humorous

Book Review: The BFG by Roald Dahl

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BFGThe BFG

Written by Roald Dahl 
Illustrated by Quentin Blake 
Published in 1982
Genre/Topics: Humor, Fantasy
Ages: 6+, 212 pages 

 

Most people don’t even think giants exist and those that do are usually very afraid of them. However, the Big Friendly Giant or the BFG doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Sophie is an orphan who first meets the BFG while looking out her window at night. The BFG notices and reaches through her window to take her away, since nobody would believe her if she said she saw a giant. Soon Sophie realizes that the BFG is friendly and has no plans to eat her, instead he was out at night putting dreams with his long trumpet into children’s ears. It’s not always pleasant, because the BFG is the smallest among other giants who desire to eat human beans every night. When the large and revolting giants are out eating human beans, the BFG captures dreams and stores thousands into jars. Sophie learns where the giants plan to find their next meal and the BFG and her form a plan to stop them before it’s too late. 

The BFG has all the standard humor, fun, and zany words that are unique to Roald Dahl. So far I haven’t been disappointed by one of his books. I’m sure you’ll wish you also knew a giant, well at least a friendly one.

Back to School Book: Butterflies in My Stomach

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Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards 

Written & Illustrated by Serge Bloch 
Published  by Sterling on August 5, 2008
Genre/Topics: First Day of School, Humorous, Idioms
Ages: 4+, 32 pages 

The first day of school brings many emotions from excitement to nerves. This is a book to hopefully ease those butterflies in your stomach before you begin school. We’ve all heard unique speech expressions that don’t need an explanation, such as ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, ‘cat caught your tongue’, ‘the early bird gets the worm’, ‘tickled pink’, ‘apple of my eye’, and many more. However, as children these expressions can be very confusing especially on the first day of school when you’re already nervous.

A child begins his first day of school and feels awful from the start when he wakes on ‘the wrong side of the bed’ and almost missed the bus which would cause him to be ‘in a real pickle’. The teacher tried to ease his worries stating that he was ‘all ears’ when he was ready to talk then read a funny book which had students ‘laughing their head off’. He visits the school librarian and learns that you can ‘get lost in a book’. He hopes to play outside at recess, yet everybody must come inside because ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, but the boy is sad because he doesn’t see his dog from the sky. The story concludes with the boy arriving at home and greeting his dog, which made him feel as ‘happy as a puppy with two tails’.

I really enjoyed this book. There are a total of thirty-five idioms throughout the book. You can play a game to find all the idioms and then see who can explain them. It’s amazing how idioms make each language unique. The illustrations are great, because most of the book is simple black and white but the highlighted idiom is in color. I highly suggest this book for the first day of school or whenever you want a good laugh.

 

Book Review: Chopsticks

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Chopsticks

Chopsticks
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Published by Hyperion Books on January 24th 2012
Genre/Topics: Humorous, Friendship, Be Yourself 
Ages: 4-8, 40 pages 
 
Chopsticks were best friends who were always together and did everything together. Nobody could remember a time when they weren’t together. However, something tragic occurred when they attempted new skills together. Chopstick was whisked away for help. and luckily it was a clean break, so Chopstick would soon be better. Chopstick stayed next to Chopstick each day until somebody mentioned that it was time to move on and try new things without Chopstick. Soon Chopstick learned new talents without his friend. Finally, Chopstick was better and together they learned that being apart actually made them stronger yet they still remained great friends. 
 
I really enjoyed Chopsticks and it made me laugh as I read it. It’s a wonderful book to teach young children that it’s okay to work together, but also be apart. There are no pronouns (he/she) in the book, so the name Chopstick is used for both.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Book Review: The Witches

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The Witches

Written by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Published by Puffin Books on January 1, 1983
Genre/Topics: Humorous, Fantasy
Ages: 8+, 208 pages 

 

The Witches is another wonderful book by Roald Dahl that is sure to delight many readers. The story begins with a young boy who is orphaned when his parents die in a terrible car accident. In their will, the boy is to be cared for by his Norwegian grandmother who is an expert at how to identify witches. She explains that witches are not what people typically think, such as they don’t wear black hats or ride broomsticks. His grandmother states that witches instead appear like ordinary women with ordinary jobs. This is a witch’s motto: One child a week is fifty-two a year, Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear. Throughout the book, the boy learns more about how to distinguish a witch from a normal woman. His grandmother and him stay at a hotel during the summer and this is when the fun really begins. He had a pet mouse that he tried to teach tricks well the hotel manager was very upset to have a mouse running around. The boy sneaked into an empty room that stated ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’, so it must be a safe place to train his pet mouse. Suddenly women enter the room and he soon learns that they are actually not normal women at all, but witches. I’ll let you discover what happens next.

I highly enjoyed this Roald Dahl book. I believe even adults will get a laugh. The book had me guessing what would happen next and if the boy could save the day.

Book Review: The Frog Prince Continued

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The Frog Prince Continued

Written by Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by Steve Johnson
Published May 1, 1991 by Puffin 
Genre/Topics: Humor, Alternative Fairy Tale 
Ages: 6+, 32 pages 
 

I  love Jon Scieszka’s book The True Story of the Three Little Pigsso I had high expectations for The Frog Prince Continued. I was not disappointed as I laughed throughout the book. There is a unique twist on “happily ever after”, ever since the Frog Prince kissed the Princess. She’s also not happy, since his tongue always sticks out, she finds lily pads in his pockets, and he leaps everywhere. So the Frog Prince begins a journey looking for a witch to turn him back into a frog. He meets interesting characters along his journey such as a witch who wants him to finish eating an apple, but he knows his fairy tales and doesn’t eat it. Then he meets a witch with a gingerbread house who is expecting Hansel and Gretel soon. Finally, the Frog Prince returns home to discover that the Princess was worried about him. She kissed his lips and both turned into frogs and together they lived happily ever after.

 

 

Book Review: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

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Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator 

Written by Roald Dahl 
Read by Eric Idle 
Published on August 12, 1972 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Audio Edition Published July 6, 2004 by Harper Festival
Ages: 8+, 176 pages
Audio Edition: 3 hours and 30 minutes 
Genre: Fantasy 
 

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator picks up right where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concludes. Charlie has won the chocolate factory prize and is now in the glass elevator with his entire family. Inside the great glass elevator are Charlie, Mr. Willy Wonka, Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina, and Mr. and Mrs. Bucket. They are riding high into space. Along the way, they encounter Vermicious Knids, Gnoolies, a space hotel, a strange communication with the President of the United States, unique vitamins that increase and decrease your age, and more crazy adventures with Mr. Willy Wonka. I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory more, but you’re in for another delightful Roald Dahl treat with this book.

 
 
 

Book Review: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

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Dead End in Norvelt 

Written by Jack Gantos  
Published on September 13, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Ages 10+, 341 pages 
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humorous
 

Jack Gantos is grounded for the entire summer in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, in 1962.  How did Jack get himself grounded during the entire summer? He accidentally  shot a bullet from his father’s Japanese rifle and disobeyed his mother’s commands when he cut down her corn crop. To get out of the house, Jack agrees to help his elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, type obituaries. Miss Volker is a Norvelt town original and it is her duty to report  obituaries for  the original Norvelt citizens. The obituaries include much more than just information about the deceased, instead it is historical narratives about how their life impacted the small town. There are many colorful characters in Norvelt. Jack’s best friend is Bunny whose father is the town undertaker. Mr. Spizz rides an adult tricycle and adores Miss Volker, yet she has no plans to marry him. Each obituary leads to new adventures with real historical information scrambled in the book. Miss Volker always reminds Jack that people need to learn from the past, because mistakes can be repeated. Sprinkled inside the story are Girl Scout cookies, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Hells Angels, melted wax, a homemade airplane, a bloody nose, and even a possible murder.

Dead End in Norvelt won the Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction in 2012. Personally, I think this book was very humorous at times but I’m not sure it fully deserves a Newbery Medal. I think the book had little emotion, plot, character development, and it didn’t leave me with a lasting moral or lesson the way many wonderful Newbery Medal books have done. I enjoyed that there was real history throughout the pages, since Jack spent his grounded time reading historical books and he learned information from Miss Volker when writing the obituaries. If you’re searching for a book with sarcastic humor, death, true facts, and a glance into 1962 as a child then this may be your book.