Tag Archives: genre:comedy

Molly and the Bear Review

cameron-company-molly-and-the-bear-soft-cover-1Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott

Cameron & Company, 2016. 978-1937359850

Synopsis: When pan phobic Bear moves in with Molly and her family, life becomes anything but ordinary. But with a lot of patience and understanding, Molly gradually begins to help Bear outside of his shell…even if there is some crying and whining along the way.

Why I picked it up: I am a huge fan of quirky animal stories, strong female protagonists, and family comics.

Why I finished it: It takes a special sort of person to handle a 900-pound pan phobic grizzly, and Molly happens to have the right personality. Despite the fact that some of Bear’s trivial idiosyncrasies leave Molly scratching her head, she is (to a point) happy to oblige to his requests. It’s not that she’s being dismissive; she merely wants to find a way to relieve some of Bear’s anxieties: his fear of cats, his worry that the air isn’t safe to breathe when they land after a plane flight, the stress of whether or not Molly is going to leave the house when she puts her socks on (sometimes she just has cold feet), and how to get her father to warm up to him. Originally published as a webcomic, Bob Scott has collected the most comprehensive collection of his strips to give the reader a little bit of a taste as to what Molly and the Bear is about. As previously stated, it’s easy to  get drawn in to the comic not only because of the characters, but because Scott’s art pays such a loving homage to the Golden Age comics of which we are so fond. There is a playfulness to the art and the writing that shows the reader just how much fun Scott has writing and drawing the strips. I thought it was particularly clever that he’s thrown in a few artist gags into the mix – they might go over some reader’s heads because they seem somewhat out of context, but I think it’s a way for Scott to poke a little bit of fun at himself. It’s a funny, heartwarming comic about just being yourself and the joys of friendship. For more of Molly and Bear, check out the comic here.

Other related materials: Garfield comics by Jim Davis; Snoopy: Contact! (A Peanuts Collection) by Charles M. Schulz; Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Beginning Pearls: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; The Croc Ate My Homework: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; When Crocs Fly: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; The Mutts Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; AAAA!: A FoxTrot Kids Edition by Bill Amend; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Oh, Brother! Brat Attack! by Bob Weber, Jr. and Jay Stephens

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 4: Dinosaur Dilemma

misadventures_of_salem_hyde_4The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 4: Dinosaur Dilemma by Frank Cammuso

Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 978-1419715358

Synopsis: Salem has a science project to finish…that was due two days ago. But she has a plan: she’s going to go to the museum to explore their Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit to get some inspiration. Except that the dinosaurs in Dinosaurs Alive! aren’t alive…until Salem uses her magic to bring them to life. And when she gets a pet Velociraptor to use for her science project, Salem thinks she’s got it made in the shade.

Why I picked it up: I like to read something light hearted and funny to balance out my more serious reading selections.

Why I finished it: Salem’s antics continue as we venture into this fourth book, and we are just as much in love with her as we were at the beginning. I have to admire the way that she looks at things and wants to make things a little bit more interesting. She’s definitely not a girl who is going to settle for the ordinary, even if it sometimes gets her into some trouble. So even though she’s left her science project until the last minute – as most anyone could do – she has big ideas about how to make it the best ever. Readers with pets will particularly enjoy this book; watching Salem and Whammy try to wrangle Nipper the Velociraptor proves to be a little bit too much. On the one hand, Salem has a lot of good material for her project; on the other, the baby Velociraptor is growing bigger and bigger every day. As with the previous books, Salem will need Whammy and a little bit of luck in order to fix her dinosaur dilemma. Also, I just noticed this, but the book titles (Trouble, Catastrophe, Dilemma) play into the ‘Misadventures’  portion of the series title. It’s a clever touch. I also liked the bit of yellow that is infused into the drawings in this volume. It gives it that same fun, lighthearted feel as its predecessors. It’s a cute story and a great addition to your shelf that is sure to engage readers of all ages.

Other related materials: The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso; The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 2: Big Birthday Bash, The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 3: Cookie Catastrophe by Frank Cammuso; The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 5: Frozen Fiasco by Frank Cammuso; The Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Babymouse books by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy books by D.J. Steinberg; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; Secrets of a Lab Rat books by Trudi Trueit, illustrated by Jim Palliot; Frankie Pickle books by Eric Wight; Amulet books by Kazu Kibuishi

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 3: Cookie Catastrophe Review

misadventures_of_salem_hyde_3The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 3: Cookie Catastrophe by Frank Cammuso

Harry N. Abrams, 2014. 978-1419711992

Synopsis: Salem can’t seem to stick to anything; she’s more apt to give up than she is to finish. So when she joins the Squirrel Scouts, Whammy doesn’t have high hopes. But maybe mean girl Shelly and a cookie competition will give Salem the motivation she needs to see her commitment through. When she wins a camping trip for her troop, she’s not met with a lot of enthusiasm. Will magic be able to make the camping memorable, or will things end in disaster?

Why I picked it up: This series is so gosh darn cute and I love reading about Salem’s creativity in solving her magical mishaps.

Why I finished it: I think one of the reasons I like this series so much is that we were all like Salem. We all get a little tired when we are starting something out and not seeing the results we want, but just like Salem, we learn that if we stick with things, amazing things happen. I remember being in Girl Scouts and having to sell cookies, the difficulty of going door to door never knowing if you were going to make a sale. We feel for Salem when she wants to give up, but Whammy and her desire to stick it to Shelly eventually win out. Even when she gets herself into a sticky situation on the trip to Camp Mystuk, Salem manages to figure out a solution that makes sure everyone – well, almost everyone – comes away happy. The black and white drawings are accented with orange in this book, adding to the quirky quality of the story. Plus, it gives it a unique look next to the other books in the series – creating a sort of mini-rainbow on the shelf. Cammuso’s humor and ability to understand the minds of younger readers really come across on the pages. It’s a comic that celebrates what we can do if we persevere and the joys of finishing a task.

Other related materials: The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso; The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 2: Big Birthday Bash, The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 4: Dinosaur Dilemma by Frank Cammuso; The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 5: Frozen Fiasco by Frank Cammuso; The Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Babymouse books by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy books by D.J. Steinberg; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; Secrets of a Lab Rat books by Trudi Trueit, illustrated by Jim Palliot; Frankie Pickle books by Eric Wight; Amulet books by Kazu Kibuishi

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The Quikpick Papers: The Rat With The Human Face Review

rat_with_the_human_faceThe Quikpick Papers: The Rat With The Human Face by Tom Angleberger, illustrations by Jen Wang

Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 978-1419714894

Synopsis: Lyle isn’t a bad kid. He’s a good kid that happens to find himself in bad situations. Like when he and his friends Dave and Marilla go to a shut down research lab in search of the rat with the human face. It sounded too cool to pass up, and the Quikpick Adventure Society was looking for something else to explore. Plus, this could potentially top the poop fountain. But then they get caught in the lab and trouble ensues. Big time.

Why I picked it up: I wanted to read more about the (mis)adventures of Lyle, Dave, and Marilla.

Why I finished it: It sounds funny to say that the story is action-packed, but there seems to be quite a bit going on in a short amount of time. Lyle wants to tell things like they are, to explain what happened and how everything got so blown out of proportion. Don’t get me wrong: he makes his case pretty well, but the reader can’t deny that while what they did was totally gutsy, it was also pretty reckless. I mean, yeah, the consequences were pretty bad, but things could have been a lot worse. The report reads like a letter from a friend, complete with Dave’s doodles, some photographs, and personal notes from Lyle that give us a little bit more meat to the story. The plot is paced well; Angleberger keeps the reader moving at a pretty fast clip up until the very last pages. But what really sells it for me is the wit and the humor. If the story had been just what was told in the report, that doesn’t feel like enough justification for what the Adventure Society did and how they inevitably got disbanded. The additions of the Rhyme-Jitsu, the slow-startup camera, and the sort of tongue in cheek commentary on consumerism is what makes us really engage in the story. We feel like the Quikpick Adventure Society could be us and our friends trying to do something exciting in a town that is anything but. It’s a fun and funny story about friendship, danger, and how some adults just don’t get it that readers of all ages can enjoy.

Other related materials: The Quikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! by Tom Angleberger, illustrations by Jen Wang; The Quikpick Papers: To Kick a Corpse by Tom Angleberger, illustrations by Jen Wang; Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall! by Tom Angleberger;  Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger; Star Wars: Jedi Academy books by Jeffrey Brown;  How to Eat Fried Worms by Judy Blume; Freckle Juice by Judy Blume; Diary of a Sixth-Grade Ninja books by Marcus Emerson; The Ninja Librarians books by Jen Swann Downey; The Creature from My Closet books by Obert Skye; Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney; Guys Read books edited by Jon Scieszka; The Lemonade War series by Jacqueline Davies

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Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Review

Mrs-Piggle-WiggleMrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

HarperCollins, 2007.   978-0397317127

Synopsis: Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She’s the kind of grown-up you would like to have for a friend-and all her friends are children. She is a little lady with brown sparkly eyes. She lives in an upside-down house, with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. Her husband was a pirate, and she likes to have her friends dig in the back yard for the pirate treasure he buried there. Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children. When a distraught parent calls her because Mary has turned into an Answer-Backer or Dick has become Selfish or Allen has decided to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the answer. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I loved this books as an elementary school student and they are still some of my favorite stories to read to myself or aloud.

Why I finished it: This short chapter book has been charming both children and adults for over sixty years. They are silly, fun, imaginative, and relatable for readers of all ages. How many of us didn’t like picking up our toys, or talked back, or fought with our siblings, or knew of someone who did. The cures themselves are perhaps a little over the top in some cases, but they have become just as well known as the woman who ‘prescribes’ them. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the children she helps are somewhat inspiring, encouraging the reader to think outside the box to solve problems. Now, I probably wouldn’t go as far as to plant radishes on a child that doesn’t bathe, but the point is that there is more than one angle with which we can address issues. It teaches us a lesson about the way we act toward each other and how we interact with the world at large. They’re classic stories that are well-loved by generations and will continue to entertain both children and adults for many more years to come.

Other related materials: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger; Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s Farm by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Maurice Sendak; Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger; Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald and Anne MacDonald Canham, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger; Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren; Charlotte’s Web by E.B White, illustrated by Garth Williams; Stuart Little by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams; Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake; Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish and Herman Parish; The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children edited by William F. Russell

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Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka Review

bignate_thunkathunkaBig Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka by Lincoln Peirce

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449462277

Synopsis: Sixth grade can be a tension convention for Nate Wright.  His baseball team’s just been given the lamest name in Little League history; he’s on the verge of becoming know-it-all Gina’s personal servant for a day; and Spitsy, the closest thing he has to a dog of his own, is in love with a CAT.  Yup, Nate’s up to his ears in stress.  Luckily, the perfect remedy is close at hand:  an empty plastic soda bottle.  All Nate has to do is drum it gently against his head — thunka, thunka, thunka — and the pressures of dealing with Coach John, Mrs. Godfrey, and the terrifying Kim Cressly begin to fade away.  Who knew an empty bottle could be so therapeutic? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: What’s not to love?

Why I finished it: This is some seriously funny stuff. The pressures of middle school can be overwhelming sometimes, and this collection really hits on some of the everyday things that can make life seem overwhelming: pop quizzes, trying to deal with a girl who likes you when you don’t like her, trying to get the attention of the girl you like, parents, siblings, friends, classmates…. Sometimes it just seems like the world is out to get you. Lucky for Nate, he’s got the magical power of sheer determination, nerves of steel, and a plastic bottle to beat against his dad’s head. It’s what’s helping him deal with his baseball team being re-named the Cream Puffs and being nice to Mrs. Godfrey for a whole week so that he won’t get detention, not to mention the fact that the school secretary stole his idea to write a fight song for the school. Peirce gets another ‘A+’ for his work, mixing fantasy with reality and a unique brand of humor to get readers hooked for life. So sit back, relax, and relieve a little stress of your own while you follow Nate through his latest series of antics. It’s a book that will have you cheering for more.

Other related materials: Big Nate: I Can’t Take It! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate’s Greatest Hits by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Welcome to My World by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Game On! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Makes the Grade by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs by Lincoln Peirce; My Weirdest School books by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot; Timmy Failure books by Stephan Pastis; Middle School books by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits, illustrated by Laura Park; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

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Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors

desmond_pucket_3Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors by Mark Tatulli

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449466282.

Synopsis: New year, same school…or so Desmond thinks. Turns out his arch-nemesis Mr. Needles is now the Principal, Keith Schimsky (y’know, the younger brother of the lovely Tina) grew into a giant, and the annual Carnival of Horrors has been cancelled. But when he finds out that the librarian may lose her job, he hatches a plan that may just be able to save both the librarian and the school carnival.

Why I picked it up: Fun? Check. Funny? Check. Monsters? Check, check. What’s not to love?

Why I finished it: This series has earned a special place on my shelf because of its delightful mix of horror, humor, and heart. It makes me remember what it was like to be a kid pursuing their passions even if they seem to go against what everyone else likes. On the surface, Desmond may seem single-minded and lazy, but as a reader you know that he’s got good intentions. He has the ability to see a need and finds a way to use his talents to meet that need – even if scaring isn’t the optimal solution. Tatulli’s story once again comes alive in the art – whether it be Desmond’s scribbles or the intermittent illustrations between paragraphs. It’s another reason to like this series: the hybrid novel/graphic novel really expounds on the characters and their actions while giving the reader a visual point of reference for some of the tricks Desmond is using to make sure the show goes on. Highly imaginative and humorous, Desmond will continue to make magic with readers both on and off the page.

Other related materials: Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic by Mark Tatulli; Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters by Mark Tatulli; Lio’s Astonishing Tales: From the Haunted Crypt of Unknown Horrors by Mark Tatulli; The Odd Squad books by Michael Fry; Alien Invasion in my Backyard: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling; The Ghostly Thief of Time: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling; George Brown, Class Clown by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by Aaron Blecha; My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish books by Mo O’Hara, illustrated by Marek Jagucki; Frank Einstein books by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Timmy Failure books by Stephen Pastis

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