Category Archives: If You Liked

Funny Stuff (alternate post title: If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid. . .)

Funny books are always in high demand.  Who doesn’t like to laugh?  Of course, humor is very subjective, so what one kid finds hilarious can be utterly lame to another, but here are some humorous books that have been loved by many of our Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans, plus others with a different brand of humor.

I’ve already written here about Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  That book and its sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back, are pretty much guaranteed to be appreciated by anyone who likes the Wimpy Kid books.  Angleberger has another book, not part of that series, called Horton Halfpott, or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset, that will likely also appeal.

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian centers on a kid who doesn’t like to read trying to solve the mystery of his former babysitter’s death while she was watching him.  The cartoons in the margins provide some lightness and humor, and the mystery adds some emotional weight.

Another book about a kid who hates to read, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading (by Tommy Greenwald) follows a middle school boy’s exploits as he attempts to get by in school without ever cracking a book.  Funny and fast-paced.

Time travel? Check.  Aliens?  Check.  Two kids trying to save the world?  Check.  Herbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson has all of these, and more.

Micheal Buckley’s NERDS series (about the National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society, populated by superhero spies who have gone undercover into middle school) has an interesting dilemma.  Kids who are reading these books LOVE them, but there is a bit of reluctance to initially check them out because of the title.  It’s funny, because once one kid takes the plunge, that whole class will happily check them out and talk about them and speculate on when the next one is coming out.  Fast, adventurous, and very silly.
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander is the goofy, suspenseful story of  how a kid named Mac’s bathroom-stall business (he helps protect little kids from bullies; get underage kids into R-rated movies; sells test answers–pretty much anything for a buck or two) gets complicated when he goes up against a big bully with a gambling ring.  Kids get hooked right away by the whole idea of a shady business run out of an unused school bathroom stall, and the suspense over what Staples (the big bully) will do next pulls them through.
In Cosmic (by Frank Cottrell Boyce), 12-year-old Liam looks like an adult and ends up in various funny, odd situations as a result (test driving a car, for example).  His ability to pass as a grown-up is all good fun until he ends up being the only “adult” on a spacecraft full of kids that is off course and heading for disaster.  This novel is far-fetched, for sure, but great fun to read.
Anything by Daniel Pinkwater.  Pinkwater has a quirky sense of humor, so he’s the sort of writer one either loves or hates.  I have met adults who say that reading his books when they were kids changed their lives.  Check out The Neddiad and/or The Yggyssey for a middle-school-friendly taste of Pinkwater’s odd, goofy writing style.
It occurs to me, looking at this list, that all of the protagonists are boys.  That’s not right!  I think they are books that will appeal to both boys and girls, but I don’t like having a post with that imbalance.  So, coming soon:  a post on funny stuff with girl protagonists.  If anyone has suggestions of titles for such a post, please send them along!
I also apologize for the awful layout of the images/text here.  If anyone can tell me how to fix that, I’m anxious to hear it!
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Filed under fiction, funny, If You Liked, mystery, Uncategorized

If You Liked The Hunger Games, You Might Like. . .

I would like to do a series of posts based on what kids might like, based on what they already know they love.  The extremely popular titles fly off our shelves so easily and build up long lists of holds, but there are always so many other great books that don’t get as much attention.

First up, since it has been so steadily in demand for two years now: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Fans of The Hunger Games series might also enjoy. . .

The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men)   

Todd is the youngest person in a society of only men, in which everyone’s thoughts (including those of Todd’s dog Manchee) can be heard in a chaotic mass of Noise.  One day, Todd finds a space of silence in the woods, and begins a journey of discovering the history of his world and exploring its uncertain future.  The writing here is incredible—suspenseful, imaginative, and intense from the very beginning.

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

I mentioned this one in my last post.  My book club kids have been reading it, and seem to all agree that it’s “really good, but really dark, but not so dark in the end, but really dark.  But really good.”

The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure)

Thomas wakes up in an elevator, with no memory of where he came from, and becomes part of a society of boys trapped in an enclosed space, surrounded by a maze they attempt to escape from each day.  When a girl arrives with a mysterious note, things begin to change.  This series has been raved about by pretty much every kid I’ve known who has read it.

The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold)

This is a gentler version of a dystopic future that lends itself well to younger middle school readers.  A city has been created underground to preserve the human race in the event of war, but the inhabitants have no awareness of the world beyond them.  Supplies in Ember have begun to wane and the future is uncertain, when two kids discover an ancient clue that might lead to a way to survive.  Fast-paced and full of drama.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

From the Amazon.com review by Anne Bartholomew:  “The shifting landscapes, unexpected plot punches, and bold, brave characters found in Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron are nothing short of thrilling: fans of Garth Nix and Suzanne Collins will take to this epic, twisty fantasy instantly, but it’s also the kind of book that will draw in the most hesitant fantasy reader.”   Only a few kids have grabbed this one so far, but they have come back wanting the sequel, Sapphique.

Matched by Ally Condie

From the description on Amazon.com: “Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.”  A bit of romance mixed in with a bit of dystopia.  Kids have really been enjoying this one, and the sequel Crossed is in high demand.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

From the description on Amazon.com: “In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three ‘dumpsite boys’ make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city. One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It’s up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong.”

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Fast-paced and dark, this dystopic novel set in the Gulf Coast follows the struggle of a teenage boy and his friends as they try to balance basic survival, protection of an important treasure that might change his life dramatically, and the boy’s precarious relationship with his drug-addicted, abusive father.  This was a Printz Award winner and National Book Award finalist, for good reason.  The writing is tight and the suspense relentless.

And a few more . . .

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

The Gone Series by Michael Grant

If you can think of others, please comment and add your suggestions!

Note:  My recommendations in this post are probably most appropriate for 7th and 8th graders (and older teens), because this genre of book tends to be dark and violent.  I have not read all of these titles.  Many of them get on my radar from reviews, but most of these have been recommended and enjoyed by some of our older middle school students.  For parents who are concerned about appropriateness for their child, I highly recommend the website commonsensemedia.org for detailed information about specific titles, including language, violence, drinking/drugs, educational value, presence of positive role models and points/questions for family discussion.

(Apologies for the wacky formatting of this post.  I can’t get the thumbnails and text to line up the way I want!)

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Filed under dystopia, fantasy, If You Liked, post-apocalyptic, science fiction