Archive for the ‘Comedy’ category

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

December 16th, 2011

I don’t need to say much aside from this being another enjoyable installment of the series. Kinney writes like a stand-up comic – funny scenario A leads to B then C then back to A with a twist. I paused briefly to read a few pages this morning and ended up reading it cover to cover.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

December 9th, 2011

This is a funny book for a librarian to carry around.

This is a funny book.

Charlie Joe Jackson has avoided reading a book for all of the years that he’s been in school. He has paid off his friend, Timmy, to read books for him: one ice cream sandwich per book. At the start of the story, Timmy raises his price until finally he refuses. Charlie must create an elaborate scheme in order to finish the final project of the year, a position paper where he must read a lot of books and write a big essay, and yet maintain his non-reading streak. His fans would expect nothing less.

The voice in this book is awesome. Charlie definitely sounds like a non-reader, which then helps non-readers read the book. Sometimes I have to sell a book’s concept to a student so that they’ll endure to the end because they trust that I know what I’m talking about. Charlie Joe Jackson speaks with authenticity that needs no help from me. Also a bonus are the short chapters, illustrations, and the 25 tips that give funny sidenotes to the story. My only nitpick is that sometimes the descriptions didn’t line up with the illustrations. No big deal, but I thought it was a little odd.

Librarians, read the book. It’s an easy recommendation to students that accomplishes what it set out to do – getting non-readers to read, despite Charlie Joe Jackson’s best efforts. This is not a sappy book, though. Greenwald pulls no punches in making fun of other books and airing complaints from reluctant readers.

Kobayashi Haiku

April 14th, 2011

Earlier this school year, 5923 Quarterly published my short story Hiccup. This past Saturday I wrote a slightly-nerdy poem called “Kobayashi Haiku” (the name is a parody of the dreaded final exam in Star Trek’s Starfleet Academy)(and yes, I am proud to remember the name of the test).

The poem was selected as a featured work on Thin Air Magazine’s Writers’ Challenge site. Go check it out here.

24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley

March 4th, 2011

This one’s been out since 2005, but if you haven’t read 24 Girls in 7 Days, I think you need to. It has a great balance of humor and romance, as well as a realistic protagonist.

Jack Grammar (and he likes words…imagine that) is looking for a date to prom and his friends decide that they’ll help him out. They put a classified ad in the school’s newspaper with his e-mail and make it sound like he wrote it. Jack gets 200 responses and filters it down to 24 girls that he will go on a date with over the course of a week. After a date, he hopes to know which one to go to prom with.

The real appeal of the story is Jack’s narration. His comments on situations, especially when he’s super-nervous, are pretty funny. The opening scene sets the tone well. Jack is psyching himself out before talking to a girl about prom. The girl seems like she’s going to go with him, but then Jack starts talking about the “transgenic forces of springtime” and she freaks out.

Some of the dialogue is strained, acting more as a set-up for a punchline than advancing the plotline, although I still enjoyed it. The romance is interesting as the reader keeps having to guess who he will spend prom with.

If you’re a fan of Gordan Korman’s Son of the Mob or Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries, I think you’ll enjoy the similar 24 Girls in 7 Days.

Nightlight by the Harvard Lampoon

November 19th, 2010

I haven’t read the Twilight series.

Yes, I know.

Even though I haven’t read the books or seen the movies, I’m familiar enough with the plot of the series to understand the jokes in the Harvard Lampoon’s Nightlight.

Most of the book plays off of Stephenie Meyer’s writing style and how Bella is characterized. In Nightlight, Belle Goose stalks a boy named Edwart because she thinks that he is a vampire. The plot line revolves around her being clueless to the world around her as she acts out most cliches found in supernatural romances, thinking that every boy is super-obsessed with her and that she is smarter than anyone around her.

Here’s an example of her oblivious nature as she considers another possible vampire at the school:

I thought back to the tables in the cafeteria: Edwart’s table, Jocks, Populars (my table), Arty Kids, Vampires. He must have sat at the last one.

On top of her cluelessness, random events will be thrown in for humor (it’s a parody, after all). Belle loves having a big truck because she can make slushies by throwing snow in the back and driving like crazy. Supporting characters (what English teachers would call flat characters) don’t have names and Belle makes a point to say that the character has some forgettable name like “Lululu” and is not important at all.

Nightlight frequently steps out of the narrative to make a book joke, one that is only funny while reading. Belle says something in italics and comments that she learned at an early age to say things in italics because people listen better. A scary foreshadowing is that something scary will happen in chapter ten. It literally says chapter ten.

For being the Harvard Lampoon, it’s actually pretty clean. I think students would enjoy it (I know they would because it’s students who asked me to read it in the first place). I’m not going to booktalk it simply because I haven’t found an Accelerated Reader test for it yet. Once there’s an AR test, I’ll work it into my lineup.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

October 22nd, 2010

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in conversation with me has probably realized what a fanatic I am about Star Wars (one student even got me an Obi-Wan tie one year). That’s why The Strange Case of Origami Yoda intrigued me. I was curious how Angleberger would deal with the licensing issue and what he would do with that license.

Angleberger did get full permission to use the names and likenesses from the movies, which is cool because the novel would definitely have a different feel if we had cheap knock-offs. Throughout are sketches and in-jokes that will be really funny for Star Wars fans (the school is McQuarrie Middle School, McQuarrie being the name of the concept artist from the first movie)(and yes, I actually know the correct spelling for sarlacc). You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate the book, but it does help.

The plot is Stargirl/Schooled-esque, where an outsider tries to help the world around him and the narrator has trouble dealing with it. In this version, the outsider is a 5th grader named Dwight who normally is crazy but one day starts giving advice through a finger puppet that looks like Yoda, mystical Jedi Master.

The situations that the kids get into and the crazy advice the origami Yoda gives are reality tweaked a little bit, much like Diary of a Wimpy Kid is relatable but also hilarious. The story’s enjoyable and a very quick read. I finished the entire novel in a day, also a characteristic of Wimpy Kid.

My only complaint concerns the last two pages (not the origami pattern – that’s cool), but the last two pages don’t ruin the rest of the story. Don’t flip to the last two pages, though. That would spoil the fun.

I recommend this one for those students who are looking for a fun read or a follow-up to Wimpy Kid. The perspective switches voices quite a bit but they’re all labeled to make it easier to follow.

Schooled by Gordon Korman

August 21st, 2009

To call Schooled by Gordon Korman the guy version of Stargirl would be selling it short.

In the same tradition as Son of the Mob and No More Dead Dogs, Gordon Korman delivers another funny book. Cap Anderson has been raised on a commune for his whole life. When his grandmother, his only caretaker, breaks her hip, Cap must go to the local public school and see how the world has changed since the 1960s.

What I liked about the book is that each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective. Cap, through his caring attitude towards everyone, changes the school one person at a time (he memorizes every student’s name from the school yearbook).

The especially funny parts are how Cap reacts to things that we take for granted, like lockers and television. He can’t figure out why we can’t share our possessions; he also worries deeply for the people on a teen drama show, hoping that they can sort out their complicated lives.

Schooled is a quick read that will entertain while challenging you to evaluate how you treat other people.