Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What I'm Reading: Funny Books

This week, we are focusing on funny books. This is kind of a tough one for's not that I don't think I have a sense of humor, or don't enjoy laughing (though who would admit to that, I suppose!), but I am not really drawn to comedies in any of my entertainment choices (books, movies, stand up, etc.). Throw in that I am looking at books that are meant to be funny to teenage boys and girls and I'm even more out of my element. But as with anything that puts you outside of your comfort zone, it's certainly not a bad thing!

The book I was assigned to read this week was Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, which I did enjoy, and had some laugh out loud moments. Others I have found in my searching this week are highlighted below, again in no particular order.

Swim the Fly
Don Calame, Candlewick Press, 2009

Also found through an Amazon search, I was intrigued by this book to see if I'd find humor in a book that, on the surface, is targeted more towards boys. The premise: Fifteen-year old Matt and his 2 best friends make a pact to see a real (i.e. in the flesh) naked girl before the end of the summer. While there is some crude humor involved (not unexpected with the premise) as the three boys find themselves in some precarious situations, I was surprised to find some heart, too. With strong supporting characters in Matt's crush's best friend as well as his lonely grandfather, there is more to this book than meets the eye. Calame has successfully worked as a screenwriter for multiple studios and it shows: with short, snappy chapters, the story moves quickly, and has you rooting for Matt to achieve his goal, and then some.

All American Girl 
Meg Cabot, HarperTeen, 2009

As a some-time chick lit devotee, I've seen Cabot's adult titles but have never read any, and didn't put two and two together that she is a prolific children/YA author as well. Once I started looking, I saw her everywhere, but was first drawn to this title through an Amazon search. The Prologue captured me immediately with main character Samantha's "Top Ten" list on why she can't stand her sister, Lucy, which also provides insight into her middle-child plight, caught between a beauty and a brain. The story quickly changes course when Sam thwarts an assassination on the President and is thrust into the spotlight as a national celebrity. Filled with funny (albeit unbelievable) twists and turns, Cabot succeeds in captivating the reader with Sam's funny and authentic take on life as a fifteen-year old.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
David Lubar, Speak, 2007

What does your typical freshman boy want when he starts high school? For Scott, it's definitely not a new sibling, but that's what he's getting! I first saw this title in some online searching at home and then tracked it down at my local B&N where it completely drew me in. In the midst of his daily life in school, Scott begins writing a manual for his future sibling, and his letters are funny, helpful and touching, all at the same time. From girls to English class to extracurriculars, Scott covers it all as he makes his way through 9th grade in a book that will appeal to boys and girls alike from middle school to early high school. 

Guys Read: Funny Business
Jon Scieszka (Editor), Walden Pond Press, 2010

I love the concept behind the "Guys Read" Library. Statistics abound on how at some point in middle school, many boys stop reading for pleasure (compared to girls, anyway), so Scieszka has taken on the mission of creating a volume of books, organized by genre, that will hopefully appeal to the reluctant upper elementary through middle school reader. In this volume, he has curated 10 short, funny stories from leading YA writers. As he writes in the introduction, "humor is seriously one of the best kinds of reading" and these stories do not disappoint. In addition to being great standalone pieces, this volume could also be used as a jumping off point to find authors that students will want to read more of.

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