Category Archives: humorous fiction

Worst. Holiday. Ever. – Charlie Higson

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Penguin AustraliaISBN: 9780241414781

May 2021

  • ISBN: 9780241414781

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

See, I associate Charlie Higson’s name with Young Bond, thrilling spy adventures, evil villains – you know the sort of thing so this absolutely hilarious book took me completely by surprise.

Stan is the only child of pretty ordinary parents and lives in a pretty ordinary suburban house and, in fact, lives a pretty ordinary life. He’s not what you would call an extrovert – or confident – or actually, not very interesting and certainly not brave, but he is a nice kid. So when he is invited to go with a school friend, Felix and his family on a holiday to Italy, he finds himself packed and at the airport with Felix’ uncle and aunt, whom he’s never met, going to a foreign country to stay with an entire villa full of strangers with only Felix – and a very tenuous friendship to bolster himself.

Stan’s list of things that could go wrong on the holiday is even funnier than the one his mum gives him ‘in case of emergency’ and readers will be continually amused throughout as Stan’s lists are added to – but also subtracted from – as he encounters new experiences from food to girls, from moody or just downright batty adults to haughty Italians.

While he is away Stan’s dad takes ill, which causes him great anxiety, but at the same time, as he observes the interactions of the families in the villa with acute perception, he develops a greater understanding of what he’s always taken to be his father’s dissatisfaction with his only son. As the holiday progresses and Stan’s small steps towards confidence increase, so does his insight into what family means and that sometimes, being anxious is OK and being even just a little brave can take you a long way.

I find it quite difficult at times to find humorous novels that will be enjoyed by lower secondary as much as primary children but I think this one might just fit the bill. I’m certainly going to give it a red-hot go with some of my Year 7s – especially some of the more reluctant readers.

Highly recommended for kiddos from around 10 years upwards – especially those who like a good laugh-out-loud read.

Funny Kid Belly Flop: Funny Kid #8- Matt Stanton

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Harper Collins Australia

September 2020

  • ISBN: 9780733340604
  • ISBN 10: 0733340601
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

Ok so it took a while to get to this one but I laughed my way through it today while waiting patiently at my doctor. Pretty sure that others in the waiting room were slightly bemused by my stifled giggles.

The Kid had her swimming carnival at the new school yesterday and enjoyed it very much, not so much for the swimming, of which she did only a little, but the socialising. Clearly something she inherited from both her mum and myself!

Max doesn’t want to swim, he doesn’t want to get wet in fact and he will go to extraordinary lengths (just not in the pool) to get out of the swimming carnival altogether. So a cunning plan is conceived. Max will scupper the carnival so the event can’t go ahead. As one might imagine this can only end badly. With the help of his friends the attempts to sabotage the whole soggy mess are both hilarious and spectacularly unsuccessful. To make matters worse, Max’ nemesis, Abby, wants the carnival replaced with the Maths Olympiad competition and does her very best to undermine his efforts (not that they need much help in that respect).

There are guffaws aplenty as twins Pip and Tyrone decide to reverse their usual good twin/bad twin personas, faithful sidekick Hugo has a mysterious rash and, horror of horrors, their teacher Miss Sweet has a boyfriend and it’s super muscled up swim coach Chaz, of the dazzling smile. It all ends up as the usual Max mayhem and your kiddos will eat it up.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

Total Quack Up- Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck. Illustrated by James Foley

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9780143794905

Penguin Random House

9780143794905

October 15, 2018

Puffin

RRP $14.99

 

Here’s another super choice for the kid who loves humour – and again, very timely with Christmas rushing in upon us.

 

The cream of our Australian children’s writers have contributed a wealth of funny stories: Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Adrian Beck, Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, Sally Rippin, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton are all crowd pleasers at any time.

 

Oliver P’s poem about writing a poem, Rhyme Time!, made me laugh aloud – definitely going to use that the next time I do a library unit that features poetry to ward off the inevitable groans. Jacqueline Harvey’s Pet Sit Pandemonium: Operation Snowball is also a cracker – the image of Puss with poor Pavarotti clamped in his jaws balefully glaring had me falling about. And of course, Nanny Piggins is a guaranteed chortle-inducer and Pigerella, R. A. Spratt’s contribution, is no exception.

 

From football loving pigs to a principal with a rat phobia, from vegetarian bikini-wearing hippos to a crazed vacuum cleaner, this compilation will have something for every reader.

The book also includes the first publication of the winning entry in the Kids’ WB competition by Ella Wallace.

 

Royalties from the sales of this book go directly to Dymock’s Children’s Charities with all the authors as well as James Foley, illustrator, thrilled to be part of the project donating their talents and work.

 

So buying this book will not only give the kids you love some pleasure but also help to provide some for children in less fortunate circumstances.

 

Highly recommended for kids who love to laugh, from around eight years upwards.

 

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz & Brian Floca

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cora

ISBN: 9780763648220
Imprint: Candlewick
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS

April 1, 2017

Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Newbery medallist Laura Amy Schlitz and Caldecott Medalist Brian Floca have teamed up to produce this absolutely delightful easy chapter book about a sweet little princess and a rather roguish crocodile.

Most little girls would love to be a princess but they would surely change their mind if they had to be Princess Cora. Her mother and father have very definite views on how their only child should be raised to take up her position. Her father says Princesses must be strong so Cora must skip rope for hours. Her mother says Princesses must be knowledgeable so poor Cora has to stew over the most boring books ever every afternoon. And her Nanny says Princesses must be clean so three baths a day it is for Cora. The poor thing has no time to play or do anything that is remotely fun. (Sounds like so many children who are so booked up with activities, they have no time to just be kids!)

She really wishes she had a little dog. At least that would be company and good fun.

So Cora writes a letter to her godmother – and as all good fairy godmothers would there is a swift response. But Cora’s desired pet is not a dog – it’s a crocodile!

You can well imagine the resulting chaos when the crocodile, determined to help Cora, sets about ‘fixing’ things for her.

Like all good fairy tales, this has a happy and humorous ending for all.  This is simply great fun throughout with terrific illustrations and beautiful presentation.

Highly recommended for readers from about 6 to 9, I foresee this will be a big hit in our library next term.

Crazy Characters & Daft Deeds

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I’ve chosen to review these two books on the same post as to me they are similar in many ways all of which will appeal to their audience.  Both Colin Thompson and A.F. Harrold have a singular and individualised way of providing satirical humour for a pint-sized readership. They also both employ that  every engaging device of the author speaking directly to the reader when necessary.

Fizzlebert Stump and The Great Supermarket Showdown

fizz

Published: 01-09-2016

ISBN: 9781408869451

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens Series: Fizzlebert Stump

RRP: $12.99

I’ve not seen the previous titles in this series but any book called Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) has got my vote already and ensures I will catch up with the earlier books.

Fizz lives in a circus – in fact, he was born and raised under the Big Top. His entire life and livelihood is suddenly turned upside down when the Ringmaster sells the circus without any warning. It is all most strange. The Ringmaster assures his folk that not much will change but change it does. Those without an ironclad contract drift away to find other employment including the animals, while those basically indentured to the circus remain – and find themselves little more than navvies in a tawdry supermarket managed by a very unpleasant owner.  When a book starts at Chapter 4 you know you are in for a completely unusual read and this is the case.

Fizz is the definite hero here as he digs deeper (especially at his library!) to find out why the Ringmaster just upped and sold the circus. He runs into old friends (from previous books) and triumphantly they resolve the whole debacle.

It is fun, it is wacky and will definitely be a hit with young readers who have a yen for humour.

Watch This Space 2: In the Pink

inthepink

Random House

ISBN 9781742756189

August 29, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

Previous readers of this blog will know of my attachment to Colin Thompson’s work.  I have been patiently waiting for the second instalment in the newest series which will no doubt prove every bit as popular as the well-worn Floods titles on my library shelves.

The Contrast family, sent into space by entrepreneur Radius Limpfast, in the most exciting reality TV show yet are bored out of their brains after a mere week in space. When they realise that they are trapped for five years things look grim but fortunately (?) their genius robot rRego knows what is needed. He hacks into the spaceship and re-directs the family to what they think will be Earth – except it’s not.

Weirdly the family ends up on a very Earth-like planet – well except for that thing about the planet seems to have turned pink and has a couple of extra moons – and a strange human-disguised lizard population.

As usual Colin’s play on words, and digs at popular culture are prevalent and highly amusing.

Your Floods devotees are very quickly going to take up this newest series and I predict you will need multiple copies to keep up with demand.

A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals – Lucy Ruth Cummins

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Simon & Schuster

  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers |
  • 40 pages |
  • ISBN 9781471147074
  • May 2016

 

There once was a hungry lion, a penguin (Well he was just here…), a little calico kitten (I could have sworn I just saw him…), a brown mouse (Now wait a second…), a bunny with floppy ears and a bunny with un-floppy ears (Okay this is just getting ridiculous), a frog, a bat, a pig, a slightly bigger pig, a wooly sheep, a koala, a hen, and also a turtle. Hey! What’s going on here…

It appears that a group of animal friends are getting together to play – but as each page is turned and more and more of the smaller animals disappear, one wonders what might be happening to them. Just how hungry is that lion?

But never fear, they are all sneaking off to prepare a surprise party for their favourite hungry lion – but oops! This party doesn’t just start with a surprise! Who else could be hungry?

The illustrations are gorgeous and the text full of wit with some great opportunities for predictions.

A hugely funny but somewhat dark debut picture book which will have young readers intrigued with some trepidation but lots of giggles.

 

Highly recommended for young readers from around 3 years and up.

My Life & Other Exploding Chickens – Tristan Bancks. Illustrations by Gus Gordon.

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ISBN: 9780857985316

Published: 01/03/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

Ok so Tristan’s My Life.. books should come with a warning about snorting aloud. Tom Weeks is back with his brand of bizarre daily life to make readers laugh out loud.

Tom’s invitation to go to the circus with the love of his life Sasha is exhilarating on the one hand yet terrifying on the other due to his phobia about clowns.  His worst nightmare turns into more than just having to look at those evil clowns.

Then there is his arch-nemesis Stella’s brilliant homework scheme which naturally involves tricking Tom into a kiss.

There is also my favourite image – the guinea pig sized head lice chomping on a bathroom door. Although Lewis’ mutant nits did get a tad creepy later when they were big enough to attack the police car!

And then the Library Ninjas (which is rather coincidentally the name of my library monitor team!) who ruthlessly pursue Tom after he finally returns his overdue book – after five years!

Of course there’s more – I always wondered where all the odd socks went to I have to say and no My Life would be complete without input from Tristan’s fans and the interspersed ‘lists’.

All in all, another hit for those readers who want the wacky side of life delivered up to them complete with scabs.

Highly recommended for kids from around 8 years upwards.

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket – Caleb Krisp/illustrated by John Kelly

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ISBN:9781408858677

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

June 2016

RRP $14.99

That irritating and insufferable Ivy, Child Blunder extraordinaire, is back with another hair and eyebrow raising adventure. Half dead and now living with a sinister and secretive pair of undertakers who purport to be her new ‘parents’, Ivy is on a mission to save her dead friend Rebecca becoming embroiled along the way in another mystery – the disappearance of a young man and his sweetheart. The return of the nefarious Miss Always is offset by the appearance of Ivy’s new ‘special friend’ Miss Carnage, a librarian of dubious antecedents and strangely theatrical appearance.

All of this plus dealing with the horrible Matilda, Lady Elizabeth and various other buffoons, not to mention being incarcerated in a local insane asylum keeps the unsquashable Ivy puzzling and plotting with her usual doubtful diplomacy and fallible finesse.

Between the constant harassment from Mother Snagsby to dust and clean and fetch and carry and the almost tender empathy from whisky slugging Mrs Dickens the cook, Ivy begins to detect that something is not quite right about her creepy funerary parents. There is especially something most odd about their insistence on her drinking warm milk which always seems to make her incredibly sleepy and reading death odes to people who are seemingly not ill enough to die – but who do!

As usual Ivy is sharp as a tack or at least an earthworm and with her astounding intellect ferrets out solutions to her endless problems – although fails miserably to remove that hideous wart from her new mother’s less-than-beautiful face.

Those readers with a taste for the Gothic side of humour and a secret sympathy for ghosts and ghouls will relish this second instalment of the irrepressible Ivy.

Highly recommended for crazy readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Goblin Mafia Wars [City of Monsters #2] – DC Green

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goblinwars

Ford St Publishing

April 2016

ISBN 9781925272208

RRP $18.95

You would think that as a royal hume dude your life would be one of complete luxury not to mention stressfree. Think again! PT (Prince Thomas of Monstro City) and his Dead Gang friends are embroiled even deeper in nasty situations and deadly – or is that undeadly? – circumstances; their quest to find the eggs of the last dragon, Kalthazar,  as well as trying to avert complete goblin civil war and annihilation of all other species, thwarting the evil plans of the horrendous Dr Franken, removing the usurper Prince Robbie and just a few other issues.

Following the toxic altercation at Fire Mountain with the goblins’ attack and Kalthazar’s limping escape to the Isle of Giants, the Gang minus friend Zorg begin a trek which first of all sees them navigating through the Dead Zone. Yowsers! This is one extremely bogus territory where even monsters like the Dead Gang are in very real danger of being exterminated – not least of all by their erstwhile compadre Scarab, the super-strong mummy gal.  She’s kind of ticked off about Zorg and decides that PT in particular is totes responsible.

Surviving this and then a very unnerving train ride back to Monstro City, the Dead Gang faces yet more monstrous mayhem. While PT manages to conduct some very delicate negotiations– and some highly skilful bluffing – with the rival goblin factions (think Sopranos style goblins!), his plans are sabotaged by the appearance of a chocolate popcorn gobbling older/younger idiot savant (without the savant) brother Prince Robbie. Rumour has it he has been cryogenically preserved by famous Dr Franken for the past ten years and not in fact stolen by the Vampire Queen. Looks like vampiric Stoker is not PT’s brother after all – or is he?

And just what is Dr Franken’s dastardly involvement with the goblin factions and the mentally deranged Prince Robbie? How did he get that dragon egg? And what the web is with all those freaky arms? Trapped in small cages in the evil doctor’s ‘hospital’ things look grim for this grimmest – and often grimiest- of gangs, with no apparent hope of escape. Spoiler alert – yet they do along with an about-to-hatch dragon egg!

DC Green has provided readers with another rip-snorter yarn about these highly idiosyncratic monster teens who have their own methods of solving problems. Their combined abilities and wacky take on situations along with their staunch support of each other prove more than a match for their adversaries.

High humour rating and all the excitement of fast-paced action will prove yet again to be a winner with readers from around 12 and up.

If you missed the first volume you MUST go and get it! Can’t wait for the next instalment – write faster DC!

Oh and PS – completely buzzed about that quote on the back cover!!

 

 

Pugly Bakes a Cake – Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Gemma Correll

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ISBN: 9780857635990

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Imprint: Nosy Crow

Pub Date: March 2016

 

I guess we all know that pugs are pretty cute (and pretty fashionable) right now. If I hadn’t got a toy poodle myself I probably would have got a pug – although my eccentric teaching colleague who had a wardrobe of outfits for hers and attended all the ‘pug parties’ in Brisbane at one time did kind of put me off a little.

 

Moving right along, newly independent readers are going to love this book. It’s a HOOT! Last night I read this aloud straight through to The Divine Miss M who is having a sleepover and she thought it was great! She was able to predict and infer as I read which was pretty impressive as well.

Pugly and his nemesis Clem (Clementine) the cat are rivals for the undivided attention of their owner Maddy who is eight years old.

Being a pug (no offence to pug owners), Pugly is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and Clem can very easily put it over him. Especially as Pugly’s only ally is Clive the fish – and Pugly doesn’t speak or understand fish-bubble.

Inspired Pugly decides he is going to the first dog to ever bake a cake and thus win paws down The Great British Bake Off, be on TV and meet the Queen (as you do when you’re famous). This plan will seal his status as Maddy’s favourite pet he is sure.

However, with Clem ‘advising’ him chaos reigns in the kitchen and elsewhere, as Pugly heeds all Clem’s ideas, goes mental at the Evil Squirrel outside on the fence and more.

This is a laugh a minute book and not only proved a terrific read aloud (took about half an hour or so) but perfect for those readers beginning their individual reading journeys. Lots of capitalised words and extra large fonts give them the opportunity to incorporate tone and expression into reading as well.

Get onto this one – it will be a great favourite with Year 1 to around Year 4 for sure!