Category Archives: funnier than most TV sitcoms

Mr. President Goes to School

Written by Rick Walton. Illustrated by Brad Sneed. Peachtree, 2010.

“Mr. President,” said Madam Secretary. “…It’s the Sticks and Stones issue again, sir. What should we do?”

Well, apparently the answer is don a disguise, get the heck out of the White House and hide out in elementary school, where even the nastiest problems can be solved with a snack and the hokey pokey. My kids cracked up at the stern-faced leaders of Bulrovia and Snortburg sitting criss-cross applesauce in the Oval Office. I loved the subtle reminder that grownups are at their best when we act like kids.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Alfred A. Knopf, 1964

“Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change color every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing gum that never loses its taste, and candy balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up. And by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds’ eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little pink sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.”

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Iggy Peck, Architect

By Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Abrams Books, 2007

Young Iggy Peck is an architect and has been since he was two, when he built a great tower — in only an hour — with nothing but diapers and glue. “Good gracious, Ignacious!” his mother exclaimed. “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” But her smile faded fast as a light wind blew past and she realized those diapers weren’t clean! Continue reading

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Billy Twitters and his Big Whale Problem

By Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009

Mom says…”Billy Twitters, clean up your room, or we’re buying you a blue whale…” But I’m not worried. See, I know a thing or two about blue whales. I mean, they’re the biggest animals in the world, ever. It’s not like you can just have one delivered to your house overnight.

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Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

By Florence Parry Heide, Illustrated by Lane Smith

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009

Princess Hyacinth had a problem. Well, you’re saying, everyone has a problem. But this was an unusual problem. Oh, she didn’t look unusual, that wasn’t it. She had two eyes, with a nose between them and a mouth under that — you know, the usual things in the usual arrangement…So what was the problem?

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McFig & McFly: A Tale of Jealousy, Revenge, and Death (with a Happy Ending)

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By Henrik Drescher

Candlewick Press, 2008

Far away from anywhere big and important, in a little cozy cottage surrounded by fruit trees and berry bushes, lived McFig and his little daughter, Rosie. One day, a stranger named McFly and his son, Anton, bought the land next door. This was OK with McFig, as long as they weren’t noisy or smelly.

In fact, they’re just the opposite. McFig and McFly have quite a bit in common and get along marvelously. So marvelously in fact, that McFig helps McFly build a cottage exactly like his own. But when McFig also builds a tall tower with his leftover lumber — making his house just a teensy bit bigger and better — so starts a competition that will consume, and eventually end, their lives. Continue reading

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Jillian Jiggs

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Written and Illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Scholastic, 1985

“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!”

“Later. I promise. As soon as I’m through, I’ll clean up my room. I promise. I do.”

Now, Jillian meant every word that she said. But later, the promise flew out of her head…

Forgive me, Jillian Jiggs. My scanner could not do your fine illustrations justice — probably because the copy I own (passed down from my mother, a teacher for nearly thirty years) is a Scholastic Big Book and nearly as tall as I am. Continue reading

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Nate the Great and the Lost List

 

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by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont

Yearling, 1975

I, Nate the Great, am a busy detective. One morning I was not busy. I was on my vacation. I was sitting under a tree enjoying the breeze with my dog, Sludge, and a pancake. He needed a vacation too. My friend Claude came into the yard. I knew that he had lost something. Claude was always losing things…”I lost the grocery list I was taking to the grocery store. Can you help me find it?” “I, Nate the Great, am on my vacation,” I said. “When will your vacation be over?” “At lunch.”

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We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub

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By Angela Shelf Medearis, Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Scholastic, 1996

“Do you want to eat dinner at my house, Josh?” “Okay, Harris.” “We eat dinner in the bathtub.” “THE BATHTUB?” “Yes.” “Why do you do that? You should eat dinner in the dining room.” “We sleep in the dining room.”

I don’t know what I love most about this slight little book, which is perfect for beginning readers. The hilarious premise?  (Harris’s kooky family uses every room in their house for purposes other than what they were intended for.) The wonderful illustrations? (Which beautifully underscore the idea that it’s not only okay but more fun to be different.) Or, quite possibly, it’s the fact that throughout this book, Josh and Harris are carrying on a conversation while having a totally free-range adventure: reading comics in a treehouse, climbing down a steep cliff face, biking down a curvy, narrow mountain road… Ah for the good old days.

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Spoon

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By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Scott Magoon

Disney Hyperion Books, 2009

Lately, Spoon had been feeling blue. “What’s wrong?” asked his mother. “You look a bit out of shape.” “Nothing,” mumbled Spoon. “It’s just that…I don’t know…All my friends have it so much better than me. Like Knife. Knife is so lucky! He gets to cut, he gets to spread. I never get to cut or spread.”

Sad little Spoon thinks everyone’s got it better than him. Fork gets to plunge face-first into a fiery BBQ grill and lasso spaghetti, for instance. And Chopsticks are just so cool and exotic. Fortunately, patient and wise Mama Spoon is there to remind Spoon of his unique abilities. This picture book offers a refreshing spin on a heard-it-lots-before message (“Everyone’s special in their own way”). Rosenthal’s droll insight is as welcome as ever and Magoon has somehow managed to make various kitchen utensils as cuddly and winsome as Winnie the Pooh.

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