Filled with tender, teachable moments, this one’s also sure to tickle the funny bone.


Great Grandpa is Weird

From the Family Snaps series

A young boy does not want to visit his “weird” great-grandfather.

In Bilovsky’s debut picture book, a boy is traveling in the car with his mother when he realizes she is driving to his great-grandfather’s house. As they pull in the driveway, he gets out, crosses his arms and declares: “I’m not going in.” But his mother gently beckons him, explaining, “Poppy is my grandpa. That makes him your GREAT grandpa. That’s very special.” As they approach the house, the boy explains why he doesn’t want to visit: “He sounds like a frog.” In the boy’s imagination—represented by a bubble—is a frog that looks like his great-grandpa with a gaping smile, white bushy eyebrows, and reading glasses resting on his nose. His mother explains: “One too many ‘I love you’s talked his voice right out.” His mother, ever the wise one, always soothes her son’s qualms with his great-grandfather’s quirks. Her son complains: “He stares at me funny, like a fly who can’t tell what is real.” This time a friendly fly wears great-grandpa’s glasses topped by his characteristic white eyebrows. His mother tears up: “Millions of memories dance in those eyes. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is now and what is a memory.” Bishop’s illustrations, beautifully rendered in watercolor, are as funny as they are charming. Young readers will delight in the pictures of the great-grandfather as he metamorphoses into various creatures. Bilovksy humorously addresses and lovingly explores the apprehension children may have when visiting their elderly relatives, with all the oddities that come with an aging body. Parents could point out the difference between the illustration on the front and back covers. On the front is the great-grandfather, ebullient and gap-toothed, while his great-grandson looks away, and on the back, the two share frosted cupcakes while the little boy looks adoringly at him.

Filled with tender, teachable moments, this one’s also sure to tickle the funny bone.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2015


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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