Tag Archives: humor

Dragon Was Terrible – Perfect Picture Book Friday

23 Sep

It’s Fall!! It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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We all know those little dragons who just can’t behave. They’re busy coloring on the walls. Playing pranks. Throwing sand.

This story is about an incorrigible dragon, just like the ones you may have at home—only worse. The dragon terrorizes villagers, spitting on cupcakes, stomping on flowers, stealing candy from baby unicorns. Then the KING makes a proclamation that sounds quite authoritarian, rewarding any knight who can tame the dragon. Everyone has high hopes. But the knights fail miserably.

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That pesky, tagging dragon…..Another proclamation, this time offering a reward to the villagers if they can tame the dragon.

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That pesky, tagging dragon. But the villagers fail, too.

Enter a boy with a feathered cap who takes a different, mysterious approach to taming that terrible dragon. An approach that focuses on telling a story. Yes, folks. This book shows us how the power of story can tame the most terrible of dragons, our children. And it’s done without moralizing, pointing fingers, or otherwise hitting the reader on the head with anything resembling a plank. Well done!

 

TITLE: Dragon Was Terrible

Ages: preschool – first grade

Author: Kelly DiPucchio 

Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli

Publisher and pub date: FSG 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30049-4

 

Listen to Your Mother – video release!!!

14 Jul

So while I’m frantically revising picture book manuscripts to take to Highlights Summer Camp

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Fake picture of me….

 

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The Real Me

 Listen To Your Mother released the 2016 videos from shows in 41 cities. As promised, here’s my piece in the San Francisco Show! It was a privilege and an honor to be on stage with such amazing women. Cheers!

Parts and Even More Parts – Perfect Picture Book Friday

22 Apr

So you’re looking for a couple of books from a brilliant author/illustrator? Ones that will make kids say “ewwww” page after page, all while laughing uproariously? Ones that kids will want to read again and again and again because each little twist is ingenious?

Tedd Arnold’s will do the trick:

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For the most part, his rhyme is spot on,

“I just don’t know what’s going on

or why it has to be.

But every day it’s something worse.

What’s happening to me?”

 

but purists will note that the rhyme on the second spread is—inverted! **!!Gasp!!**

“I think it was three days ago

I first became aware—

That in my comb were caught a couple

pieces of my hair.”

 

Now, one could argue that this book was published in 1997 and the rhyme police have gotten much more strict in recent years. But I will tell you that if you’re an author-illustrator and you come up with something as original as:

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“Then later on (I don’t recall

exactly when it was)

I lifted up my shirt and found

this little piece of fuzz.”

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“I stared at it, amazed, and wondered,

What’s this all about?

But then I understood. It was

my stuffing coming out!”

Editors may give you a “Get Out of Rhyme Jail Free” pass. Page after page of inspired body part distress.

Not content with one body part book, Arnold published a second called “More Parts” (not reviewed here), and a third called “Even More Parts” in 2004. Originally published under the “Dial Books for Young Readers Imprint,” they are now published by Puffin.

“Even More Parts” takes a literal look at body part idioms and their horrifying consequences.

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Tongue-tied, anyone?

Although each page includes small comics of several idioms for each body part, Arnold selects the funniest to fill the spreads. The end papers include mini illustrations of many more. Bonus: All of these books should engage even the most reluctant readers AND PARENTS.  

“Even More Parts” could also be used to support Common Core Curriculum in kindergarten through second grade.

Check them out!

Titles: “Parts” & “And Even More Parts”

Author/Illustrator: Tedd Arnold

Publisher: Puffin

Ages: preschool-second grade

This post is in conjunction with Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Listen to Your Mother – San Francisco

14 Mar

It’s official!

I’ll be performing at the Listen to Your Mother show in San Francisco on May 6th!

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I had submitted a humorous essay last year but was too ill to audition for the show after the piece was selected. Not content to submit the same piece this year, I wrote a new 800-word essay that took me several years to write: five years to reflect on my experience and two weeks to commit to paper this past January.

What was I thinking? What was wrong with sticking to humor?

Me (well, a not so reasonable facsimile) when I began writing:

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Me (a more reasonable facsimile) after finishing:

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No, the essay has nothing to do with Norman Bates or chainsaws. And yes, there is a bit of humor in what would have been a thoroughly tragic story. 

I hope that those who hear it for the first time during the performance will be moved to think about those they love, the things their loved ones hold dear, and what those things signify in their relationships.

Looking forward to sharing the story with you all after the performance. For those who live in the Bay Area, I’d be eternally grateful if you come and cheer me on. Stay tuned for ticket sales info. Cheers!

Mother Bruce – Perfect Picture Book Friday

4 Mar

Time again for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday nomination:

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I haven’t laughed so hard while reading a picture book in a lonnnng time. Yes, I’ve smiled, giggled, or uttered the occasional guffaw. But here I found myself laughing through page after page of the most hilarious sight gags that only an author-illustrator can conjure. And my twelve-year-old son who’s too cool for school? He laughed out loud over and over again—and then read it again.

Story: Bruce, the grumpy bear, doesn’t like sunny or rainy days or cute little animals. But he DOES love eggs and makes extravagant gourmet dishes with them. He believes in supporting local businesses (a beehive) and asks Mrs. Goose if her eggs are free-range.

FOODIE ALERT!!!

That’s when this San Francisco dweller started laughing. Bruce’s epicurian lifestyle proves uneventful until one fateful day when he tries to hard boil eggs on the stove and the fire goes out, leaving the eggs in a cuddly warm bath. He runs out to find more wood, only to return home to:

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Yes, Bruce is stuck with a gaggle of goslings who thwart his attempts to abandon them. So ol’ Bruce makes the best of parenting (as we all do) until it’s time for the grown goslings to migrate. But Bruce still can’t get them to leave. His solution to this problem is downright ingenious and even more hilarious than what has come before. 

And the final twist that follows Bruce’s “dreams of new recipes—that don’t hatch” is a perfect last page. Parents won’t be filing this one away in desperation, saying that “it must be lost.” It’s a book they’ll want to read again and again and again and again to their little goslings.

TITLE: Mother Goose Bruce

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Ryan T. Higgins

PUBLISHER: Disney/Hyperion 2015

AGES: 3+

 

 

 

 

Smelly Bill – Perfect Picture Book Friday

25 Sep

As part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’d like to present:

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I’m attracted to messy, silly, rhyming picture books for several reasons:

  1. They give kids a sense of the rhythm of language and help them predict the word at the end of a line.
  2. They entertain.
  3. They appeal to one’s sense of the absurd, especially the illustrations.
  4. Kids will want to read the book again and again and again….

“Bill the dog loved smelly things,

Like muddy ponds and rubbish bins.

Disgusting stuff he’d stick his snout in,

Sniff and snort and roll about in.”

Don’t you just love ol’ Bill, already?

And, if you are as astute as my son, you noticed that the author used the term “rubbish bin,” instead of “garbage can.” Yes, the author is British.

But back to ol’ Bill. He’ s one stinky character, until Great Aunt Bleach comes to visit (and clean the house).

“When every knife and fork was polished,

Every dirty mark abolished,

Great Aunt Bleach said, “What’s that smell?”

And that is when she spotted Bill.

Bleach twittered, “Come on, doggie-woo,

It’s bathie-wathie time for you!”

Now, for those of you who write in rhyme, I’m sure you noticed that the author plays a little fast and loose with “things” and “bins” as well as “smell” and “Bill,” but it didn’t trip me up as I was reading. And, for the most part, the meter is spot on.

So, for all the dog lovers (and rhyming picture book lovers) in the world who’ve ever tried to wrangle their pups into a bath,

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Get me outta here!

this book’s for you. If you want to know what happens to Great Aunt Bleach, well, Smelly Bill exacts his own particular style of revenge. 

There’s also a sequel titled “Smelly Bill Stinks Again.” I’m sure he ran off right after the first book and rolled in some sweet skunk roadkill.

Better get the soaking tub ready….

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Title: Smelly Bill

Author/Illustrator: Daniel Postgate

Ages: 3-6

Publisher/Pub date: Albert Whitman  2005

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7462-1

 

There’s No Story Like “Snow Story”

10 Feb

Folks, when I read Mike Allegra’s (children’s book writer extraordinaire) post this morning, I couldn’t stop laughing.

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Oh, yeah, Mike prefers laughing rats over laughing cats. Here you go, Mike:

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The answer to the often-repeated question “How do you know if you’ve got a character-driven book?” lies within his hilarious anecdote. 

And for those of you who don’t care about the difference between character-driven and plot-driven stories, just—ah—read it and weep.

Snow Story.

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