The Terrible Two

Once again, I owe my thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of a truly outstanding book, a book that is now on the must-purchase list for my school library. That book is The Terrible Two and is brought to readers by the superb team of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. If this book turns into a series, I predict that it will leave Diary of a Wimpy Kid in its dust. Yeah, it’s that good, and it appeals to readers of all ages. If I’d been reading this anywhere other than the comfort of my own home, I would have been publicly humiliated by all of the snort-laughing going on. (Granted, I am rather immature at times, but who isn’t? This book is perfect for the precocious child in all of us.)

Miles Murphy has just moved to boring Yawnee Valley–where cows outnumber people–and he’s not happy about it. He’s left his school, friends, home, and reputation as a top-notch prankster behind, and he has to start over in a town where he doesn’t know anyone. To make everything worse, it seems this town already has a prankster, and, loathe as he is to admit it, this prankster may be even better than Miles. How can Miles possibly make himself known as the best prankster with this other guy running around?

When the two boys final reveal themselves to each other, the Prankster King of Yawnee Valley wants to combine forces with Miles. He thinks they’d make a great team, but Miles wants none of it. He’s sure he can beat this guy, and he seeks to prove it. Miles’ solution to his dilemma is a prank war. (Yeah…this will end well.)

Miles tries his best to pull the ultimate prank and get a leg up on the other guy, but he’s always foiled at the last minute. Can it be that Miles is not the prankster he always thought he was? Nah…that can’t be it.

Finally, Miles has enough of his ill-advised prank war, and he decides to join forces with his former nemesis to form the Terrible Two, surely destined to be the greatest pranking duo of all time. This twosome devises the most epic prank ever seen in Yawnee Valley, a prank that people will talk about for years. A prank that may have the power to take their enemies down a notch or two. A prank that, if all goes according to plan, will cement their status in the International Order of Disorder.

Can Miles and his new partner-in-crime pull off this most awesome of pranks? Find out when you read The Terrible Two, written by Jory John and Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell!

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The Terrible Two will be released on January 13th, and I will have it in my library as soon as humanly possible. Kids–particularly those who are on the mischievous side–will surely identify with the utterly charming characters and their thought processes. (My students will especially identify with much of this book. My school is right down the road from a dairy. Read the book, and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.) The writing and illustrations are equally hilarious, and I look forward to many laugh-out-loud moments as students devour this book in the library.

The Terrible Two is an essential purchase for any library that serves elementary or middle grade readers, in my humble opinion.

I sincerely hope we see more of The Terrible Two in future books. This book is simply too awesome to stand alone.

For more information about this outstanding, hilarious book–and its equally outstanding, hilarious creators–check out the websites of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. Enjoy!

Published in: on December 14, 2014 at 10:02 am  Comments (1)  
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

As you may know, a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was released yesterday. After I voted, I rushed to my closest bookstore and purchased ten copies for my school library. (I’m fully aware that this is probably not enough.) Before I took the books to school, though, I sat down to read this ninth installment, The Long Haul.

In The Long Haul, Greg Heffley is about to take part in that most dreaded of family activities–the road trip. Greg’s Mom thinks this will be the greatest summer activity in the world, and she’s billing it as a vacation and learning experience all rolled into one. Well, it’s definitely a learning experience, but I doubt dear old Mom had these lessons in mind…

From rundown hotels to lost wallets and cell phones to destructive pigs to unfortunate car mishaps, the Heffley family goes through loads of mayhem and madness on this most epic of road trips. Everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong on this horrible vacation.

Crammed in the back of the family van, Greg tells readers all about his vacation misadventures, and readers young and old will find it all too easy to sympathize with Greg’s plight. (Who hasn’t endured a heinous family road trip?!)

Will Greg and his family make it out of this with their sanity intact? Can anything go right for them during this trip? What more could they possibly endure?

Join Greg Heffley on yet another wild ride when you read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul!

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I don’t have to do a whole lot to sell this book to my students. Setting it out on the shelf is usually enough. I do plan to tell them, though, that The Long Haul is probably my favorite of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It’s just so relatable, no matter what the reader’s age may be. I can remember long car rides with my family–my sister and I fighting over the smallest things, my parents getting more irritated by the minute, all of us fussing about my dad’s choice in music, having no escape from all the togetherness. Oftentimes, we needed another vacation from our vacation. I think lots of readers–like myself–will be able to see themselves in everything that goes wrong with the Heffleys’ road trip.

I’m sure we’ll see more of Greg Heffley and his infamous diary in the future. The Long Haul didn’t wrap up in a nice, neat little bow, so be on the lookout for another book this time next year.

For all things Diary of a Wimpy Kid, be sure to visit wimpykid.com. For a quick look at The Long Haul, you may also want to take a peek at the video below. You can find loads more videos on the Wimpy Kid YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm  Comments (1)  
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Fortunately, the Milk

I love Neil Gaiman, and reading Fortunately, the Milk has only increased my adoration. This book, which features illustrations by Skottie Young, is a journey through the ridiculous. Fortunately, the Milk is targeted to a children’s audience, but I’d wager that many older readers will be enchanted by it.  I certainly was.

Who knew that being out of milk would lead to such craziness? Well, that’s exactly what happened one morning in a perfectly normal household. The father went out to get the milk, but he had quite the story for his disbelieving children when he returned.

After getting the milk that his kids needed for cereal–and he wanted for his tea–it seems that Dear Old Dad got a bit sidetracked by a few things. Things like spaceships, green globby aliens, pirates, piranhas, a professorial stegosaurus with a time-traveling Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier (hot air balloon), an ancient volcano god, ponies, wumpires, the space-time continuum, the galactic police, and dancing dwarves.

Is the father’s story true? Could he have possibly gone on a time-traveling adventure with the strange Professor Steg? And how did he ever get the much-needed milk home to his children? Read Fortunately, the Milk to find out!

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Anyone who enjoys convoluted stories–maybe fans of Roald Dahl or Doctor Who–will love Fortunately, the Milk. It is full of crazy, fantastical fun, and those who’ve ever been subjected to insane tales told by dads, uncles, granddads, or other relatives will definitely appreciate the story.

I do recommend reading the entire book in one sitting. (It’s a very short, fast read that will likely take most readers less than an hour to finish.) The action moves so quickly that this will not be a problem. In fact, if you put the book down, you’ll probably find yourself having to reread entire passages to put things in context.

Fortunately, the Milk, in my opinion, would be a great read-aloud for students in upper elementary or middle grades.  (Some of the vocabulary may be a little too difficult for younger readers.) Even high school students may appreciate this book as a read-aloud. It’s that funny and awesome.

If you’re looking for a super-quick read that is totally strange, whimsical, and ridiculous, you should definitely give Fortunately, the Milk by the amazing Neil Gaiman a try. You’ll be enraptured by both the text and the wonderful illustrations (which were kind of a cross between the works of Shel Silverstein and Tim Burton.) You won’t be disappointed!

If you’d like to learn just a little more about this book, check out the book trailer below. It features the King of All Things, Neil Gaiman himself!

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

Yesterday, there was a run on my school library.  We got eight copies of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Hard Luck.  (I skedaddled to the store Tuesday so that we would be able to have copies available for students first thing on Wednesday.)  Many of my students have been looking forward to this eighth installment in the popular series for months, so I knew I would have to do my part to meet demand.

I did keep one book back to read myself, though.  (After all, you can’t recommend a book if you haven’t read it yourself.) I finished it last night, so here we are with a post today.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of our protagonist, Greg Heffley, I related to him more in this book than any of the preceding books. (Normally, I find him to be extremely selfish. That didn’t change much in this book, but his circumstances did.)

Greg Heffley’s life is not going well.  His best friend Rowley now has a girlfriend.  Where does that leave Greg?  Out in the cold. Suddenly, Greg has to walk to and from school by himself, carry his own books, sit with other people at lunch, worry about who to play with at recess, and find something to do after school.  Who knew that losing your best friend would cause so much trouble?!

Middle school is no picnic at the best of times.  It’s even worse when you don’t have a best friend (and you’re not sure how to make more friends).  Eventually, though, Greg thinks he’s found a way to make things a little better.  He’ll leave his fate up to a Magic 8 Ball!  This shouldn’t cause any problems at all, right? Right?!

Join Greg Heffley as he navigates the halls of middle school–girls, cafeteria seating, recess games, making friends–and his somewhat unpredictable family.  Will Greg’s luck ever change?  Find out when you read Hard Luck, the eighth book in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series!

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Most people realize that middle school is the time when people begin pairing off.  Well, when you’re not part of a pair, things can get kind of dicey.  I was never part of a couple in middle school (or even high school), so it was very difficult for me to keep from being the “third wheel.”  Many times, my friendships with those in couples tended to fall by the wayside.  That’s why I relate so strongly to Greg Heffley in this book.  (I think a lot of readers may feel the same way.)  Some kids just aren’t interested in becoming part of a couple, and it’s not always easy to adapt when their friends find someone else to spend their time with.  (I know Diary of a Wimpy Kid is supposed to be a very light read, but, in this case, it brought back some not-so-great memories. I probably need therapy.)

Like all of the other books in this series, this book sells itself.  I don’t think I need to do a ton of promotion here.  I put eight copies of this book on the shelf yesterday, and they’re all gone today. We’ll probably have to order a few more soon.  Kids just love these books, and I think I’ve illustrated that adults may just find something to enjoy (or at least relate to) as well.

I’m sure we’ll see yet another DoaWK book this time next year. In the meantime, visit  http://www.wimpykid.com/ for all things wimpy!  Enjoy!

 

Published in: on November 7, 2013 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fake Mustache

Sometimes, in my role as an elementary school librarian, I’m introduced to books that are completely ridiculous. Some of them are, shall we say, less than great. Others, like my latest read, make me laugh hysterically and think of ways to highlight this book and recommend it to my students.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Fake Mustache fell in the latter category. It’s by Tom Angleberger, author of the absolutely fabulous Origami Yoda series. That’s the reason I picked the book up, after all. In Fake Mustache, Angleberger once again uses humor to tell a captivating story that, hopefully, will make kids of all ages think. Yes, readers will have to suspend reality just a bit, but anyone who gives this book a try is in for one crazy, entertaining ride!

Our story begins with two best friends, Lenny and Casper, visiting Sven’s Fair Price Store in their hometown of Hairsprinkle. Lenny purchases a sticky stretchy hand, but Casper…well, Casper, after spending a lot of money on a suit, purchases the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven, the world’s greatest fake mustache. This mustache is made from real human hair and has the power to make people do strange things…as Lenny is about to find out.

Shortly after Lenny and Casper make their fateful purchases, a short, suited man with a handlebar mustache begins robbing banks. Lenny is sure that Casper is the culprit, but no one believes him. Even when he tips off the police as to the identity of the robber, no one takes him seriously…no one except Casper–now known as the powerful, rich, and enigmatic Fako Mustacho–who makes Lenny into Public Enemy Number One.

Fako Mustacho seems to have everybody fooled. Bands of people are going around the city doing his bidding. Only a few people are immune to the power of the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven. Lenny is one of them, and, surprisingly, one of the others is Jodie O’Rodeo, former teen cowgirl queen. These two kids join forces to put a stop to Fako Mustacho’s shenanigans. But how can they battle the brainwashing power of the Mustache?

Join Lenny and Jodie as they try to figure out how to stop a criminal mastermind from taking over the country. What dangers will they have to face? Will anyone ever believe them? Find out for yourself when you read Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger!

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If you’re looking for a hilarious, totally unbelievable book to recommend to kids in upper elementary or middle grades, Fake Mustache is a great choice. It could even open up some discussions with older kids on why people choose the leaders they do. (This is something especially timely right now. Maybe some of our Congressmen are controlling people with fake mustaches. Makes just as much sense as anything else.)

Pair Fake Mustache with I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil, and I Want to Be Your Class President for readers who are interested in just how much other kids can get away with. Both books will leave them laughing uncontrollably.

If you’re interested in Fake Mustache and other books by Tom Angleberger, check out http://origamiyoda.wordpress.com/. Have fun!

Published in: on October 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel

*Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything.  It’s not absolutely essential that you read the first book before this one, but it would definitely help.  Also, the first book is made of awesome, so you need to read it anyway.*

If there is a perfect summer read for kids who just finished the fifth grade, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley, might just be it.  As a matter of fact, this is an excellent summer read for kids of all ages, especially those of us who have ever been to summer camp!  (It made me fondly recall my own summers at Camp Marietta.)  Everything that made Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything a great read also holds true for this sequel.  Cheesie’s voice is delightful and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I know my students will love this book as much as they are currently eating up the first one (which is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award).

In Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, readers follow Cheesie, his best friend Georgie, and a whole cast of characters to Camp Windward (for boys) and Camp Leeward (for girls) in Maine. (Events in this book pick up right where they left off in the first book.  It’s the summer after fifth grade graduation.)  Cheesie is sure that this will be the best summer ever because he and Georgie will be the oldest of the Little Guys at camp. Unfortunately, thanks to events that occurred in the first book, things don’t quite work out the way Cheesie had hoped. Now, Cheesie and Georgie are the youngest in the Big Guys group at camp. (Not a big deal if you’re already kind of big like Georgie, but it’s bad news if you’re already a little guy like Cheesie.)  This presents a whole new set of problems, and the biggest one is probably Kevin Welch, his sister Goon’s boyfriend.

Camp Windward is not off to a stellar start, but Cheesie comes up with a way that might help him to make the best of things.  He challenges Kevin to a Cool Duel.  Whoever is voted the coolest in their cabin at the end of a week is the coolest guy at camp!  Kevin gets out to an early lead, but Cheesie isn’t a quick-witted kid for nothing.  He comes up with a couple of things that are sure to earn him some votes.  But will he get enough votes to win the Cool Duel?  You should definitely read this book to find out!

Even though the Cool Duel is a big part of this book (hence the title), there’s also a lot of other stuff going on:  a dance with the girls from Camp Leeward, sneaking into the computer lab, snakes, a talent show, and the most epic scary story in the known universe.  Cheesie also introduces readers to exciting new words (only a few of which are made up) and questions to ponder.  Cheesie’s website, http://cheesiemack.com/, also plays a big part in this book.  This wonderful site makes this book, like its predecessor, truly interactive. 

All in all, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the perfect follow-up to the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Cheesie gets up to next!  (FYI, the third book, Cheesie Mack Is Running Like Crazy!, will be out in June of 2013.  I can’t believe I have to wait that long!  Ugh!!!)  I’m working on organizing an author visit with Steve Cotler to Greenville County (South Carolina) elementary schools in February.  I’m so looking forward to having discussions with my students and the author about both of the wonderful Cheesie Mack books and, hopefully, what we can expect in the third!

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything

I few minutes ago, I finished reading yet another nominated title for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  The book is Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley.  I could tell just by the title and cover that the book would be humorous, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how funny it actually was, and, even though the book is geared toward students in upper elementary school, there’s definitely a lot in this book that older readers—including lots of adults—will find enjoyable.  This book is laugh-out-loud funny and will be an easy sell in most libraries.


Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything basically takes place during the span of just a few days—all of them revolving around Cheesie’s fifth grade graduation.  (Cheesie’s real name is Ronald, by the way.)  This book is Cheesie’s account of everything that happened in this short—but action-packed—span of time.  He recounts events that involve mice, BLART sandwiches (which I may just have to make for myself), old pennies, haunted houses, his best friend Georgie, and his horrible sister Goon (June to everyone else).  Peppered throughout the book are interesting facts, words, and side notes that may or may not have anything to do with the story.  Cheesie is a character that a lot of kids will relate to, and they may just learn a little along the way.

This book is a great one for any reader who, well, just likes knowing stuff.  (I am one of those readers.)  Cheesie researches things he doesn’t know a lot about, and he shares what he finds with the reader.  Cheesie is very interested in words and their meanings, and he even makes up his own words.  (This might be a great book for educators to use when teaching lessons on voice, word choice, and using vibrant language.)  There’s even a website that goes with this book, http://cheesiemack.com, that students will enjoy visiting while reading.  (I just visited the site myself, and it’s pretty cool.  I may even use it as a selling point when I booktalk this with my students.)

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything is, in my opinion, perfect for readers who enjoy books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dan Gutman’s My Weird School Daze series, Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary series, or Rachel Vail’s Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters.  I, for one, plan to push this book to any and all of my students, especially my boys, who are looking for something funny to read.

There is more to come from Cheesie Mack.  A second book, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, is due out next month.  Hopefully, I’ll have time to read it this summer so that I can share both books with my students when we return in August.

Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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Kitty Kitty

First of all, if you haven’t read Michele Jaffe’s Bad Kitty, you need to read it immediately.  It is one of the funniest books I have ever read.  That being said, I just finished reading Kitty Kitty.  (It should be obvious from the way I started this post that this is the sequel to Bad Kitty.)  While it did have it’s laugh-out-loud moments, I thought Bad Kitty was the better book.

In Kitty Kitty, Jasmine and her family (Dadzilla and Sherri!), have moved to Venice, Italy.  Jas has been taken from her friends and her super-hot boyfriend Jack (and she is sure he’s being bombarded with super-hot girls in her absence).  Jas becomes friends with a weird girl named Arabella who eventually ends up dead.  Chaos ensues as Jasmine tries to find out what really happened.  Jas is joined in her quest by the Evil Hench Twins and her friends Polly, Roxy, and Tom (who fly to Venice with Menudo…because that’s how everyone gets to Venice).

Anyone who reads Kitty Kitty, or even Bad Kitty, definitely has to suspend reality.  But don’t we all need to do that sometimes?  I know I do.  If you want to laugh or say to yourself, “What the…,” you need to read Michele Jaffe’s Bad Kitty and Kitty Kitty.  And judging by the way Kitty Kitty ended (don’t ask because I’m not telling), we can surely expect more adventures from Jasmine and her band of weirdos.  Enjoy!

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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