written and Illustrated by Tim Egan

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Dodsworth in Tokyo is the newest installment in Tim Egan’s series about two characters, Dodsworth and a duck, traveling around the globe. Egan introduced readers to Dodsworth in the book entitled, The Pink Refrigerator, and though many fans consider the character of Dodsworth to be a mouse, the author himself is unsure. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly that can be found online, Tim Egan said, “I think he’s a mouse. I’ll never declare it.”

Whatever animal Dodsworth happens to be, he’s a delight in each of his books as he travels with his companion, a misbehaving duck. Prior to traveling to Tokyo, Dodsworth and the duck visited New York, Paris, London, and Rome in other books of similar names.

In the adventure in Tokyo, third grade readers will delight and giggle as the duck bumps into a rickshaw while busily looking at the signs along the crowded street, and falls into a koi pond. The duck has to be rescued by Dodsworth. Who knew a duck couldn’t swim? This in turn, causes a lady to send a tray of wagashi (Japanese desserts) flying through the air. But the duck redeems himself by returning a little girl’s favorite toy, a kendama.

Author Tim Egan succeeds effortlessly in teaching readers about Japanese culture and introducing Japanese words, like, arigato, rickshaw, bonsai trees, karate, kendama, wagashi, sumi-e paintings, Zen temple, Taiko drummers, and sushi.

Because some of the words do not follow phonetic rules, this book would be best for skilled third grade readers if the children are reading the book alone. Even skilled readers may need pronunciation help with many of the words. However, this book would make an excellent addition to a geography lesson about Japan, as a read aloud by the teacher. A class might enjoy reading the Dodsworth books in order of completion, with a world map displayed on a board. Place flags on the map of the various places Dodsworth visits and encourage the kids to learn to recognize the cities and countries Dodsworth and his misbehaving duck visit.

  • Dodsworth in TokyoTITLE: Dodsworth in Tokyo
  • AUTHOR: Tim Egan
  • PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
  • REVIEWER: Julie Lavender
  • EDITION: Hard Cover, 48 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-87745-7
  • GENRE: Humor

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Written by David Almond

Illustrated by Dave McKean

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Ancient myths are fascinating for those at the third grade reading level, especially when the story is a fresh take on mythology. This interesting story will capture youngsters with comprehension at the third grade level with a story full of gods, magic, and adventure, although older readers will enjoy this as well.

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf  is a creation myth about a world designed by some gods who did not quite finish the job. They created a world with, a sea, a sky, and mountains. There were some people and creatures and trees and plants, but there were also many blank spaces. The gods spend their time napping and lying around the clouds having cake and tea instead of finishing their work. Some young people, Harry, Sue, and Little Ben, wondered about the blank spaces. They feel like there should be creatures to fill those blanks. Little Ben thinks there should be a mousey thing. He creates one from plants, wool, and nuts and forms them into a mousey shaped thing and conjures it into a living thing. Sue decides to try to make a birdie kind of thing, and she pulls that off as well. Harry creates a snake from mud and brings it to life. The gods snooze on and never interfere. The real trouble is caused when Harry and Sue get together and decide what needs to happen is a wolf. Little Ben tries to stop them, but they are intent on bringing their creature to life.

Creation myths exist in every culture in the world. This would be a wonderful book to add to a unit on creation myths. Because it is so unusual and fresh, this will give youngsters a great starting point for writing and illustrating their own creation myths. Both the author and the illustrator have web sites. The author’s page can be found at and the illustrator’s site is

  • Mouse Bird Snake WolfTitle: Mouse Bird Snake Wolf
  • Author: David Almond
  • Illustrator: Dave McKean
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Rosi Hollinbeck
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5912-7
  • Genre: Fiction, Creation Myth, Graphic Story
  • Lexile Score: 640


Escape from Silver Street Farm

Written by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Katharine McEwen

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Three animal-loving children, Meera, Karl, and Gemma, get together to form a farm within the city. They love every aspect of developing a farm—even shoveling poop– alongside Flora MacDonald, a young Scottish farmer whose experience in farming is invaluable. As they prepare for the Grand Opening, they hear the results of the constant head-butting of their latest arrival, Kenelottl Mossworthy Merridale (Kenny, for short). Despite the noise, the children think everything is set until Flora announces that their prize attractions, the always-nervous turkeys, have flown the coop. As if that isn’t bad enough, Bobo and Bitzi, the Silver Street sheep—formerly known as poodle puppies—have also disappeared. Since the sheep are the newly arrived ram’s new wives, it is only sensible that the children use him to sniff them out. With the sheep in the grocery store and the turkeys about to take a frightening ride in a bouncy castle over the dam, life is exciting for all involved! But is the mystery solved? Not yet! There’s still the matter of the unexplained hole in the fence and the hidden tunnel. Enter Bish Bosh and Squirt for some additional entertainment.

As the sequel to Welcome to Silver Street Farm, Escape from Silver Street Farm is the second in a series of six books. Full of humor, the series should appeal to animal lovers at the third grade reading level. If teachers like the idea of teaching children the value of taking charge with the aid of a supportive adult or two, this book should definitely be added to their reading list.

About the author:

About the illustrator:

Related video:

  • Escape from Silver Street FarmTitle: Escape from Silver Street Farm
  • Author: Nicola Davies
  • Illustrator: Katharine McEwen
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Bonita Herold
  • Hardback: 80 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6133-5
  • Genre: Humor
  • Lexile score: 810


The Deductive Detective

Written by Brian Rock

Illustrated by Sherry Rogers

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When a cake is stolen from a cake contest and there are twelve possible suspects, who do you call? Duck, the deductive detective! He assesses the situation and one by one eliminates suspects based on the evidence. The Deductive Detective is a charming read-aloud, but for a third grade class to really appreciate the puns, students may also read it individually. Brian Rock, a former educator himself, also writes allusions throughout his book. To understand puns like the Elephant’s statement, “I come from a long line of Tudors”, or cow’s recollection that her great-grandmother once “jumped over the moon,” students must remember who the Tudors were or a nursery rhyme.

As a comprehension activity, students may be asked to pick two puns and explain them as if teaching an English as a Second Language (ESL) student. This type of activity promotes comprehension of the text and empathy for ESL students. This book is also a fantastic book to bridge literacy and math concepts. The overlap of the math concept subtraction and the process of elimination are clear.  As another extension activity to help students understand the concept of deductive reasoning, students may play the games like “Guess Who,” “Battleship,” or “Twenty Questions.” Each of these games requires students to use clues and the process of elimination to reach the solution to a problem. Literacy and problem solving skills are two of the most crucial skills for students to acquire, and games along with The Deductive Detective are a fantastic way to learn.

  • Title: The Deductive Detective
  • Author: Brian Rock
  • Illustrator: Sherry Rogers
  • Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-60718-6250
  • Genre: fiction/deductive reasoning/mystery
  • Lexile: 670

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny

Written by Katrina Germein
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

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My Dad Thinks He’s Funny is a delightfully sarcastic book that almost any kid can relate to. For any child who has a parent whose first response to a complaint about a sore finger or foot is “just chop it off,” this book will provide plenty of giggles and eye rolling. Katrina Germein perfectly captures the silly ways that many dads have of showing their love and humor. This book is a fantastic read aloud for a third grade class; it encourages skills in fluency and inflection to give more meaning to the text. This book seems like a natural fit in a unit about families or toward the end of year when students are thinking about Fathers’ Day. Teachers may have students fashion a card or gift for dads in a way that echoes the format of My Dad Thinks He’s Funny: recording an example of how their dads demonstrate certain traits or qualities. This book is a lovely gift for a special man at Father’s Day, bringing unity to the giver and receiver.

As an art extension activity for this book, students may create illustrations in the same style as Tom Jellett. His multi-media illustrations are a unique combination of simple drawings and real materials. Students may start with easy combinations like markers and colored chalks on paper, or more advanced artists may move to combining these and raw materials like fabric and natural elements. To bring art and literacy together, students may even write and illustrate their own book! Whether for home or class, My Dad Thinks He’s Funny is a great addition to a book collection.

  • My Dad Thinks Hes FunnyTitle: My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
  • Author: Katrina Germein
  • Illustrator: Tom Jellett
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Hardback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0761461807
  • Genre: fiction/fathers
  • Lexile: 620

Tallulah’s Toe Shoes

Written by Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

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In ballet, and most pursuits, there is always another level to strive for. Tallulah is a good, but young, ballet dancer. When her teachers tell her she is not yet ready to dance on her toes, she knows they are wrong. Tallulah finds an old pair of toe shoes, stuffs them with tissues, and tries to dance. She imagines herself as the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty. Then she looks in the mirror and sees herself as a rat. Tallulah must accept that she is not yet ready. Just as her teachers said, her body, her feet, and her skills cannot yet dance on pointe. But equally important, the level she is at is good.

Everyone who has ever enjoyed looking at a ballet, will enjoy the pictures. They dance off the page, but do not take themselves too seriously. We see how Tallulah imagines herself— but then, in a style reminiscent of Hilary Knight of Eloise fame—we see what the young ballet dancer really looks like as well. Tallulah’s younger brother offers a low- key counterpart to the intensity of Tallulah’s drive.

While this book will appeal to the second and third grade ballet enthusiasts, its message — enjoy the journey— is good for many kids (and adults for that matter). Tallulah doesn’t need to be in such a hurry to get into toe shoes. They will wait for her, and she has plenty more to explore right where she is. The book will also make a fine read aloud for younger children. The reader can ask for the children’s help in following the dancers across the page, learning sequencing of images as well as words.

Additional Resources:

Tallulah’s website:

Marilyn Singer’s website:

Alexandra Boiger’s website:

  • Tallulahs Toe ShoesTitle: Tallulah’s Toe Shoes
  • Author: Marilyn Singer
  • Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
  • Publisher: Clarion Books
  • Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
  • Hardcover: number of pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-48223-1
  • Genre: fiction: picture book


What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day

Written by Martha Simpson

Illustrated by Jana Christy

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Ah, those wonderful parent days are quickly approaching, yet again this year.  Yes, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Each year children of all ages across the country struggle with what to get their parents on those days.  What is the perfect gift that sums up a years or lifetimes worth of love?

In What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day, this little boy is no different.  Rather than telling ideas of what to give, this little boy shares some past experiences of what NOT to give.  Charming and well written, this book is well suited for second to third grade level reading.  These children should easily be able to comprehend the story.  Children will walk away with a comical sense of what not to give your mom.  The little boy in this story has stayed away from the social convention of flowers or candy for gifts, and has opted for the unconventional. For example, most moms will not enjoy a tub of fat worms, nor chewed up shoes.  There is however, a contrast/comparison of some mothers who might rather enjoy these ideas.

What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day, is illustrated with bright colors and whimsy, that children will enjoying looking at.  In the end the little boy does come up with the perfect gift.  A gift any mom would cherish from her young or old children. What is it?  Pick up What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day and find out.

  • What Not to Give Your MomTitle:  What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day
  • Author:  Martha Simpson
  • Illustrator:  Jana Christy
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing
  • Reviewer: Cheri Liddy
  • ISBN: 9781477816479
  • Genre: fiction

Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout

Written by Megan McDonald

Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

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Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout is sure to make its way to reading lists as it will stretch both reading skills and science literacy. This eighth book in the Stink and Judy Moody series by prolific author Megan McDonald takes Stink on a froggy adventure. Stink Moody can’t swim his way out of the Polliwog level swim class because his head just won’t go under water. Then, frogs start popping up everywhere – in his shower, boots, and bathtub. Stink bonds with the frogs and convinces his friends to visit a vernal pool. There, they learn about challenges amphibians face such as shrinking habitat and pollutant-induced mutations. Croak! Squeenk! Ribbet! Stink is not happy about that and decides to join a frog-counting project.

When Stink is licked by a blue frog (surely a radioactive mutant), things get a little freaky. As he hippity-hops through the day, Stink gobbles up once-despised raisins which now look like tasty flies. The webbing betweens his toes seems to grow, and he is tempted to spend the night in the dark, damp basement. When he is eager to go to swim class, Stink’s sure he’s turning into a frog!

The story comes to a comforting conclusion as Stink froggy-kicks his way across the pool, happily dives underwater, and ribbets his way from the polliwog to the frog level in swim class.

With plenty of boy-appeal and humor on the third grade level, this book will inspire future scientists. It is perfect for young readers who enjoy froggy facts and reading games such as fun quizzes. (Did you know Northern green frogs eat their own dead skin?!) Several pages of Stink Frog superhero comics will please graphic novel fans.

Although the text includes a few inaccuracies (for example, the implication that skinks are amphibians), teachers will appreciate the scientific content (life cycle, scientific skills, field science techniques) as well as the conservation message. The classic classroom activity to accompany this book is raising tadpoles, but the book would also complement field trips to a pond or wetland area and a unit on freshwater ecology. Additional resources and lessons can be found on the website of the Center for Global Environmental Education, A Thousand Friends of Frogs (, a project begun by students who found malformed frogs and decided to do something about it.

  • StinkTitle: Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout (Book #8)
  • Author:  Megan McDonald
  • Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Heather L. Montgomery
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0763661403
  • Genre: Chapter book, nature, contemporary, science

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Illustrated by Joe Berger

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang seems to have a mind of her own. The amazing flying, submarine-ing, time traveling car takes the Tooting family on one adventure after another. Whether the family is escaping from a field full of Tyrannosaurus Rexes in the Cenozoic Era, riding in a car race in Prohibition-era New York or experiencing the lost city of El Dorado in the wilds of the Amazon, life with a luxury car demands ingenuity and stamina. Yet back at their home in England is an even bigger problem. A super-villain has moved into their house, touching all of their stuff. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is taking them to these different places in history for a reason. Dad, Mom, Jem, and Lucy are constantly seeking clues to solve the mystery of what Chitty is trying to tell them. Each member of the family is also learning that he or she has something important to contribute to solving the puzzle, even baby Harry. They soon feel like there isn’t any problem too big for them to handle. Good thing! The book ends with a cliff-hanger as the family is stranded in 1966 without Chitty.

This is a fun read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. With a classic knack of British understatement, the humor is endearing. Jem is an inventive, engineering type of boy and Lucy is a brainy girl so both boy and girl readers will have someone to cheer for. This would be a great class read aloud for either third or fourth grade. Each place the Tootings land has something to do with Chitty’s history. Have the students make a chart and record what part of Chitty’s story is represented in each location as a reading worksheet or critical reading activity. There is an activity kit, a teacher’s guide and a book trailer available at the publisher’s website: (

  • Chitty BangTITLE: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time
  • AUTHOR: Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Joe Berger
  • PUBLISHER: Candlewick, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 234 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5982-0
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