Bulldog Library

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.

Leave a comment »

The Ice Dragon

JF Martin    •    Fantasy

Ice DragonAdara is a winter child.  They say that when she was born, a winter chill entered her very soul leaving her cold and distant.  It is true that Adara is different from other children.  The cold does not bother her.  She loves the winter.  Her greatest joy is the Ice Dragon that visits her every year.

Then, one summer, Adara’s village is beset by an invading hoard of vicious dragons.  Adara’s family must flee from the only home they have ever known, but how will the Ice Dragon find Adara if she leaves her family’s farm?

The Ice Dragon is a diminutive book.  With only 106 pages, large print, and many illustrations, The Ice Dragon reads more like a short story or fairy tale than a novel.  This is a book for readers who love fantasy and want a book that can be read quickly.

Interest Level: grades 3-5  •  Lexile: 960L  •  AR: 5.4

Martin, G. R. R. (2006). The Ice Dragon.  New York, NY: Starscape.

Leave a comment »


JF Pennypacker    •    Humor

Jacket.aspxClementine is a creative, energetic young girl.  She loves to draw, she is allergic to sitting still, and despite having the best intentions she always seem to get into trouble.  She gets into a world of trouble when she ‘helps’ her best friend cut glue out of her hair and ends up cutting her long hair completely off.

This book is very similar in style to Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones, however Clementine has a charm all her own.  The book is perhaps a bit slower at the start than Judy Moody; however, readers who persevere will be rewarded with a delightful tale.  Like Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones, Clementine is likely to appeal to female readers; however, all readers who enjoy funny stories, and those who have previously enjoyed books like Alvin Ho are strongly encouraged to try Clementine!

Interest Level: grades 2-4  •  Lexile: 790L  •  AR: 4.5

2007 Sid Fleishman Humor Award

Pennypacker, S. (2006).  Clemintine.  (Marla Frazee and Kate Herrill, Illustrators).  New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

Leave a comment »

Legend of Spud Murphy

JF Colfer    •    AR Reading Level: 3.8    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #87214

JacketWill’s parents have decided to send him and his trouble-making older brother to the library to spend their summer break reading.  Will and his older brother beg there parents not to make them go to the library and face the mean librarian, Spud Muphy.  Every kid in town is terrified of Spud Murphy.  They say she shoots kids who break library rules with a gas-powered potato cannon!  Sadly, their pleading is for naught and they are forced spend their summer in the library.

At first the two boys endure their imprisonment in the tiny children’s section by pretending to read and desperately avoiding breaking any of Spud’s many rules, but eventually each boy starts to actually read.  They discover new worlds in the old books and end up reading every book in the small children’s section … twice.  Still terrified of Spud Murphy but desperate to get a new book to read, Will decides he must break Spud’s rules, leave the children’s section, and get a book out of the forbidden adult fiction section.

In the Legend of Spud Murphy, Eion Colfer has created memorable characters and a fun adventure.  Glen McCoy’s stylized black-and-white cartoon illustrations truly add to Eion Colfer character development and enhance the excitement and emotion of this adventure.  This is a clever, comical story that simply fun to read.  If you enjoy stories about evil librarians (and who doesn’t ??), than Eion Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy is an absolute must read!

Genre: Humor  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

Colfer, E. (2004). Legend of Spud Murphy. (Glen McCoy, Illustrator).  New York, NY: Miramax Books.

Leave a comment »

Franny K. Stein, mad scientist: the Invisible Fran

JF Benton    •    AR Reading Level: 5.2    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #81997


Franny K. Stein is a young girl with an interesting hobby.  Franny K. Stein is a mad scientist.  When her teacher, Miss Shelly, asks the class to give presentations on their hobbies, Franny decides to build a robot that will entice her classmates into becoming mad scientists as well.  To Franny’s dismay none of her classmates shows the slightest interest in taking up mad science, so Franny creates an invisibility potion and whispers suggestions to her classmates on how they can improve the robot.  With Franny’s unseen encouragement, the other children become wildly excited about mad science, but Franny’s plan backfires.  What will Franny do when her classmates efforts at mad science threaten to destroy the school?!

The Invisible Fran is the third in the Franny K. Stein series.  Just as with the first two books in the seires, this is a madcap adventure that features an array of wild creatures and odd inventions sure to please any reader.  The story is presented in short chapters that are augmented by black-and-white cartoon illustration on every page.  These illustrations can be large, taking up to three quarters of the page and serve to enhance the humor in the text.  This is a very enjoyable book and highly recommended to readers who enjoy funny books, such as Captain Underpants.

Genre: Science Fiction  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

Benton, J.(2004). Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist: the Invisible Fran.  New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Leave a comment »

Fat Camp Commandos

JF Pinkwater    •    AR Reading Level: 4.8    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #49781

Jacket.aspxRalph Nebula lives in Pokooksie, New York.  Pokooksie does not like fat people.  Once a year they have an Anti-Fat Day where the thin people ridicule and insult fat people for there own good.  This year they had a famous health guru come and lecture on the dangers of being fat.  This famous health guru suggests that parents send their fat children to fat camp.  Consequently, Ralph’s parents (who are fat themselves) decide to send Ralph and his sister Sylvia to Camp Noo Yoo.  Camp Noo Yoo is an awful place.  They treat the kids horribly and feed them little more than carrots and raisins.  Thankfully, while at Camp Noo Yoo, Ralph and Sylvia meet Mavis.  Mavis has a plan to sneak out of camp, and she wants to break Ralph and Sylvia out of Camp Noo Yoo too!  Will this trio be able to escape fat camp?  What will they do all summer if they make it back to Pokooksie?

Despite facing overwhelming criticism, the children in Fat Camp Commandos are happy with who they are.  Rather than allowing the constant ridicule to create a damaged self-image, they fight back and find others who will accept them as they are.  This book provides a wonderful lesson for readers: not to allow mean people to determine who you are.  (It also introduces readers to the delightful songs of Gilbert and Sullivan!)  It is humorously written with very short chapters and large font with cartoon illustrations sprinkled throughout.  It is entertaining and enjoyable to read.

Genre: Humor  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

Pinkwater, D. (2001).  Fat Camp Commandos.  (Andy Rash, illustrated).  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Leave a comment »

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

JF Look    •    AR Reading Level: 3.8    •    AR Points: 3.0    •    Quiz #123779

Jacket.aspxAlvin Ho is the story of the adventures of Alvin Ho a young boy of Chinese decent who is afraid of almost everything.  He loves superheroes, reading, and playing catch with his grandfather, Gunggung. Alvin Ho is about to start first grade, but he has a big problem:  he is allergic to school.  He is so allergic to school that he can’t talk in school at all.  He can talk at home and even on the school bus, but not at school.  It is hard to make friends when you can’t even say hello to them.  What will Alvin do?  Will he ever find a friend?

Alvin Ho is the story of a shy and awkward young boy.  He explains his life from his point of view in much the same way as Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones do.  It is humorous, but most of all, it is a story that relatable for readers who may also be struggling to find their social place in school and make friends.  It teaches good values like: being popular is not always worth the price (thankfully Alvin got a refund), and that you don’t need to make friends by changing who you are (you just need to find a friend who like you for you).  This is an excellent book and well worth reading!

Genre: Humor  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

2012 California Young Reader Award

Look, L. (2008).  Alvin Ho: allergic to girls, school, and other scary things.  (LeUyen Pham, Illustrator).  New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade.

Leave a comment »

Rotten School: The Great Smelling Bee

JF Stine    •    AR Reading Level: 2.8    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #88861


Bernie Bridges lives at Rotten School.  He and his friends love nothing better than a good prank.  Too bad their dorm mother, Mrs. Heinie, and headmaster, Mr. Upchuck, don’t have the same great sense of humor, or any discernable sense of humor at all!  Mrs. Heinie and Mr. Upchuck just want to enforce the school rules.

One morning, a large package arrives for Bernie.  His parents have sent him a parrot named Lippie who says all kinds of really cool rude things, and a bulldog named Gassy whose sole talent is to produce a horribly noxious odor (that means he farts really stinky farts!) Bernie is thrilled!  The only problem is that pets aren’t allowed at Rotten School.  If Mr. Upchuck finds out about Lippie and Gassie, Bernie will be expelled!  How in the world is Bernie going to hid Lippie and Gassie from the prying eyes of Mrs. Heinie?

When readers think of R.L. Stine, they likely think of scary books, like Goosebumps.  However The Great Smelling Bee, the second book in R.L. Stine’s Rotten School series, is not at all scary.  It’s gross.  Really, really GROSS!  This book is filled with fart jokes and toilet humor.  Readers who think that passing gas is the highest form of comedy will be rolling on the floor laughing at the humor in this book!

The gross-out story is accompanied by over-the-top caricatures.  These illustrations include globs of  gooey parrot poop and noxious clouds of toxic dog farts.  They are as off-beat as the story and provide a perfect complement to the text of the book.

Genre: Comedy  •  Interest Level: grades 4-5

Stine, R. L. (2005). Rotten School: the great smelling bee. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Leave a comment »

Dragon Slayers’ Academy: The New Kid at School

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


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.

Leave a comment »