Posts tagged ‘funny’

December 5, 2012

Snicket’s wrong questions make for fun reading

In case things were getting a little too serious around here, I’d like to introduce Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) to introduce the latest book I read, Who Could That Be At This Hour?, which tells the story of Snicket’s rather unusual childhood. And while I’ve been talking about a lot of serious books you can talk to your kids about, nothing gets a good relationship going like a shared laugh. So read this one with your kids now. Laugh together. Build up a foundation of shared reading. And then when the time comes, it will be all the easier to read and talk about the books I blogged about earlier. This would be great holiday reading! Something to share with the kids when school is out.

Anyway, he’s funny as you can tell, and so are his books. If you haven’t read him before, he has a cynical, slightly dark, but extremely fun voice. Definitely recommend this first installment in his “All the Wrong Questions” series. Great laid-back holiday reading!


Title: Who Could That Be at This Hour?
Author: Lemony Snicket
Genre: Mystery, Humor, Lots of Fun
Age: Reading to Adult, chapter book/early middle grade level

What about you? Do you have favorite funny stories? Have you asked the wrong question at the wrong time? What are you going to read with your kids when school is out?


February 17, 2011

LOL funny

I’m sitting at the side of the YMCA pool watching my 2-year-old, who has just learned what “natural consequence” means by goofing off instead of listening to his instructor and falling in the pool.  I watched him struggle under the water for a few seconds while smiling an “I’m-sorry-and-this-will-teach-him-and-did-you-know-I-used-to-be-a-teacher-and-I-feel-your-pain” kind of smile at the instructor, who is running down to the shallow end, dragging another one of his students with him, to rescue my son.

It’s not that I enjoyed watching him suffer, per se, but the teacher clearly had it under control, and frankly, it served my son right.  Maybe tonight he’d listen to me when it was time to put on the PJs.  (That was yesterday, actually, and last night, and I can tell you the lesson didn’t trascend activities, but he was, at least, more compliant for the remainder of the lesson.)

At any rate, there I am, nine months pregnant and completely uncomfortable.  I’m sitting in this chair and wish I could just be floating in a hot tub.  My baby is kicking like crazy and my belly is sticking out the bottom of my shirt because none of my pregnancy shirts fit me anymore but I’m not about to buy more when the kid could come out any day now.  And it’s not like a stretch-marked pregnant belly is anything pretty to look at.

So I’m trying to fade into the background, but this is hard because the book I am trying to read is hysterically funny.  I mean laugh-out-loud funny, and I don’t usually laugh out loud at even the funniest of books.  But I can’t help it–I’m trying to hold it in and I’m not.  And I wonder if I should save the book for home where I can roll on the floor in private, but that would mean putting it down which I’m not willing to do.  So I just sit there, a bloated, uncomfortable blob laughing hysterically–and way too loudly–at my own risk.

I found this book because it was recommended by a fellow Goodreads reader.  And I am so glad I did.  It’s a debut novel, which makes it all the better!

Title: A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Author: Linda Urban
Genre: Fiction
Age: Middle School and Upper Elementary; I think many YA readers would like it, too

Summary and Review:

Zoe is going to be a famous piano player when she grows up.  She’s going to play in Carnegie Hall.  The only thing standing between her and this goal–and she considers it a minor thing–is that she doesn’t have a piano and has never taken a lesson, practiced, or played one.  But Zoe is a spunky, wonderful character and these facts are not going to bring her down.  One day, however, her family decides to invest in a used piano for Zoe and sends her dad to the mall.

Now, Zoe’s dad is another wonderful character.  Usually, Middle Grade and Young Adult books that have a “different” or “special needs” character have those traits in one of the kids.  But in this book, it is Zoe’s dad who is a special needs adult.  He spends most of his time–no, all of his time–in his living room studying mail-order courses and accumulating what can only be described as useless degrees. He often has to drive Zoe around town when her mom is working and they inevitably get lost, having to call Marty at the auto shop, who enjoys the challenge of trying to figure out where they are and get them home.

Zoe’s dad doesn’t like being around people, noises, or the busy-ness of everyday life and when he gets to the mall to buy the piano, he is immediately overwhelmed.  He ends up in the grips of an organ salesman and comes home with an organ–the Perfectone D60, faux wood finish and all.  Zoe is NOT impressed, but true to her good spirit, she begins her free lessons which came with the organ.

The book, told from Zoe’s wonderful perspective and great sense of humor, follows Zoe at home and at school, through the trials of learning an instrument, hanging out with her family, being ditched by her best friend (a girl who lives in the “East Eastside” as opposed to just the “Eastside” where Zoe’s modest house resides), and many other adventures of school, home, and music.

You will absolutely fall in love with Zoe, with her dad, and with the school bully she starts to get to know.  This is a wonderful story, with wonderful heart.  And I dare you not to laugh out loud.

Follow Up With The Kids

If you are a mom reading this with your daughter, I think there is a lot of things you can talk about.  Enjoy the book and the conversations it can bring.  This is a honest look at middle school life and the chance to talk about some of these things through the lens of a character rather than the real life kids your daughter knows will make the conversation all the more safe, and usually because of this, all the more meaningful.  Here are some questions to consider:

Zoe’s dad’s issues prevent her from doing a lot of things other kids might be able to do…how does she learn to deal with that?  Many kids would not be so tolerant…what makes her so?

What was it like at her former best friend’s surprise party?  Has your daughter ever been in a situation like that and on which side?  What does she think about this?  Do your daughter and her friends have an equivalent of a “brat” t-shirt? (This takes it away from the comfort of the character-driven conversation and not every kid will be agreeable to that.  If you think yours won’t be, stick to the conversation about the party in the book.  Chances are, she will still be talking from her own experiences.  That is, after all, how we read a book.)

What motivates Wheeler to keep coming over to Zoe’s house and study and bake with her dad?  What do you think his life is like at home and how is it different from the persona he plays at school?

September 17, 2010

The impossibly international pickle of mystery, adventure, and zany fun

Have you seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?”  If you have and didn’t like it, don’t worry, it has nothing to do with the book I want to talk about.  But if you haven’t, it’s a great movie and you definitely should.  But I digress.  I bring it up because even though I’m not male and my husband isn’t Greek, I think about it every time I think about our families.  I’m the one with a couple of cousins in Wisconsin (give or take).  He’s the one with 30 first cousins and hundreds of other people he calls cousins that, in my family’s definition, aren’t really even related.  I used to get in arguments with him when he would describe someone as a “cousin” who is really a 2nd cousin once removed, or even a great-aunt, my argument being that the word “cousin” has an actual meaning and doesn’t translate to “person somehow related to me”.  But I’ve since learned to love his family’s all-inclusiveness and the sense of belonging that really gives you.

But all this is by way of writing a disclaimer, saying that by my husband’s definition, I am related to the author of the following book.  I’m not completely sure how (it involves tracing up a couple of generations, and then paralleling over through some siblings and then back down, and maybe over again, or something like that).  But I am super proud to say that Eli Stutz is my “cousin” and he wrote a great middle grade book.  About which I will now write.

Title: Pickle Impossible
Author: Eli Stutz
: Fiction, Adventure
Age: Upper Elementary and Young Middle School, Ages 9 – 12

Summary and Review:

Pierre has twenty-four hours to take a prized jar of pickles to the international Picklelympics in Switzerland, where the financial prize is the only hope of saving his family’s farm.  On the way he meets (a euphemism for “is kidnapped by”) a young girl who later saves him and is coincidentally the narrator of the story.  Together, Pierre and Aurore fight evil bad guys, play pool, ride motorcycles, fly planes, and meet a woman who has refused to grow old.

The adventures are completely wacky, totally unbelievable, and wonderfully fun to read.  I picked up the book one night when my husband was out late and a few hours later found myself eagerly turning the final pages, having never left my seat in the meantime.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

I like the character of Pierre–the perfectly average kid who realizes that he’s actually a perfectly balanced kid and that this comes in handy.  In a world in which we seem to expect our kids to be the best at everything they do, the moral of how great it is to just be in the middle is refreshing and honest.  Ask your kids what they are perfectly average at–and celebrate it!

Me, for example, I’m perfectly average at most sports–I always seemed to pick them up faster than other beginners, and then I never got much better than that.  I’m not someone who can’t throw or catch, but I’m not someone who ever was or ever will be a sports star.  And yet I love to play sports!  I remember days sitting on the sidelines at high school junior junior varsity soccer games wondering if I would ever play.  I wish at the time I had just known that it was okay to simple have fun playing the game (of course, you have to have a coach that lets you play first, but you get the idea).  I remember one horrifying game when a coach illegally substituted me (in the middle of play) for an older girl who wasn’t even on our team–or in our age group.  I felt like a cheater, a total loser, and definitely got the wrong message–that winning the game was much more important than letting some slow midfielder run up and down the grassy field on a nice day.

Too many kids today drop out of activities they aren’t good at, but they enjoy, because there is so much pressure for success everywhere.  Most of our kids aren’t going to be professional athletes.  And yet sometimes their middle and high school training looks like that’s what we want them to be.  I mean, someone has to come in last.

Or, in the case of Pierre, in the dead middle of the pack every single time.