Tag Archives: Humour

Evie and Pog: Party Perfect! [#3] – Tania McCartney

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Harper Collins Australia

April 2020

  • ISBN: 9781460757956
  • ISBN 10: 1460757955
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – AU
  • List Price: 12.99 AUD

The absolutely cute-as-buttons Evie and Pog are back in their third set of adventures ready to delight all those newly independent readers who are already in love with them.

Once again your little readers will love the familiar pattern which starts off each new adventure and in this book there are another three fun stories: Book Parade, Art Show Muddle and Party Time!

As we already know from their previous escapades Evie, Pog, Granny along with Noah, Mr Pooch and Miss Footlights often have extravagant plans which usually go somewhat awry but are always salvaged by the quick resourcefulness of the team, knitting and creative thinking.

First of all there’s the annual Book Parade, always such an exciting event, but Pog is not at all happy. He ALWAYS wins the Best Dressed Dog for his costumes but how can he possibly compete with all the new competitors from the Puppy School? Luckily Evie, Noah & co come up with the perfect costume and though, to Granny’s distress, it involves lots of messy making including GLITTER the competition is a triumph for Pog.

Next up is the Art Show and Evie is creating a huge artwork that represents their daisy-spot grass while Pog busies himself making a plan of the art show. It’s all going to be a huge success – well, that is until seven tiny kittens turn up unexpectedly and mayhem results with a tangle of wool, colour, fluffiness and little beady eyes. When Mr Arty Farty (don’t you just love it?!) arrives to judge the entries, Evie is so upset because her grand design looks completely and utterly ruined after a kitten-attack. You can imagine her surprise then when the snooty judge decides on a winner – and yes! Daisy-Spot Grass is the best of the show!

Finally the Puppy School is one year old and has been such a huge success for all that a party is definitely in order. But it’s not just a celebration for the puppies, it’s also Granny’s birthday so there is much excited preparation to be done. Pink lamingtons, gift baskets, a special trophy for the star doggy pupil and the return visit of Mr Arty Farty accompanied by the seven little kittens all make for a hilarious and rather chaotic village party.

Your little readers will laugh so much at the antics of this quirky crew of characters but there is also much to be gained in other ways such as thinking about solving problems, getting along with others, self-confidence and diverse friendships.

We just love Evie and Pog in our junior library and can’t wait to have the children back at school to see the great display that’s in the making. Tania McCartney’s talents as both writer and illustrator are always such a joy in any of her works and this new series is no exception.

Highly recommended for little humans from around six years upwards.

 

Click to access Evie-and-Pog-Teachers-Notes.pdf

The Happy Prisoner – Monica Dickens

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First published in 1946 I originally read this when a friend gave me  a copy as a birthday gift many (many!) years ago. I loved it so much and re-read it so often that the paperback disintegrated over time and was reluctantly abandoned.

A few weeks ago the wonderful Pat Pledger of ReadPlus invited some of us (t-l’s) to contribute to a ‘feel good’ reading list for the holidays and this was the first book that came into my head. I realised just how long it was since I had read it so immediately sourced a copy (it’s now out of print it seems). It arrived yesterday and I binge-read it last night and what a joy that was!

The Dickens talent for creating memorable characters touched with both drama and humour seems to be genetic and I’ve also enjoyed Monica’s other books – now about to source a copy of both One Pair of Hands and One Pair of Feet!

Here’s a precis -taken from GoodReads of this delightful excursion into post-war English family life.

 

It is the end of WW II and the household of Mrs. North, a well-to-do widow with a country cottage, is very busy. War circumstances brought both of her daughters home: loud but good-hearted tomboy, Violet, and highly-strung and over sensitive Heather with her two small children. Mrs. North is also taking care of her young niece, Evelyn, a lively child who loves to play on the local farm and has a great passion for animals. But at the center of all this is Oliver, Mrs. North’s only son who lost his leg during the war service abroad.

Recovering from his injuries, bed-ridden Oliver has nothing better to do but observe the busy lives of the people around him. Treated as a hero and a confidant by all the women in his family, Oliver begins to enjoy his new role as a self-proclaimed counselor. Due to his advice, Violet, an independent spinster, unexpectedly accepts the marriage proposal from a local farmer. Her wedding is a success and Violet finds a new happiness in her marriage, but soon Oliver’s meddling in his family affairs goes too far. Will his risky instructions save or ruin Heather’s marriage, which is at the brink of crisis, when her husband comes back from Australia after a few years of separation? Will Oliver learn to accept his new circumstances? Will he finally face to the reality and start to rebuild his own life?

In this compendium plot, Monica Dickens, with her typical attention to detail, humor and talent for creating vivid characters, explores complicated life stories of the close-knit family and their friends at the end of the war. The Happy Prisoner was first published in 1946.

Why not explore some Monica Dickens for yourself? In these rather anxiety-filled times, some light relief is so very welcome.

 

Fabio the World’s Greatest Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake – Laura James. Illustrated by Emily Fox

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9781408889374

Bloomsbury Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9781408889374
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $12.99

 

I do love Fabio – the Hercule Poirot of the flamingo species – and though the kids who read it may not really get that connection these books are still really good fun.  Together with his rather dopey offsider the rather gullible Gerald (read Hastings) he is launched into a new mystery when a terrible water shortage hits not only Laloozee but the near countryside as well.

Of course the adventure doesn’t start out as a mystery rather it starts with Gerald’s purchase of a bi-plane and his immediate decision to take Fabio on a joyride. Naturally, being Gerald he doesn’t think to check the fuel tank before launching the pair skyward and the inevitable happens when they need to make a forced landing just near a small but remote village. With the new plane slightly pranged it’s a lucky chance to come across a capable mechanic lion called Molly but while the plane is being repaired, events escalate as the pair realises that there is something very wrong indeed about this growing and worrying shortage of water.

Suspicions turn to one character after another with the prerequisite red herrings one expects in a Christie-ish mystery but not for nothing is Fabio ranked the world’s greatest detective – he is well able to ferret out the real villains and save the day.

I repeat – jolly good fun! And perfect for those newly independent readers looking for a narrative with a bit more complexity. I just love the eye-popping flouro colours used in these as well – this one hot pink and citrus yellow!

Highly recommended for your younger readers from around Year 2 upwards.

James Gong The Big Hit – Paul Collins

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Hybrid Publishers

June 2020

ISBN 9781925736441

RRP: $16.99

Fourteen year old James Gong is pretty much a fairly average teenage boy living in suburbia with a family who are also pretty average – well in most respects. His mother rescues dogs and keeps them out the back of their house, to the frequent annoyance of neighbours, and counsels her pooches with tender dedication. His father does – well, James isn’t exactly sure what it is his father does but he likes to hope that his dad is a spy since his job seems to be so well-hidden (at least it is to James). He has an older sister Caitlin who can be a real pain, like most big sisters, who is always banging on trying to save whales, trees, the environment- really whatever cause is topical.

For the most part James’ life is pretty cool. He has his besties Jay and Ethan, school is tolerable and he is just about to qualify for his black belt in taekwondo under the instruction of the exacting and ferocious Mr Choi.  When a crew from TV show My Life arrive at the hall to film a segment for the program they are mightily impressed with James’ jumping spinning side kick, so much so that they want him to star in their upcoming blockbuster movie. Wow! Hollywood fame and fortune awaits for young James – or does it?

While James is super-excited about the movie role, except for the scene that involves a KISS with a lovely young girl, there are aspects about the whole filming process that baffle him – like the lack of sophisticated equipment, or sets or indeed costumes. Little does he know that Marcie and Win the film-makers are actually pulling a tax-dodge swifty.  Added to the confusion around the movie, James is still at loggerheads with his sister, fighting his weird attraction for Caitlin’s best friend Amber who scorns him with vigour and seriously neglects his taekwondo practice resulting in a  fail in his black belt grading.

To make matters worse when the movie premieres it’s so ludicrously hilarious instead of the big action film James was expecting so that now, instead of being a Hollywood superstar,  he feels like he’s losing out big time and that he’s the biggest fool alive.

But perhaps, just perhaps there are positives in the offing. I really don’t want to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that there are a few very tricky twists in James’ story that Paul Collins has managed without the slightest hint of contrivance.

I feel there will be many readers both boys and girls who will really get into this book. They will love the action, relate to the well-developed characters, chuckle at the humour, wince at James’ ineptitude and – okay, at times ‘denseness’ – but ultimately will rejoice with him and certainly  express their emotions at the biggest ‘ah ha’ moments.

I recommend this highly for readers from around 12 years upwards who I can guarantee will thoroughly enjoy it.  If you’re looking for a great read-aloud or shared novel this will make a fabulous addition with many levels and themes to explore throughout.

Check out some teaching notes here and given the disruptions to normal services you can order your copy here right now!

Derek Dool Supercool #1: Bust a Move– Adrian Beck. Illustrated by Scott Edgar

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9781760892951

Penguin Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9781760892951

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Yep, we’ve all known a Derek – and indeed, some of us have taught one! Derek Dool thinks he is the ant’s pants really and doesn’t miss a chance to let everyone know. It’s just a shame that no one else seems to appreciate his supercool-ness. Mind you, given his very uncool father it’s to be expected.

Of course, Derek does have his stalwart friends, Big Denise and Booger – I probably don’t have to go into too much detail about them given their names – but despite their whole-hearted support Derek still struggles to achieve the acclaim which he feels is rightly his.

So Derek’s immediate problem is how to demonstrate that he really is the ‘coolest, funniest, most handsome kid in school’ in the dance-off happening at the school disco, especially as he’s up against his nemesis, Carmichael Cruz.

Really, with his vast quantities of talent, nothing can go wrong – well, except for wet pants (due to melting ice but looking like suspect toilet troubles), an incident with a giant cake, an escaped pet rabbit and a rogue giant mirror ball. Oh and that little matter of Cruz actually being a great dancer and Derek getting the blame for a disastrous social event.

Kids from around 8 years upwards will absolutely love this. It is exactly the kind of slapstick funny, gross-out humour, ridiculous situations and outrageous characters that they love. And with Edgar’s  comical illustrations and the interspersed Bad Dad Jokes they will get even more laughs out of it.

Really, some light-hearted comedy that also includes some themes of real friendship and family is a good antidote for the current doom and gloom.

If you haven’t already, get hold of this for your middle/upper primaries and wait for them to add to their favourite funny series lists!

League of Llamas – Aleesah Darlison

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94234nz Visit Aleesah’s webpage here

 

Penguin

March 2020

RRP: $9.99

 

Well… Aleesah’s new series is bound to be a hit with junior/middle primary readers with galloping (I’m not sure llamas actually gallop but still…) plots, high octane humour and loads of adventure. I knew that James Bond is currently having a contemporised make over but I’m thinking that Phillipe Llamar is going to give the super suave secret agent a real run for his money once the word gets out!  After all, he’s got the good looks and the extravagant fringe (thanks to extensions) – in fact he oozes style. Of course it’s a bit of a shame he also often exudes incompetence but still, one can’t have everything.

These new stories make great use of innumerable llama puns (driving Llamaborghinis) and other word play such as the names of countries (Chickenlovakia and Crowatia) which kiddos will find highly amusing and no doubt will emulate with gusto.

 

#1 The Golden Llama

9781760894160

ISBN: 9781760894160

Imprint: Puffin

In which we are introduced to Phillipe, his sidekick Lloyd, Mama Llama the big boss of the League of Llamas agency, a beautiful but suspicious lady llama and some very dastardly badgers led by General Bottomburp (I know, right!?).

Phillipe’s mission is to retrieve stolen files regarding SPIT (Space Precision Initial Test), a highly sensitive initiative of the Llama Republic Space Agency, Bottomburp’s office deep within the badger’s mansion. His plan to do this whilst everyone is deep in food and dance at a huge ball is a good one but things do go awry. However Phillipe salvages the operation, if not his dignity, but there is more in store as the badger cohort retaliate with a llama-napping and the theft of the Llama Republic’s most significant monument, the Golden Llama.

#2 Llama Impossible

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ISBN: 9781760894184

It wasn’t until I read this second instalment that I found a reference to James Bond..

If James Bond was a llama, he’d be Phillip, albeit slightly more clumsy and conceited…….hah! that cracked me up after my earlier mention!

A speeding train with failed brakes driven by a rotund llama chockfull of choc-cookies and a nasty gecko who appears to be a baddie, a martial arts academy full of badgers who like to beat up llamas, arson, a robbery at Tiffanllamas & Co Jewellery Store and more – it’s all in a day’s work for Phillipe and his trusty comrades, all the while protecting his famous fringe. Are all these incidents the work of Bottomburp, who is reputedly holidaying in Papua New Guinea Pig, or are the llama agents being misled?

It seems that when the intrepid pairing of Phillipe and Lloyd become a trio with the lovely Elloise that things work out with great satisfaction – perhaps a little wonkily along the way but still all’s wellama that ends wellama.

 

Trust me, your kiddos are going to lap these up like llamas eating gardenias – or badgers eating worms. I would recommend for readers from around 7 years upwards.

 

 

 

 

Evie and Pog (series)– Tania McCartney

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Evie and Pog Take Off FINAL COVER

Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

I’ve said before that Tania McCartney is uber-talented (as well as being one of the very nicest humans I know) and I for one am tremendously excited about this new series pitched at newly independent readers. It’s just fabulous to see a few new series to add to these collections!

 High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

So starts each book and just like ‘Once upon a time..’ the pattern will signal to children that the fun and adventures are about to begin. These stories absolutely ooze exuberance with their characters and antics. Evie is six years old and lives with Pog in a slightly eccentric tree house alongside Granny Gladys who lives in a rather large, though no less eccentric, house. Evie loves crashing her cymbals, rolling in the daisy spot lawn, reading, cakes and knitting. Pog loves reading too but he prefers to sit at the table with a large cup of tea and his newspaper. He also loves vegetables – in any shape or form. Granny is a tidier and a rampant cleaner who is almost permanently attached to her dust buster. She also loves knitting and baking cakes (though not the mess that always seems to arise from cooking!).

They have some good friends like Noah and Mr Pooch and Miss Footlights and the adventures often include these characters.

Each book contains three separate stories and the uniform format with the double page spread of the tree house plan as the frontispiece and the cast of characters and the map of the village on the final pages gives readers that sense of continuity and familiarity they love.

Each is chockers with Tania’s humorous and always endearing  illustrations and loaded with onomatopoeia and a wonderful variety of fonts giving each an even more lively feel.

Evie and Pog: Take Off! [Evie and Pog #1]

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ISBN: 9781460757932

ISBN 10: 1460757939

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  •  Puppy School Mess
  •  School Play Drama
  •  Cake Stall Chaos

 

I’m pretty sure you can surmise from the story titles that there is a continuing theme of incidents filled with rambunctiousness and hilarity which generally involve lots of  knitting yarn (usually in tangles), cakes and unexpected happenings.

For example, when Granny decides Pog must go to Puppy School with Mr Pooch it is not the dogs who win the Puppy Challenge  – and certainly not Pog who is completely and utterly against such demeaning activities – but Evie who aces the challenge course and becomes the first ‘girl’ winner.

 

 

Evie and Pog: Puppy Playtime! [Evie and Pog #2]

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ISBN: 9781460757949

ISBN 10: 1460757947

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  • Reno Rumble
  • Classroom Contraption
  • Puppy Park

The tree house is freezing and Evie, Pog and Granny decide it’s time to renovate and what better way to do so than with knitting. They could really use some help though and when Noah comes to visit they know he will be the perfect person to assist – even only they can work out how to get him up into the tree house, Noah being too heavy for the basket which is the general method of entry.

Of course throughout each of these is again the signature knitting, cakes, often surprising accidental events which are always resolved happily (and with the aid of the aforementioned knitting and cakes).

These are truly hilarious and quirky almost to a point of outlandishly silly which little readers will absolutely love. The belly laughs will be plentiful I predict!

 

Highly recommended for younger readers from around six years upwards. What a joy they are!

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Total Quack Up Again! – Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck. Illustrated by Jules Faber.

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9781760893583

Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9781760893583

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Get quacking if you haven’t already and grab this second edition of hilarious stories from some of our most celebrated authors as well as one young newcomer!

The first TQU was a great success not only providing children with some super funny stories but raising funds for Dymocks Children’s Charities. At this critical moment Dymocks are well and truly focused on providing valuable support for children affected by the catastrophic bushfires which are still burning.

Featuring stories from Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman as well as young Coby Sanchez whose story The Duck Pond was determined the winner of the story-writing competition, this collection will have kids everywhere chuckling with gusto.

With all the aspects young readers are looking for including ridiculous situations, ‘smelly’ stories and weird characters this will be a welcome addition to any primary library.

Be sure to tell children how this book (and its predecessor) represents a special and generous initiative by not only the Dymocks group but the talented authors/artists who so generously give of their time and talent.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

The Peski Kids: Near Extinction #4 – R. A. Spratt

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9780143796367

Penguin Australia

January 2020

ISBN: 9780143796367

Imprint: Puffin

Format: Paperback

RRP: $16.99

Readers may rest assured that this latest episode in The Peski Kids once again passes the snort-laugh test with flying colours. There is something truly inspired about these completely kooky characters.

This new instalment opens with the reluctant wedding of Dad and the intimidating Ingrid but is rudely interrupted not by the kids but a strange foreign woman delivering an impassioned message from imprisoned Mum. While shy Joe, pedantic Finn and firecracker April (not to mention the irascible Pumpkin) would willingly stop the wedding there is more to this situation than meets the eye.

While Dad and Ingrid disappear purportedly to the city for a little break before the wedding resumes, the kiddos along with Loretta, newly adopted into the family and even more newly expelled from her private school, are trapped into a doleful school excursion to the famed (using the term loosely) Dinosaur museum at Gulargambone (which was pretty much my loudest snort-laugh as having lived in the Central West for 12 long years which was made even longer by the fact that it IS the Central West).

Of course no one would expect an excursion either from the Currawong school or which includes the Peski kids to go according to plan and so it is. Finn is trapped in a dinosaur’s mouth, Joe is hotly pursued by love-lorn Daisy and April threatens to derail the whole trip but no one expects the intrusion of dangerous jewel thieves. Meanwhile Dad and Ingrid who are not in the city are on a rescue mission somewhere deep in Europe and Dad has to pull out all his limited reserves of courage and ingenuity to be of use.

The hilarity just keeps on coming and Spratt’s comedic gifts will have readers guffawing with abandon once again.  And as to be expected the story concludes with a nicely set up segue into the next volume. Roll on #5!!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

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Attack of the Meteor Monsters [Maudlin Towers #3] – Chris Priestley

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9781408873137

Bloomsbury

October 2019

ISBN: 9781408873120
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $15.99

 

If you or your readers haven’t caught onto this series yet I would urge you to do so. While we all know it’s important to have narratives which deal with significant issues or concepts, it’s equally important to just have a chuckle in my opinion – and Maudlin Towers certainly does this ‘par excellence’.

Very reminiscent of Ronald Searle’s fabulous St Trinian’s and his collaboration with Geoffrey Willans on the Molesworth series, Maudlin Towers and it’s chief characters Mildew and Sponge are dim-witted inept students in an outstandingly chaotic school which always seems to be running into adventures of the strangest ilk.

In this new adventure the school is inundated by some rather odd girls and their teacher while at the same time Mildew and Sponge witness what they at first believe to be a meteor crashing to earth. As the story unravels it becomes apparent that the ‘meteor’ is in fact a space ship and its occupants have dispersed – coincidence? I think not. When a second space vehicle arrives complete with large scary but hilarious mechanical spiders the pace quickens and predictably further rumbustifcations ensue.

I cannot say I detect any deep meaningful concepts (except perhaps to not always be mentally consumed by the thought of biscuits!) but it is all raging good fun wonderfully written and illustrated by Priestley.

Do your kiddos a favour and get some humour into their bookshelves – indeed why not buy all three if you have not already done so!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.