Bulldog Library

Billy’s Booger

JE Joyce    •    Memoir & Humor

billys-booger

Billy is unique.  He is immensely creative, but his creativity is often unappreciated.  When the school librarian announces a creative writing contest, Billy knows that this is his time to shine.  He works tirelessly on his mucus-y masterpiece, but can his humorous tale win the creative writing contest?

Billy’s Booger is the memoir of author William Joyce.  It is filled with humor that any kid will enjoy, but it is also an inspirational tale of a kid who followed his dream, dared to be himself, and found his passion in life.

This wonderful story is brought to life with illustrations that are worth lingering over.

Interest Level: grades 1-5  •  Lexile: AD750L  •  AR: 3.5

Joyce, W. (2015). Billy’s Booger: a memoir (sorta). New York, NY : Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

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Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble

JF Bruel    •    Humor/How-to

bad kitty drawn to trouble

Have you ever wanted to write a book?  If so, Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble is a book you will want to read!

In Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble, Nick Bruel uses his trademark humor to help young authors create stories of their own.  There are two really great reasons to read this book.  First, it introduces readers to elements of writing like characters, plot, setting and more.  Second, this writing guide is presented in an awesome Bad Kitty story!  Why read a how-to-write textbook that gives exhaustive-but-dry definitions of the elements of a story, when you could read Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble that introduces all of the major elements of a story through explanation and example?  It is a wonderful bonus that the examples are expertly woven into a hilarious power struggle between Nick Bruel (the author) and Bad Kitty (the strong-willed star) to determine Bad Kitty’s fate.  Who will win?  Will Bad Kitty bully Bruel into giving her a big bowl of kitty food?  Or Nick Bruel doom Bad Kitty to a diet of turnips?

This laugh-out-loud-funny book is a must read for both aspiring young writers and Bad Kitty fans alike!

Interest Level: grades 3-5  •  Lexile: 570L   •  AR: 3.5

Bruel, N. (2014). Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble.  New York, NY: Roaring Press Books.

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Ninja Red Riding Hood

JE Schwartz    •    Fairytale/Humor

Ninja Red Riding Hood

The big bad wolf is hungry.  He can’t catch any dinner because his prey knows Karate.  So the big bad wolf decides to become a ninja master.

You know a book is going to be good when it begins “Once upon a ninja-filled time”!  Ninja Red Riding Hood does not disappoint.  It is a wonderful, ninja-filled twist to the time-worn tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  If you love ninjas, or twisted fairytales, like Cinderella SkeletonThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs, or The Frog Prince Continued, than you are sure to enjoy this off-beat and cleaver retelling.

Interest Level: Grades 2-5  •  Lexile: AD570L  •  AR: 3.4

Schwartz, C. R. (2014). Ninja Red Riding Hood. New York , NY: Putnam Juvenile.

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Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

398.2 Deedy    •    Folktale

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When the time comes for the beautiful Martina to find a husband her grandmother gives her some wise advice.  Her grandmother tells her that she must spill coffee on each of her suitors in order to determine their true character.  Martina is hesitant, but she obeys.  Her first three suitors all quickly show there true colors when she spills the coffee on them.   Martina is glad to be rid of them.  Her grandmother then introduces her to a fourth suitor, a shy mouse.  Martina likes him right away, but her grandmother insists that she pour coffee on him too.  Will she drive this new suitor away too?

The illustrations in this picture book are  stunning.  The artist has used dramatic color schemes and unusual perspective to create uniquely beautiful compositions.  These images provide the backdrop for the retelling of this traditional Cuban folktale about wisdom, family, and love.  Readers will enjoy the unexpected twists, beautiful pictures and rhymes in this award winning picture book.  This is a book that just begs to be read aloud!

Interest Level: grades K-4  •  Lexile: AD720L  •  AR: 3.1

2011 California Young Reader Medal

Deedy, C. A. (2007)  Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale.  (Michael Austin, Illustrator).  Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.

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Big Nate in a class by himself

JF Peirce    •    AR Reading Level: 3.1    •    AR Points: 2.0    •    Quiz #137291

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Nate Write is in the sixth grade.  He believes he is destined for greatness.  When he gets a fortune cookie that says he will “…surpass all others…” he believes it to be fate.  He is determined to make his fortune come true.  He is determined to make today the day that he “surpasses all others”.  But what can he do better than anyone else?  For Nate, each class is a new opportunity to find his fate.  To bad his teachers don’t see it quite the same way…

Nate Write is narcissistic and delusional.  He believes himself to be destined for greatness based on nothing except his unwavering belief that he is better than other people.  He acts as if he is entitled to fame and fortune, like he expects to attain fame and fortune without hard work.  Meanwhile he ridicules students who actually try hard in school and are rewarded with academic success.  Worse yet, he bullies his friends and hits them with books.  Nate Write is not a sympathetic character.  However, he is hilarious.  Even if you do not much like Nate, you will somehow route for him to find his greatness, and you will laugh out loud every time he fails.

Nate’s story is told in a graphic hybrid format.  It is told through a very successful fusion of text and comic-book style cartoons.  Big Nate is very reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is also told in the graphic hybrid format.  If you have enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid, than you will very likely also enjoy Big Nate.  It is an excellent choice for readers who love graphic novels, or for those looking for a genuinely funny book.

Genre: Humor  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

Peirce, L. (2010). Big Nate: in a class by himself. New York, NY: Harper.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

J 822.33 Sha   •   AR Reading Level: 3.2   •   AR Points: 0.5   •   Quiz #145337

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Lysander loves Hermia, and Hermia  loves Lysander.

Helena loves Demetrius.

All would be well except that Demetrius’ love for Helena has faded, and he now loves Hermia.  To escape an arranged marriage to Demetrius, Hermia elopes with Lysander.  They escape Athens and flee to the forrest, but Demetrius and Helena follow them.

In the forest, these Athenian youths cross the path of Oberon, the fairy King, and his faithful jester, Puck. These two fairies try to use magic to fix the tangled course of this love quadrangle, but end up making it worse when they cause Lysander to fall in love with Helena!

Meanwhile, in another part of the forrest . . . just for fun . . . Puck gives Bottom the Weaver the head of a donkey.  Oberon causes his wife, Titania, to fall in love with the donkey headed Bottom.

In the course of this midsummer’s night, love comes and love goes.  Fairies play, and magic abounds.

The lively illustrations in this graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s beloved play wonderfully capture original fantasy and magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  While the modernized language used in this adaptation lacks the grace and poetry of the original language, the use of modernized language provides an easily understood version of this classic play that is far more accessible for tween readers than the original play.  In short, this graphic novel provides an excellent introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream for tween readers.  However, it is no substitute for the original (which readers are highly encouraged to read someday – or better yet see performed!).

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

Yomtov, N. (2012).  A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. (Bernice Muniz, Illustrator). Mankato,  MN: Stone Arch Books.

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Rapunzel’s Revenge

YA F Hale    •    AR Reading Level: 3.2    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #122757

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Rapunzel grew up in her mother Gothel’s villa.  She mostly spent her days playing alone in Gothel’s magic garden, but occasionally, one of Gothel’s guards would teacher her how to do rope tricks.  In Gothel’s garden, there was a wall. Curious about what lay beyond the wall, Rapunzel used her rope to scale the wall against Gothel’s wishes.  On the other side of the wall, Rapunzel discovers a forced labor camp and learns that Gothel is not her real mother.  When she was young, Gothel kidnapped her and imprisoned her mother in the forced labor camp.

Enraged at Rapunzel’s impudence, Gothel locks Rapunzel in an enchanted tree.  It is four years before Rapunzel is able to escape her prison.  Now Rapunzel is on a mission to rescue her real mother.  Her only aids on this quest are her enchanted braids and a thief named Jack she meets on her journey.

Rapunzel’s Revenge is a beautifully drawn graphic novel (comic book) with a very exciting, modern retake on the two traditional fairy tales: Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk.  Told in a fairy tale version of the Wild West, this unique story sets witches, giants, and jackalopes along side cowboys, ranchers, outlaws, and gunslingers.

The illustrations that bring this story to life are skillfully rendered.  These illustrations combine a masterful use of line, interesting perspectives, and lovely color palettes that add immensely to the story.  The compositions in the panels that depict Rapunzel’s battle with the giant sea serpent are especially remarkable in their use of line to create movement and drama.

This graphic novel is highly recommended to readers who enjoy fantasy adventures, and to those who love the visual arts, especially drawing and painting.

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 6-8

2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Hale, S. & Hale, D. (2008). Rapunzel’s Revenge. (N. Hale Illus.). New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

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Dragon Slayers’ Academy: The New Kid at School

JF McMullan    •    AR Reading Level: 3.3    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #36459

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Wiglaf is the third oldest child in his family of fifteen.  All of his brothers are big and strong.  Wiglaf is scrawny and to tenderhearted to kill a cockroaches, but a fortuneteller has predicted that he will someday be a hero.  When Wiglaf sees a poster advertising the Dragon Slayers’ Academy, he knows that that is where he has to be to become a hero.  So he sets off for the Academy at once.

On his very first day at his new school, a legendary dragon moves into a cave not far from the school.  The dragon has stolen the villagers gold and is now demanding two children for breakfast.  With the upperclassmen away on a fieldtrip, two beginning dragon slayers must fight this fearsome foe!  Against his will, Wiglaf is told to go slay the dragon.  His only hope is to find the creature’s secret weakness.

Dragon Slayers’ Academy is a riff on the fantasy genre.  It uses familiar elements of this genre, including dragons, wizards, enchanted swords, and talking animals, but it incorporates all of these elements in a humorously corny way. This is a corny, screwball book.  (The corniness of this book cannot be over emphasized!)  However, despite its banality, it is a fun book to read. The story is silly.  The characters are caricatures.  If you like really bad knock-knock jokes than this is the book for you.  This book is not recommended for all readers, just for those who don’t mind a silly book that serves no purpose other than to give a few chuckles.

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 4-5

McMullan, K. H. (2003). Dragon Slayers’ Academy: the new kid at school. New York, NY : Grosset & Dunlap.

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