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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: humor, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,431
26. The Manager, by Caroline Stellings | Book Review

This funny novel is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Ellie, but the real star is her older sister Tina. They live in Whitney Pier over the gym where their father, a former boxer, trains aspiring boxers.

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27. Cybils Finalist Review: STRANGE FRUIT, VOLUME I by Joel Christian Gill

Summary: In a recent NPR interview, Joel Christian Gill said, "These stories are quintessentially American stories. I can't say that enough. It's not that I dislike Black History Month. I just don't think Black History Month is enough." I agree... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Cybils Finalist Review: STRANGE FRUIT, VOLUME I by Joel Christian Gill as of 2/19/2015 12:17:00 PM
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28. Cybils 2014 Review: EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

Summary: Before writing up this post, I honestly didn't realize that El Deafo by Cece Bell had won the 2015 Newbery Award. Well, now it's also won a Cybils Award for 2014, in the Elementary and Middle Grade Graphic Novels category! And I'm thrilled... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Cybils 2014 Review: EL DEAFO by Cece Bell as of 2/16/2015 11:35:00 AM
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29. IA Talks to Tara Jacoby About Her Illustrations for Gawker

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[Very Blessed New Mom Wishes She Had Been Warned More About Blessings – Article]

You may have noticed something happening over at Gawker media.

Things have been way visually cooler over there for the past year, thanks to the efforts of Illustrator Tara Jacoby and Art Director/Illustrator Jim Cooke. Last April (2014), Cooke – on behalf of Gawker Media – put out a call for a “staff illustrator”.

We’re looking for a graphic design and illustration junkie with an editorial focus. You can read a post, conceptualize an interesting visual solution, and execute an image that will make that post better…within an hour or two. You are clever and have a keen sense of humor, and your portfolio reflects this.

Tara Jacoby turned out to be the perfect choice for the job. Her work brings just the right balance of humor, wit, and humanity to Gawker’s incredibly wide range of topics and compelling headlines. Here at Illustration Age we always strive to celebrate the people, publications and organizations that embrace the use of illustration, and next week we’ll be sharing our conversation with AD Jim Cooke about Gawker’s motivations for doing just that.

But first, we think it makes sense to start with the images themselves, so we’ve collaborated with Tara to highlight some of our favorite illustrations of hers and also take the opportunity to pick her brain about her experience working with Gawker over the past year. Enjoy!

lfiwl9seowdwk7qwseaf[How to Get Your Sex Tape Off the Internet – Article]

portrait1.jpgILLUSTRATION AGE: What inspired you to answer Gawker’s call for an in-house illustrator?

TARA JACOBY: I had been working as the graphic designer at the Society of Illustrators and freelancing. I’d looked to change gears and focus on illustration and considered going freelance full-time. To be honest, I had no idea Gawker was hiring. A friend had sent me the link twice before I even read it. When I actually did read it, it felt like the stars had aligned. I had to have it. This job was tailor-made for me. So, I applied immediately.

Sometimes the job feels too good to be true. I cannot believe that I’m excited to go to work everyday. You know when people say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”… well, they were right!

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[Here Is What It’s Like to Do a ‘Soup Cleanse’ – Article]

Fun (after the) fact: Jim had me come into the office for a trial day after my interview. I completely blew it. He sat me at the “smelly Deadspin table” and I sat there silently freaking out and frantically sketching ideas, reading and re-reading the assignments as my career hung in the balance. I basically had an eight hour anxiety attack. I still can’t believe that he hired me after that.

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[Why You’re So Horny During Your Period – Article]

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[Twenty Days of Harassment and Racism as an American Apparel Employee – Article]

IA: What’s it like to work under rapid-fire deadlines on such a regular basis?

TJ: Well, had you asked me that in June, my head might have exploded from all of the pressure. At first, I was completely stressed out. I tend to overthink… let me see… well, everything. The first couple of weeks I was waking up at 4:30 every morning just to mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. I basically drove myself insane. I think I hid my neurosis pretty well? I’m not sure. All I knew was, Jim hadn’t canned me yet, so everything was copacetic.

Now, I actually think it’s refreshing to work under rapid-fire. You don’t have time to overthink anything. And being a perfectionist, I feel like this really helped me loosen up both technically and creatively.

Overall, I love it. Typically, each one of us does 3-5 illustrations in a day, depending on how busy we are. That doesn’t include the other more design-oriented images we make. The three of us are constantly working. By the end of the week we can’t even remember all of the things we’ve done. Over a course of 7 months, I’ve done roughly 500 or so illustrations. I’ve never been so productive in my entire life.

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[You Prefer to Date Fat Guys So You Don’t Feel So Bad About Yourself – Article]

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[When You’re a Black Woman, You’re Never Good Enough to Be a Victim – Article]

IA: How much creative freedom do you feel like you have on these illustrations?

TJ: The organization as a whole is encouraged to be bold and honest. Nick Denton once said, “We are beholden to no one.”  That holds true for the art department as well. We can draw whatever we want with no apologies. That’s the beauty of working for a truly independent media company. They are always challenging you to push the limits and speak your mind. I’ll admit, sometimes we do get a little carried away, but that’s not a terrible thing.

If I think that something might be going too far (or not far enough), I’ll ask Jim and he’ll point me back in the right direction. When Disney Dudes’ Dicks came out I was very concerned about offending the Disney loving masses, but Jim gave me some sage advice: “If you’re not offending someone, you’re not doing it right.”

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[How to Keep Photos of Your Naked Body Off the Internet – Article]

wgig8eidorh8qtvuemyh[Disney Dudes’ Dicks: What Your Favorite Princes Look Like Naked – Article]

IA: To end on a light note, many of your illustrations deal with sexual themes. What does your mother think about that?

TJ: My mom rules. My whole family does. I could draw pretty much anything and they’d support me. They always have. After the first couple of weeks, they all just accepted that if they ask about my job, they better be ready for some NSFW art. I’m lucky to have a family with a few loose screws and a great sense of humor.

Thanks to Tara Jacoby and Gawker Media for their contributions to this article. Stay tuned for our conversation with Gawker Art Director Jim Cooke!

More places to find Tara Jacoby:


Filed under: Interviews

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30. Texts from Jane Eyre

What’s there to say about Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre except what fun! When I first began seeing the book around the interwebs I thought, pfft, how stupid, this is as bad as turning Pride and Prejudice into a story about zombies. But I was wrong. This my friends is a delightful book of humor. Who cares that Circe and Odysseus didn’t have phones? If they did I’m sure they would have texted each other something like this:

where did the pigs come from Circe

i don’t know
a pig farm
a pig mommy and a pig daddy who loved each other very much and gave each other a special handshake

CIRCE

oh my god okay fine
they’re your crew, you got me
I turned all of your friends into pigs

why did you turn my friends into pigs

I don’t know
maybe the real question is
why are your friends
so turn-into-pigsable

Ortberg is great at capturing the absurdity, oddness, or quirk of story or character, or even real life authors. Like the spoof of John Donne and his poem The Flea:

it means we’re basically married
it has my blood and your blood in it
so
you’ve technically already had sex with me
and you might as well do it again

I don’t
wait
but there could be a lot of other blood in there too

well we might have to have sex with all those people too

Or Henry David Thoreau texting Ralph Waldo Emerson:

o you know whos my family ralph

who

these squirrels
these squirrels and this chipmunk and that crow there

the crow on the chimney?

NO
not that one
god i hate that one
hes not my family
hes a fucking asshole

There are also paranoid texts from J. Alfred Prufrock and texts from the Lorax cracked me up. There were a few I had a hard time relating too since I never read any of the Sweet Valley High books, the Baby-sitters Club or the American Girls. I did laugh at the texts between Nancy Drew and her boyfriend Ned though.

Texts from Jane Eyre is a quick, light book sure to make you laugh more than a few times. I can promise that if you are reading it with someone else in the room you will want to read some of the texts aloud to that person in order to share the fun. And if you enjoy Ortberg’s humor, you can catch it nearly daily at The Toast.


Filed under: Books, Humor, Reviews Tagged: Mallory Ortberg

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31. Wednesday Writing Workout: Characterization (Encore Presentation)

As a follow-up to last Friday's Guest TeachingAuthor Interview with Sherry Shahan, I'm repeating the Wednesday Writing Workout she shared with us in July 2014. After reading this post, I'm sure you'll want to enter for a chance to win a copy of Sherry's Skin and Bones (A. Whitman), if you haven't already entered the contest.

Sherry's young adult novel is a quirky story set in an eating disorder unit of a metropolitan hospital. The main character “Bones” is a male teen with anorexia. He falls desperately in love with an aspiring ballerina who becomes his next deadly addiction.

The novel was inspired by a short story Sherry wrote years ago, “Iris and Jim.” It appeared in print eight times worldwide. Her agent kept encouraging her to expand “Iris and Jim” into a novel. Easy for her to say!

                                                               *          *           *

Wednesday Writing Workout 
Tell It Sideways
by Sherry Shahan

During the first draft of Skin and Bones I stumbled over a number of unexpected obstacles. How could I give a character an idiosyncratic tone without sounding flippant? Eating disorders are serious, and in too many instances, life-threatening. 

Sometimes I sprinkled facts into farcical narration. Other times statistics emerged through dialogue between prominent characters—either in an argument or by using humor. Either way, creating quirky characters felt more organic when their traits were slipped in sideways instead of straight on.

There are endless ways to introduce a character, such as telling the reader about personality:
"Mrs. Freeman could never be brought to admit herself wrong on any point." —      Flannery O'Connor, "Good Country People."
Or by detailing a character’s appearance:
"The baker wore a white apron that looked like a smock. Straps cut under his arms, went around in back and then to the front again, where they were secured under his heavy waist ."   —Raymond Carver "A Small, Good Thing"
The art of creating fully realized characters is often a challenge to new writers of fiction. As a longtime teacher I’ve noticed:

1.) Writers who use short cuts, such a clichés, which produce cardboard or stereotypical characters.
2.) Writers who stubbornly pattern the main character after themselves in a way that’s unrealistic.
3.) Writers who are so involved in working out a complicated plot that their characters don’t receive enough attention.

In Skin and Bones I let readers get to know my characters though humorous dialogue. This technique works best when characters have opposing viewpoints. 

Consider the following scene. (Note: Lard is a compulsive over-eater; Bones is anorexic.)

“I’ll never buy food shot up with hormones when I own a restaurant,” Lard said. “Chicken nuggets sound healthy enough, but they have more than three dozen ingredients—not a lot of chicken in a nugget.”

Bones put on rubber gloves in case he’d have to touch something with calories. “Can’t we talk about something else?”

“That’s the wrong attitude, man. Don’t you want to get over this shit?”

“Not at this particular moment, since it’s almost lunch and my jaw still hurts from breakfast.”

Lard shook his head. “I’m glad I don’t live inside your skin.”

“It’d be a little crowded.”

Exercise #1: Choose a scene from a work-in-progress where a new character is introduced. (Or choose one from an existing novel.) Write a paragraph about the character without using physical descriptions. Repeat for a secondary character.

Exercise #2: Give each character a strong opinion about a subject. Do Nice Girls Really Finish Last? Should Fried Food Come With a Warning? Make sure your characters have opposing positions. Next, write a paragraph from each person’s viewpoint.

Exercise #3: Using the differing viewpoints, compose a scene with humorous dialogue. Try not to be funny just for humor’s sake. See if you can weave in a piece 
of factual information (Lard’s stats. about Chicken Nuggets), along with a unique character trait (Bones wearing gloves to keep from absorbing calories through his skin.)

I hope these exercises help you think about characterization in a less conventional way. Thanks for letting me stop by!
Sherry
www.SherryShahan.com

Readers, if you haven't already done so, head on over to Friday's post and enter for a chance to win your own autographed copy of  Skin and Bones (A. Whitman).

Good luck and Happy writing!
Carmela

0 Comments on Wednesday Writing Workout: Characterization (Encore Presentation) as of 1/28/2015 9:39:00 AM
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32. Catching Up: Book Blurbs of Fall/Winter, Pt. 1

I've gotten incredibly far behind on my reviewing, so it's that time again: time to cut to the chase and offer quick, no-nonsense book reviews before I completely forget everything about these stories. This past fall was a real bear as far as... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Catching Up: Book Blurbs of Fall/Winter, Pt. 1 as of 1/22/2015 3:51:00 PM
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33. My Writing and Reading Life: Jess Keating, Author of How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel

As an author and zoologist, Jess Keating has tickled a shark, lost a staring contest against an octopus, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she spends most of her time writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

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34. Enjoy Some Picture book Fun with Creepy Carrots

Enjoy Some Picture book Fun with Creepy Carrots | Storytime Standouts

Enjoy Some Picture book Fun with Creepy CarrotsCreepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
Outstanding picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers









Terrific fun for children aged five years and up, Jasper Rabbit is very fond of carrots and makes a trip to Crackenhopper Field whenever he fancies eating a few delicious treats but one day Jasper has an eerie feeling that Creepy Carrots are following him as he leaves the field. Soon Jasper is seeing Creepy Carrots everywhere: in his house, in the garden shed and on the street. Poor Jasper is petrified! He knows exactly what to do to solve this problem.

Preschool and kindergarten teachers will find all sorts of wonderful (and orange) ways to extend the learning with this delightful book. Whether designing their own carrots or a different solution to Jasper’s problem, this book is sure to inspire fun. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! would be an excellent companion story.

2013 Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book
ALA Notable Book of 2013
2013 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award Winner (Midwest)

Coloring pages (free PDF download) from Peter Brown’s webpage

Flannel Friday: Flannelboard and Template

Creepy Carrots! at Amazon.com

Creepy Carrots! at Amazon.ca

The Creepy Carrots Zone from Peter Brown on Vimeo.

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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35. Elvis - the real story

Today would have been Elvis "The King of Rock'n'roll " Presley's 80th birthday. It is generally believed by most that Elvis is no longer with us as in gone to that great jam session in the sky. However - love those howevers of life - there are those who believe he arranged for his disappearance and is out there somewhere, doing gigs. What if they're right? You just never know.



Elvis – The Real Story


 CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

TAMMY        40-something avid Elvis fan and wife of Len
LEN                40-something husband of Tammy
"THE" ELVIS, former big star/singer/performer

 

 THE TIME

The present

 THE PLACE

Jackson’s 7-11 GAS BAR AND DINER

 

Photos of Elvis cover a large portion of one wall; Elvis songs play non-stop. There is a table with two chairs on one side of the room, while the other side of the room has the usual gas station displays of motor oil, etc.

 
AT RISE:

TAMMY and LEN, two customers, are seated at a table looking around the room

LEN
(Scrutinizing the surroundings)

Um…who recommended this place?
 
TAMMY
(reading book)
The restaurant guide write-up says it’s fine dining with a difference

LEN
Fine dining if you’re a rat! Did you happen to notice that a cockroach just crawled out of our bread basket? Must be one that escaped the Chef’s special catch-of-the-day

TAMMY
Stop being so negative and take in the atmosphere

LEN
You mean the aromatic scent of “eau du trash” coming from the back? Phee-ew!

TAMMY
You’re so…so…provincial in your thinking, sweetheart. It's about this authentic ‘60’s décor that gives the place its special caché!

LEN
More like early condemned. Every square inch of wall space is covered with faded Elvis photos and the man’s been dead for how many years?

TAMMY
That's the beauty of this place! It’s like a shrine devoted to “The King.” It's all too…wonderful

LEN
Are you saying that this…this gas station and one-table-diner was the King of Rock and Roll’s eatery of choice? Not!

TAMMY
For your information they say he used to eat fried chicken here and sometimes he even entertained diners

LEN
Was that before or after he turned into the Goodyear blimp? If I had known we were coming here to eat, I’d have checked to make sure my insurance policy was paid up

 TAMMY
You know how long I hadda wait to get reservations for this restaurant…

LEN
…obviously not long enough…

TAMMY
…seven months! If you think I’m going to give up the chance to dine here…

LEN
…and a fine dining establishment it is – if you’re into salmonella poisoning

TAMMY
Get a grip! The waiter is coming to try to act normal, if that’s possible
 
               the waiter dressed in an Elvis jumpsuit struts over, swinging his hips in a
              typical Elvis-like walk. He smoothes the sides of his hair with his hands,
             frequently

WAITER
(swinging his hips between every word)
Evening folks’. Need a menu? Uh-huh – oh yeah…

LEN
No. We prefer to use ESP to order. Of course we need a menu!

TAMMY
Don’t mind my husband – I don’t. Leave the menu here and we’ll choose

LEN
So tacky. All the dishes are Elvis songs. 'Be-bop-a-lu-la' chicken wings…' The 'Love Me Tender' T-bone looks questionable and it comes with fries that are probably a couple months old and a 'I Did It My Way' salad. Look at this: says here on the menu that all their steaks are aged to perfection. Yesterday's road-kill most likely

TAMMY
Have you considered that your cranial spark plugs have stopped kicking in? I can’t make up my mind – so many choices…

               the waiter comes over to take the order

LEN
Are all those dishes served a la carte?

WAITER
(swinging hips)
No – on a plate. Uh-huh…

TAMMY
Just choose something already, will you?

WAITER
Want me to come back, folks? Uh-huh…

                                                                                                            SFX: LIGHTS DIM

TAMMY
Ssshhh! Quiet! The shows is gonna begin

                                                                                                           SOUND: GUITAR TWANG

LEN
I don’t see why we hav’ta be quiet. Cheez – I can hear the sound of someone pumping gas outside, not to mention the smell. Mind you, it's hard to tell the difference between the food and the gas

 

              (The song from “2001: A Space Odyssey” is heard and the waiter now dressed

               in a mechanic’s uniform on the other side of the room walks in front of the

              counter holding a hand mic)

VOICE OVER
“For you entertainment and pllllea-sure, the King has entered the building!”

 An over-weight bordering-on-obese man dressed in a white jump suit enters, stopping to pose while leaning on a cane. A wide belt hangs well below a sagging stomach; black aviator glasses cover his eyes and a badly-fitting black wig sits lob-sided towards the front of his head

(VOICE OVER)
“Direct from his engagement at the luxurious Pink Flamingo Laundromat and Bank Drive Thru in Tijuana, Mex-i-co, the management of Jackson’s 7/11 and Diner is proud to present, “the” King of Rock’n’Roll himself, the one – the only – El-vis!”

A bent over Elvis slowly makes his way to the other side of the room. He bends over to kiss Len, who pushes him way

ELVIS
“Whoops – sorry. Gotta get my eyes checked

He whips out a dirty handkerchief, spits on it and cleans his eyes and replaces it in a back pocket

ELVIS
(in weak squeaky voice)
Thank y’all very much! It’s the first time I been back this way goin’ on twenty years…or maybe it’s thirty…could be forty… Anyway… Good t'see y’all ain’t fergetten the King

              whips out his handkerchief again and blows his nose

ELVIS
Guess I ain’t the same Elvis you remember a ways back, huh? But then who is?       

Starts coughing and choking. Scantily dresses nurses rush over to pat him on
the back
 
ELVIS
See? I still got it but now I don’t know what to do with it! Thank y’all very much… Listen ladies – go see if you can find my extra set of dentures that I left in a steak yesterday.

He chokes again and a well-endowed female doctor wearing tight fitting clothing enters, with a stethoscope draped around her neck

DOCTOR
Now Mr. Elvis – honey – you know you gotta take it easy. Your ticker ain’t what it used to be

ELVIS
(laughing and staring at her breasts)
Yeah but ask me if I care. Thank you all very much. And now before the spaceship comes to take me away, I’m gonna sing you a personal favourite of mine…

              ELVIS sings the first few lines of “My Way” completely off-key

LEN
(starting to get up)
Oh fer… We’re not gonna stay and listen to this… The man is obviously senile

              Sound of tires squeaking to a stop and the slam of car doors

ELVIS
Uh-oh…they’re coming back…I knew they’d find me… Damn aliens!

Two males wearing white outfits move on either side of Elvis and take his arms

MALE 1
C’mon pops. You got another gig at the Sunnyvale Nursing Home

ELVIS
ut…but…I ain’t finished my set, yet!

 MALE 1
Shaking his head and winking at Len and Tammy
You don’t wanna be late for your big entrance.

ELVIS
Where’s my peanut butter and banana sandwich. I caint sing without it 

               the two men start to lead Elvis off the stage but Elvis stops and addresses the
               couple

ELVIS
Thank you all very much!

Elvis walks over, signs a piece of paper and hands it to Len and then exits with the men
 
LEN
(addressing waiter)
That was not “the” Elvis Presley now, was it? You got us here under false pretences. And that’s against the law, y’know!

WAITER
The guy is 80 years old. Whad’ya expect? He’s got two hip replacements, a bad knee and now all that shaking he does is the real thing, poor bastard. By the way, know that piece of paper he handed you?

LEN
I really couldn’t care less about the man’s autograph… In fact this is what I think of you AND your Elvis

               LEN rips up the piece of paper into small pieces

WAITER
You shouldn’t have done that. Uh-uh…

LEN
Elvis my a-s-s!

WAITER
That piece of paper would’a given you a tank of gas with your meal. Oh well…uh-huh…

Len throws himself down on the floor picking up the pieces of paper trying to put them together

LEN
Don't just stand there, Tammy. A tank of gas is a tank of gas is…

VOICE OVER
“The King has left the building 

LEN
(on his knees scooping up pieces of paper frantically)

Hang on a minute. I can put these pieces together… gimme some of that leftover barbeque sauce...

 

 

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36. Author Dean Kootz Interviews His Dog Anna, Star of Ask Anna

Anna Koontz is Dean’s remarkable dog, who is poised to follow in her dad’s footsteps with her first advice book for canines. She will soon become the advice columnist for the canine world!

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37. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

KidSheriff-500x389As I sit here typing, I am staring at a poster for last year’s Caldecott winner, Brian Floca’s Locomotive. Would the committee that honored that wonderful book have given the time of day to the utter silliness that is Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads?

Of course, I have no idea. Anyway: new year, new committee. (That’s one of the best things about these book committees — they are new each year.) January will be filled with reading and rereading; making notes and formulating arguments; looking over the list of nominated books and reading over the written support for each book. When they see Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads on the list (for I cannot imagine a Caldecott world that does not include this book on its list), some members will scratch their heads and utter the words I often uttered when I served on the committee: “What the heck? Who nominated this? Now I have to read it again???” Yes, you do, fellow members! Bwahahaha.

And here is why someone (or maybe several someones) will nominate this book.

1. It’s so dang funny. COME ON! Look at that cover. Here we have a little white-clad hombre named Ryan. His foot rests on a tortoise. Ryan seems to be pondering hard about something. Look closer at him. His belt buckle sports a dinosaur. And, to the left, we see three dudes (the Toad brothers) staring at him, evil intent in their eyes. Well, most of their eyes. The middle guy, whose teeth are loosely sprinkled across his gums, has an eye patch. And — ewwwww — his ear is half-bitten off. The bottom dude has a gunshot hole through his hat, and the top guy has a righteous scar on his nose.

2. Use of color. Have you ever seen so much brown in your whole life? The end pages and every illustration is chockablock full of brown. Because of All That Brown, the eye easily notices the occasional guy in white riding a tortoise or the whitish cow being kissed by outlaws or the red tongue of an outlaw insulting Mayor McMuffin.

(COME ON — I just typed that a cow was being kissed by outlaws and someone was riding a tortoise! And the mayor is named McMuffin?! You know you want this book! Right now.)

3. Use of line. With all that brown going on, Lane Smith is going to have some artistic magic up his sleeve. He does. You know he does. First the town is awash in vertical lines. The mayor’s pants are decorated with straight lines; even his round ample belly is made up of straight vertical lines. The most dramatic scene, where the sheriff is measuring for the jail, uses shape and line to extend the story. The legs of the Toad brothers menace the page with their size and sharp angles while our hero measures the jail door.

It’s not until the varmints have been tricked into entering the jail that those vertical lines disappear as we see hats being thrown into the air and townspeople dancing. Oh, and some lady in a ginormous pink bonnet has her fist raised.

4. The humor. Nuff said. Having the sheriff come into town on a tortoise taking two full page-turns is genius. (“Give him a minute.”) Making the boy’s only area of expertise dinosaurs will make any kid laugh. Out loud. For real. Every single spread has funny stuff going on. Slow down. Look.

Will this be enough to catch the eye of the committee? Yes. Will that translate into votes for the book? That is a whole ‘nother thang. Will the committee love talking about this? What do you think?

 

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38. The Book Review Club - Don't Call Me Ishmael

Don't Call Me Ishmael
Michael Gerard Bauer
MG/YA

If the cold, dreary, dark days of January have blanketed you, this is just the right read. Don't Call Me Ishmael is Bud, not Buddy hilarious and set in Australia, where, currently, it is summer! So pull up a chair and toast your toes on the warmth and humor of this story.

Basic plot: Ishmael Leseur, a Year Nine student (that's down under for ninth grader), suffers from ILS, Ishmael Leseur Syndrome, which is Ishmael's name for his particular brand of adolescent/early teeanage agony. It's made up of a "crawl in a hole" embarrassing story why he parents named him after one of literature's most renowned protagonists, a bully who teases him about said name, a girl whom he is crazy for but who doesn't know he exists, and a group of misfit friends who are constantly getting themselves into embarrassment squared messes.

I discovered this book in, of all things, German (although the author is from and story set in Australia, so no worries, you can easily get it in English). My husband comes from ye olde country and we've raised our daughters bi-lingually, which has meant a lot of audiobooks "auf Deutsch". I chose this title for its length. Shameful, I know, but it was six hours long instead of the meager two so many middle grade German audible books come in at. So there you have it, random parameters (barrage young ears with as much second language as possible) unearthed a humor goldmine.

I wish I could say I know how Bauer does it, but I don't, which is why I've gotten the other two books in this series to get behind his humor trick. He is spot on with adolescent funny. My daughters and I laugh out loud in the car on the way to school every morning. Me, maybe more. The agony of teenagerdom maybe hits a little too close to home for barrel laughs for them. Theirs is more the "somebody else is going through this?!?" ha-ha-whew.

So there you have it. Pick up a copy of Don't Call Me Ishmael and start 2015 off with a good laugh and an uproarious story. For more cheer in these bleak months, check out the reviews on Barrie Summy's website (and pray that groundhog doesn't see his shadow!)

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39. The Rip

Did you hear it?

Not the sound of traffic rolling or the chirping of nature out the window. No, that was a distinct sound. It was a rip. I’m sure it was a rip.

I don’t dare look down. I can’t be positive it was me that ripped. It could have been someone nearby – or if it was me, maybe it was a piece of my shirt. That kind of thing happens all the time.

Shirt tails spontaneously rip when exposed to direct light. It happens to guys over forty mostly because they don’t ever tuck their shirts in. I think they feel better if the curve of their belly isn’t accentuated. That way, people don’t know they’re wearing a 2XL. Sorry if that is rude. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to wear a 2XL. I don’t want to be mean, but HEY! You’re interjecting yourself into my stream of consciousness and trying to subvert the point. The issue at stake isn’t even whether I tuck my shirts in or not! The issue is whether the sound I heard was MY pants ripping.

 

download

 

I swear they aren’t too small. I’ve never been one of those guys to wear tight jeans. I certainly couldn’t pull off the whole skinny jean thing. Reason number 328 that makes me glad I’m not a girl (#1 being that we guys can pee anywhere). I hate tight pants. Okay, so I’m not dead, I don’t mind them on some people, but there should be a government application you have to fill out before you can wear your pants too tight. Mine would get rejected instantly!

 

Besides, I hate wearing anything tight or constricting. I remember when I first joined the working world and business casual had not yet become acceptable. I had Walter Mittyesque daydreams about wrestling a bear and being drug around by my necktie. Well, they weren’t actually daydreams, I fell asleep at my desk often because I wasn’t quite used to being out of college. So I guess they were just dreams.

HEY! There you go again. Stop it!

Will you look down? I don’t want to. I’m afraid.

NO!

 

image

 

If you look down, and my pants are ripped, then our relationship could enter a very awkward stage. Our friendship would never be the same. Kinda like when the strainer from the faucet flew off and sprayed water all over my pants. I lost a bunch of friends that day because everyone at work thought I’d peed myself. And when I said I loved that guys can pee anywhere, I wasn’t talking about the break room at work. I was more thinking in the woods. The great outdoors – manly stuff like peeing on trees or a fire.

Who says we have a relationship anyway?

I mean, you won’t even tell me if I have a large gaping hole in my pants… which would be bad. Real bad. Why does it always happen in public? Why not when you get them out of the dryer and you put them on in the privacy of your own home? A rip there would be much more pallatable. More forgiving. I could laugh it off and change clothes without anyone else knowing. But it never happens that way. Pants have a way of telling a story unlike any other article of clothing.

Uh Oh! I feel a breeze – and not a natural breeze unless you live in a special colony or ride a boat and stick your leg up on the side.

Oh well. Here’s to a rip-roaring New Year. Now that we’ve got this embarrassing sequence finished on day 3, maybe we’re covered on humility for the balance of 2015


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40. Telephone, by Mac Barnett | Book Trailer

It's time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter.

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41. The Rosie Effect

In this follow-up to The Rosie Project, Don and Rosie are back for round two, this time in New York and with a new twist to challenge Don’s linear, logical, not-so-flexible way of interacting with the world: Rosie is pregnant. This sequel is just as funny as the first book. Books mentioned in this post [...]

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42. Funny Words

Use funny words to make your writing more humorous. 

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/a-list-of-funny-words-to-help-you-writing-funnier-stories

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43. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett | Book Trailer

The multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have perfect pacing in Sam and Dave Dig A Hole. Ages 4-8

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44. Sorry To See You Go

My technophobic wife has taken an increasing shine to internet shopping.

Point, click, receive, wrap… Point, click, receive, wrap…

At this point, you might be thinking this is another husband-rant about all of the clicking activity and the bill that will come due in January. Well, that may be a subject for another post (I hope the title changes), but right now I’m trying to wrap my mind around the amount of email spam that her clicking has brought us. You see, we share an email account. Mistake? Maybe… but it has worked thus far.

Here is the problem, cleaning my inbox is the one thing I’m OCD about. I need it to be current or I lose focus. At work, I churn through emails faster than a Gopher on balsa-wood. If I can answer it immediately, it is gone. If it makes me mad, gone. If it is ambiguous and may not pertain to me, whoops, I hit delete. My inbox is squeaky-clean. The one at work, that is.

The shared inbox at home gets bogged down in December with order confirmations, shipping information, and advertisements. Oh the advertisements. Did I mention my wife is a technophobe? So, while she has mastered the checkout function of two hundred seventy-four websites, I can’t convince her that they won’t think any less of her if she unchecks the little box that says, “Would you like us to send you an ungodly amount of emails that are irrelevant, obnoxious, and likely to cause enmity between husband and wife?”

I should be working a second job to prepare for the aforementioned bill, but I spend my December trying to unsubscribe from every mailing list known to mankind. Only they lie to you when they allow you to hold the illusion that leaving them is an option. It’s a web of deceit – an impossibility. You cannot be removed from mailing lists. “You have been removed from our mailing list. We are sorry to see you go” is a lie from the bowels of the earth.

unsubscribe

What the little button should say is, “Thank you for verifying your existence, I will now torture you every fifteen minutes with a blinking email reminder of your incompetence.”

After trying unsuccessfully to remove our email address from yet another list, I marched to the den, bowed out my chest, and sternly gave my wife an ultimatum!

“Either you learn to uncheck the subscribe button, or we are changing our email address!”

 

Women don’t like ultimatums.

 

Of course, our email address remains the same and though wounded and alone, I am off to fight a MailChimp.


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45. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows

god rest ye merry gentlemen 2

Just when you thought you were safe from puns for the rest of the holidays…

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


1 Comments on HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows, last added: 12/22/2014
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46. The Greatest Battle

I consider myself a war buff. I love reading historic accounts of combat. I don’t discriminate between time period or conflict. Because of the volume of material, I have probably spent more time delving into World War 2 than any other. When I was in the Army, I drove a beat up WW 2 era Deuce-and-a-half and always wondered about its history.

imageHistorians argue about which battle is the greatest – Waterloo, Stalingrad, Hastings, Yorktown, Thermopylae, Guadalcanal, The Battle of the Bulge, the list goes on. Like everything else in life, no one can seem to agree. When compiling such a list, the qualifiers become important. Things such as lives lost, duration, strategies, and conditions all come into play when deciding which is supreme.

It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, I’ve got plenty of those. I just don’t like to argue in general. I get distracted or flustered and lose my place like when I drop my book and reread the same pages over and over again before I figure out where I left off. Only an argument is live, verbal combat. When I lose my place, I sit there open-mouthed wondering if I look as stupid as I feel. So like everyone else on the losing side, I hone in on one point and try to drive it home even if I am totally wrong and know it.

The Baltic Sea is in New Mexico. It isn’t? I will repeat that thirty-seven times, forcing you to get out your phone and Google it, which allows me time to escape the fracas unscathed. I’m gone, therefore I win.

This leads to my opinion of the greatest battle which I believe is a conflict going on today – right now! RIGHT NOW!

You might think I am waxing philosophically about a moral or ethical conflict for the hearts and minds of people. Think again, I’m nowhere near deep enough for that. No, I am talking about the Battle of the Christmas Tree going on in my den as I type.

This battle has two combatants: The cats vs. the presents. The cats investigated the tree the minute it arrived. They united their forces and conquered it quickly. It is now their territory and they are very protective of it. The two of them alternate on watch and have made a formidable occupation force. Their confidence never waned… until the presents arrived.

image

As presents do, they marched in slowly but steadily. They landed through the front door and also surprised the occupiers from the garage entrance. Strange men in brown uniforms delivered them, but some were brought in by the woman-thing who seems to be working for both sides. She pets and feeds the cats, yet adds to the stack of presents assaulting from every flank. She is a crafty sort. Worse yet, she puts little ribbons on top to lull the cats from their strategic high ground. They can’t avoid the ribbons, which are almost as alluring as the ornaments with bells.

I have no idea who will win this battle. Epic is too small a word for it. The cats seem to rule the night while the presents hold the day (sounds like a Billy Joel song). It is a seesaw affair likely only resolved by the Take the Tree to the Chipper Treaty.

That landmark agreement is coming soon. Until then, may peace reign in your home unlike mine – where it appears to be an elusive dream.


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47. THE VISIT - a Christmas play-ette

Wrote this a while back but have done some editing and bringing it back being that it's almost Christmas.


 

THE VISIT

 

  CAST OF CHARACTERS:

 

Molly Rigby, 88, senior citizen
David Grey, 20-something reporter
Paul Seaton, camera man

 

SETTING:     Recreation hall of a senior's residence. A few seniors are dozing, some in wheelchairs, others are in regular chairs.

AT RISE:       A reporter (DAVID) enters the room in preparation for an interview with MOLLY RIGBY, who claims to have communicated with whom she believes to be, Santa Claus

DAVID enters the room, taking notes and practicing his introduction

 
DAVID

"We're here at the Happy Hollows Seniors Home to interview resident, Molly Rigby, who claims to have been visited by old Saint Nick, himself. Come Christmas Eve, Molly has stated she will be leaving on an extended trip…”

 
                         PAUL enters, holding a TV camera

 
PAUL

So…what’s the story, here? I mean, it’s Christmas Eve! Couldn’t this one have waited?

 
DAVID

Hey – it’s not my decision! The brass wants us to do a “feel-good” story and interview an old granny claiming to have met the real Santa Claus,

 
PAUL

Yeah and the tooth fairy is alive and well. Is she like…’all there’ if you get my drift?

 
DAVID

Who knows. It's one of those seniors sleeping over there.
 

DAVID approaches the trio, gently shaking each woman.

 
DAVID

Um…’scuse me… Misses… Ladies…Hello? Molly? Which one of you is Molly?


                          MOLLY stirs, sits upright

 
                                                                        MOLLY

Who wants to know? That a TV camera? You’re another one of those TV wisenheimer news guys! Take a hike! I’m sleeping

                         
DAVID

Really – this will only take a few minutes. The world wants – needs - to know if it’s true!

 
MOLLY

Like I said – make like the wind and blow away

 
   MOLLY goes back to sleep. DAVID shakes her gently.

 
DAVID

Paul - this is the lucky lady we were discussing who’s met Santa

 
MOLLY

I was having such a nice dream ‘til your friend here came along and popped it

 
PAUL

Meet Dave Grey, Molly, the reporter that's made WGMZ the number one station in the market

 
DAVE

I'm sure Molly doesn't care about those things

 
MOLLY

You're like all the others. You think I’m a little ‘cuckoo’ in the ‘woo-coo.’ Well I’m not, you know! Oh ‘ye of little faith!

 
DAVID

If you’ll stand next to me right over here and we’ll do the interview…

 
MOLLY

I know what I saw and no one’s gonna tell me diff’rent. Now let me go back to sleep so’s I can be rested when he comes for me

 
DAVID

It’ll only take a few minutes and then we’ll be gone. Come on, Molly! It’s Christmas Eve! A time for miracles. Don’t you want to share your good luck with everyone?

 
MOLLY

Think you're the first reporter to doubt me? I may be old and crotchety but I’m not crazy! Okay – go for it but only because you’ll be the last. Hey  - watch where you put that microphone.

 
DAVID

We’ll do the interview and then we’ll be outta your hair. Really

 
MOLLY

Better make it fast ‘cause I’m expecting my special visitor real soon now

 
PAUL

Guess a family member is taking you home, being that it's Christmas Eve?

 
MOLLY

I suppose you could call him that being that we’re very close friends now. He’ll be coming for me in a big, big sleigh that flies faster than the speed of light. We’re gonna go up, up and fly high in the sky. Just him and me and …

 
DAVID
(snickering)

This special ‘friend’ of yours… would he, like… be dressed all in red with a long white beard and wearing black shiny boots and white gloves?

 
MOLLY

Last time he was here, told me t’pack a couple of things for our long trip just the two of us is gonna take. and he'd be 'round to get me on Christmas Eve. Tonight is Christmas Eve, right?

 
PAUL
(laughing)

This… friend of yours, would he…like…have big white wings and wear a halo or was he dressed in black and carry a big sickle…

 
DAVID

…don’t mind him. Thinks he’s funny. When did this… ‘friend’ first show up?

 
MOLLY

Can we sit down? I wanna save my strength for tonight. Yeah - he first dropped in ‘bout a month ago. ‘Why me?’ I asked him. ‘Why not you’, he says. Can’t argue with that logic…

 
DAVID

How'd you know he was the real one? I mean, there are a lot of people claiming to be Santa this time of year

 
MOLLY

…and y’know what else he said? ‘Molly - you never stopped believing in me.’ That’s what my friend told me., ‘Cause I believe!  

 
DAVID

How do you get in touch with him? 


MOLLY

I don’t get in touch with him, silly! He sends me messages

 
DAVID

How’d I know you were gonna say that?

 
MOLLY

Only I can receive his messages (points to head) – right here


PAUL

Oh fer… We’re wasting time. Let’s wrap up.

 
MOLLY

You think I’m crazy and hear voices, don’t you? I know-what- I-know! Wanna hear how we became friends? Last Christmas Eve at this very time, I sent him a letter asking if I could go along t’help deliver toys? I mean, being that I’m 88 years of  age, who knows if I’ll even be around next year so I told him in my letter that it was now or never

 
PAUL

This man…your friend answered your letter? Did it have a stamp and a post-mark?

 
MOLLY

Always with the questions – and doubts. You young people can’t accept that people can be nice to each other for no reason. I didn’t bother checking for a post mark. I don’t hav’ta because -


DAVID

- I know. You believe. You have to admit that there are a lot of phonies running cons at this time of the year

 
MOLLY

Oh ye of little faith, sonny boy! He never has asked me for anything. Not one cent! Wanna know how he introduced himself?

 
DAVID

By telephone and he asked you to make a donation to his toy campaign?

 
MOLLY

Found him sitting on the end of my bed, watching Seinfeld re-runs and laughing his head off. That old fart has a good sense of humor, y’know! Suppose he has to what with all the doubters he meets. I mean - you can imagine how shocked I was t’see a stranger watchin’ TV in my room. ‘

 
DAVID

He told you that he was Santa and you believed him?

 
MOLLY

You sound like all the rest and they doubted me, too. Why wouldn’t I?

 
DAVID

You hav’ta understand that it's not everyone who gets a visit from Santa in person

 
PAUL

We almost finished, here? I’d like to make it home to open gifts with my kids

 
MOLLY

Told me he was gonna take me away on his sleigh, t’stay with him...forever! Me! Molly Rigby, going t’ live with Santa Claus and his elves. I just couldn't believe it!

 
DAVID

Me neither. So, you took him up on his offer?

 
MOLLY

Are you serious? Wouldn't everyone?

 
DAVID

Are you're telling me that you went for a ride with…

 
MOLLY

…Santa Claus? You bet'cha your perfectly sprayed hair, I did

 
DAVID

(laughing)

And I suppose there were the reindeer parked on the roof, or maybe outside your bedroom window? How does an elderly lady – no disrespect intended – climb into a sleigh? I see you use a walker

 
MOLLY

Somehow  - and I don't know how he did it - I found myself floating in the air, right out of the window. It was one of those high tech sleighs with flashing lights…

 
DAVID

A…high…tech sleigh? Led by high tech reindeer too, I guess?

 
MOLLY

Now that I think about it - their antlers did look like antennas…and the sleigh had colored flashing lights all around

 
DAVID

And was this…Santa… on the - small-ishside with a big head, large black eyes and grey-ish white skin color?

 
MOLLY

Could be but then I'm color-blind. D’ya wanna meet him?

 
DAVID

Him – who? You mean, Santa? Why not? If nothing else it’ll make a good Christmas story and we can expose a holiday phony

 
MOLLY

Now you hav’ta promise me that you won’t try recording us leaving. Santa doesn’t like publicity or anything. He’s a very simple, private man

 
DAVID

Yeah…course…no recording… Right Paul?

 
MOLLY

Promise me you won’t!  Y’a gotta promise!

 
DAVID

I promise. Ready, Paul?

 
PAUL

We’re leaving? I’m ready when you are

 
DAVID

To capture the moment that Molly, here, leaves the rest home for the North Pole

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48. The Secret Hum of Daisies, by Tracy Holczer | Book Review

This book will appeal to young readers whose families are or have been transient or who have unresolved family issues

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49. 10 Things to Do to Make The Holidays Special (a humorous look)

A humorous look at the Holidays.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 9.37.21 AM

1. Think how silly fruitcake is. Think of times when you received fruitcake as a gift. Draw fruitcakes. Contemplate why there are hard things in a cake. Who designed fruitcakes? A dentist?

2. Be grateful for all you have. There are so many who are less fortunate. Oh no. You are empathic so now you are thinking of those who are unfortunate. You can FEEL their pain. Now you feel deep guilt. Maybe you shouldn’t have so much. Maybe you feel guilty for not having more and WANTING more. And those poor people. No, don’t think about the whole gratefulness thing. Just go to the next one.

3. Avoid holiday music unless it is by Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole. Those dudes could really kick it. Dreamy, right?

4. Count the amount of people on Facebook that go on and on about the real meaning of Christmas and how you are so materialistic because you like gifts and cookies. Now laugh at them as you eat your sprinkled-laden gingerbread while playing with your new computer.

5. Drive around and watch blinking lights in the neighborhood houses and have mini seizures like the kids in Japan who watched crazy animation.

6. See how many people you can knock down in the sale aisles. Like bowling. Better yet, head to Walmart and see how many people and carts can fit into one teeny tiny narrow aisle.  One? Two? Three? Four?!

7. Don’t listen to I’ll Be Home for the Holidays. I warned you on this one. Just don’t. Whoever wrote that song is a sadist.

8. Treat yourself to a fairy alphabet deck. (Oh c’mon, I had to throw in one of my products, right? And sign up for a class at an early bird rate. Oh now, I am really pushing it, eh?)

9. Watch Rudolph and laugh and repeat “I want to be a dentist,” about a million times. I just love that line! You can hang out with the Misfit Toys and not feel different. Dang it, I want to find that island! Road Trip!

10. Have a happy holiday, how ever happy looks to you, even if it is sitting under a tree in the middle of the forest with a color pencil set.

IMG_2964

Happy Holidays from,

designingfairysig


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50. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein | Book Review

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein, is about a madcap competition where kids search bookrooms based on the Dewey Decimal system, examine mysterious library cards, solve rebuses, compare assigned readings, and encounter holograms of authors who offer timely tips.

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