Category Archives: funny

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done book trailer

He doesn’t like to pull rank. To reveal that he’s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, probably the country, perhaps the world.

But he is. And he’s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. And win the $500 prize, which will set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to cheat. Bamboozle. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it’s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice. And obliterate Timmy’s arch-nemesis, the WEDGIE, aka the Worldwide Enemy of Da Goodness In Everything.

If he can only get his entry form in on time.

The second book in the hilarious Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis, Now Look What You’ve Done, is out now from Walker Books.  Look out next week for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies, thanks to Walker Books Australia.

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Fur-ightfully Funny Adventures from Beyond the Grave

When Joe Edmunds makes a wish on an Egyptian amulet, little does he know that he has volunteered to guide and defend the undead pet inhabitants of his town…

If you know a young reader who likes adventure stories that are a bit spooky and really funny, then I’ve got a new series for you!  Undead Pets by Sam Hay is an awesome new series for 7+ featuring zombie animals and ‘pets with one last thing to do before they pass to the other side.’  As well as a great story (that boys especially will love) the books are illustrated throughout by Simon Cooper.  I especially like the cartoons that describe how each of the pets die.  I reckon the covers are terrific and are sure to jump off the shelves.  Young readers will get hooked on Undead Pets and they’ll gobble them up in no time.  They’re stand alone adventures so kids can start with any of the books.

Read all about the different books in the series below and watch the cool book trailer.

Return of the Hungry Hamster

Dumpling the hamster came to a dusty end inside a vacuum cleaner … but he suspects that his owner Oliver’s parents never admitted to their son that they were to blame for Dumpling’s demise. Now the hamster needs Joe’s help to reveal the truth – but there’s a furry surprise awaiting them at Oliver’s house…

Revenge of the Phantom Furball

Disaster strikes when Bonsai the pug chases Pickle the cat into the street, where she is flattened by a car. But the fact that Pickle has (almost) shuffled off her mortal coil isn’t her biggest concern; she is worried that Bonsai will pursue her sister Pebble into an early grave too, unless she and Joe teach the dog a lesson…

Night of the Howling Hound

Joe is off on a school trip to an adventure camp, and he can’t wait to put Uncle Charlie’s survival tips into practice! But it’s not long before he’s visited by Dexter, a scruffy-looking dog, with a howling tale of woe. Dexter doesn’t want his owner feeling guilty for his death, but it’ll be hard for Joe to intervene this time – it turns out that the owner is Joe’s headmaster, the dreaded Mr Hill!

Goldfish from Beyond the Grave

Just when Joe thought things couldn’t get any stranger, he is visited by Fizz, a zombie goldfish. Fizz was flushed down the toilet by his owner Danny’s little sister, who doesn’t realize that she’s sent the fish to a watery grave. Fizz needs to ensure the truth is revealed before his fellow fish meet a similar fate. But how do you get a goldfish to rest in peace?

Rise of the Zombie Rabbit

Fluffy’s owner, Olivia, lost a necklace in her back garden and she’s going to get in big trouble if it isn’t found. Fluffy can’t bear to see her owner in distress and she demands that Joe finds the necklace – now! Can Joe do what Fluffy wants or will the undead pet be hopping around forever?

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Guest Post: Justin Brown on Shot, Boom, Score!

Justin Brown is a New Zealand author whose first children’s book, Shot, Boom, Score! has just been published by Allen and Unwin.  Shot, Boom, Score! is a hilarious story about a boy who is promised a Gamebox V3 by his dad if he scores 20 wickets in cricket and 10 tries in rugby, but is foiled at every turn by the class bully.  Justin has written a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books about writing and how Shot, Boom, Score! came to be.

‘If you dedicate your next book to me I’ll give you $1.20.’

This opportunity, offered to me by a boy named Kit at a school talk in Nelson, sums up why I write for kids. They have no fear and no filters. Their heads aren’t clogged with mortgages, work woes or what to cook for dinner. Okay, so they’re not allowed ice cream for dinner, or to stay up past ‘X-Factor,’ but nothing tops climbing trees, licking the bowl or having a fist fight with your best mate.

For the past ten years I’d focused on writing non-fiction travel (‘UK on a G-String,’ ‘Bowling Through India’) as well as humour (‘Kiwi Speak,’ ‘Rugby Speak’). In truth, I wanted to write middle-grade fiction, like my hero Roald Dahl. But first I had to meet someone who knew what they were doing. That someone was Joy Cowley, who I accosted one day at the Story Lines festival in Auckland. A few days later – when she’d read my stories – she agreed to be my ‘Yoda.’ We worked together on many titles for McGraw Hill and Clean Slate Press. She is a very generous and smart lady.

Then one day I had the idea for ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’. It came while on the sideline at my daughters’ soccer match. Like many Kiwi kids, sport played a major role in my childhood. As did rewards for doing well. Many a parent has bribed their kids with a ‘pie for a try’ or ‘movie tickets for a wicket.’ With Toby in ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ I wanted to take this theme to a new level. Here is a boy who struggles with school, but excels at sport. When his father sets him the GameBox V3 Challenge Toby thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Sadly, he hasn’t accounted for class bully Malcolm McGarvy – who does his best to ruin the party.

Kids can be ruthless critics. If something stinks they’ll let you know. So it was with a certain amount of relief when my nine-year-old daughter Sophie (who was having ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ read to her class) came home and said, ‘Dad, even the bullies love this story – and they never share their feelings!’ Here’s hoping many other kids enjoy the book.

PS. I did end up dedicating a novel to Kit, but as of yet haven’t seen any money.

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The Trouble with Mummies by F.R. Hitchcock

Hot Key Books are a UK based publisher who publish ‘stand out, quality fiction’ for 9-19 year olds.  Every time I go and check out their website to see what they’ve got coming up I add most of their books to my TBR pile.  They have introduced me to some wonderful new authors and some really original stories, including the marvelous Fleur Hitchcock.  Last year I loved her debut book, Shrunk, so when I heard she had a new book coming out I had to grab it.   The Trouble with Mummies is her latest book and it’s sure to have kids roaring with laughter.

Sam comes home one day to find his family turning strange – his mum is redecorating using hieroglyphics and his dad is building a pyramid in the back garden. He hopes it’s just a weird new fashion… but then the strangeness starts to spread. With the help of his friends Ursula, Henry and Lucy the Goat, Sam must save his town from rampaging Roman rugby players, hairdressers turned cavewomen, and a teacher who used to be a ‘basket of kittens’ but now wants to sacrifice the Year Ones to the Aztec sun god. As history invades Sam’s world, will he be able to keep the Greeks away from the Egyptians and discover the cause of the Mummy madness?

The Trouble with Mummies is a crazy adventure, where history comes alive and the kids have to solve the mystery before it’s too late.  When Sam’s parents start acting weirdly he gets the feeling something strange is going on.  Then his teacher dresses up in a wetsuit covered in feathers, and his PE teacher lines his class up in ranks and throws a javelin at them, so Sam knows that things aren’t right.  The people in his town get weirder and weirder and it’s up to Sam and his friends to figure out what is causing them to act so strangely.  Is it something they ate or drunk or have they all just lost their minds?

Fleur brings her love of history into the story with the different ancient peoples.  Sam’s parents become Egyptians, painting the house with hieroglyphics and building a pyramid, Miss Primrose becomes an Aztec and plans to sacrifice Sam’s friend Henry, and Ursula’s parents become Trojans.  It’s the perfect book for those kids who are really interested in history and ancient civilizations in particular.  If you know a Horrible Histories fan, you need to get them this book.  If your kids don’t already love history, then this book might just get them hooked.  You’ll certainly never look at your museum the same way again!

The thing I love the most about Fleur’s books is that they are unique stories full of imagination that are aimed at younger readers.  Forget Zac Power and Beast Quest, get your boys reading Shrunk and The Trouble with Mummies and they’ll be hooked on books.  Both of Fleur’s books also make great read alouds and they’re bound to have both you and your children laughing out loud.

What better way to hook readers in than show them the Hot Key Books ‘What’s in it?’ book key – Cavemen, Pyramids, Romans and Beards.  Who wouldn’t want to read a book with all that in it?

Check out this video of Fleur Hitchcock reading the first chapter of The Trouble with Mummies:

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Once Upon a Slime by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Is this the right book for you?

Take the SLIME TEST and find out.

- Have you ever wondered where ideas come from and how stories are made?

- Would you like to know the true stories behind some of Andy and Terry’s books and characters?

- Would you like to discover 45 great ways to have fun with words and pictures?

SCORE: If you answered YES to any of these questions, then this is definitely the right book for you! If you answered NO to all of these questions then you are an IDIOT and this is DEFINITELY the right book for you!

Once Upon a Slime is a must-have book for young writers and fans of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. The book is crammed full of ideas from Andy and Terry’s books to get you writing and have fun while doing it. There are heaps of examples of the crazy, stupid and disgusting stories from Andy and Terry’s books, along with 45 writing and storytelling activities.  They give you ideas for writing lists, instructions, cartoons, letters, personal stories, poems and pocket books.  You can have a go at:

  • Designing your own crazy machine
  • Draw something exploding
  • Make an ‘I hate’ list
  • Write a list of scary things
  • Make the unbelievable believable
  • Write your own time wasting cartoon

The book is aimed at kids so it’s easy to read and great to dip in and out of.  It’s also a great resource for teachers as there are heaps of great writing ideas that are quick and fun ways to get kid’s imaginations flowing.

I tried using some of the activities on the Christchurch Kids Blog last week as a school holiday activity and got some really cool writing from the kids.  Check out their Andy Griffiths Writing Challenge samples and why not try them yourself.

Grab a copy of Once Upon a Slime from your library or bookshop now and let your imagination run wild!

Here’s a video of Andy Griffiths talking about the book and trying some of his own writing activities:

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Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

I’m a picky graphic novel reader.  Like picture books, it’s the illustrations that catch my eye and then I’ll see what the story is about.  There are a couple of graphic novel creators whose books I’ll grab whenever they’ve got something new coming out.  The first is Garen Ewing, the creator of the Rainbow Orchid graphic novel, because he’s got a style of illustration and story that is similar to Herge’s Tintin.  The second is Doug TenNapel, because his cartoony style really appeals to me and his stories are imaginative and funny.  Doug’s latest graphic novel, Cardboard, is about a down-on-his-luck dad, his son, and the magic cardboard that changes their life.

Cam’s down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it’s the worst present ever. To make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man– and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood jerk, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!

Cardboard is a fantastic story, filled with imagination, adventure, humour, and cardboard creations of all sorts.  One of the reasons I love Doug’s work is because he creates such original stories and Cardboard is no exception.  He’s taken the idea of a father building something out of cardboard with his son and thought ‘what if?’  My dad used to make awesome cardboard creations with me and my siblings when I was younger (the best being a full Batman mask) so I can totally imagine what it would have been like to have had magic cardboard.  I think that’s why this story works so well, because every kid (or adult) can imagine it happening.

The thing that really draws me to Doug’s graphic novels are his illustrations, which are fantastic.  Doug’s style is quite cartoony and reminds me of some of my favourite cartoons that I watched as a kid.  His characters have very expressive faces, particularly their eyes. Doug’s imagination has run wild and he’s created some weird and wonderful cardboard creations, some of which go out of control.  Der-Shing Helmer has done a wonderful job of the colouring, making the illustrations vibrant and bold.  I especially love the front cover.  It really jumps out at you and makes you want to read the book so you can find out who the giant eyes belong to.

Cardboard and Doug’s other graphic novels, Ghostopolis and Bad Island are perfect for ages 9+, especially boys, who want a great story.  They are ideal for those kids who have moved on from Asterix and Tintin or for reluctant readers.

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Derek Landy on Tanith Low and the Maleficent Seven

To celebrate the release of his new book, The Maleficent Seven, Derek Landy went down to a crypt under Dublin and answered some questions about Tanith and her part in the Skulduggery Pleasant series.  The 3 parts of the interview are below for your viewing pleasure.

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The Maleficent Seven by Derek Landy

One of the things I love the most about Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series is the cast of brilliantly named characters.  The series focuses on Skulduggery and Valkyrie as they fight to save the world from the forces of evil, but I’ve often wished that I could see more of particular characters.  I can imagine them getting in to all sorts of trouble when Skulduggery isn’t around.  I’m obviously not the only one who wished for this, as Derek has written a stand-alone book that focuses specifically on Tanith Low, once a hero but now a villain with a Remnant inside her.  Tanith and her gang of evil-doers go up against a group of rogue Sanctuary agents in Derek’s latest book, The Maleficent Seven.

This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she’s got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…

There is no Skulduggery or Valkyrie in sight in The Maleficent Seven but I loved it and it’s got everything that makes the Skulduggery books so great.  Some of my favourite minor characters in the series are major players in this book, especially Tanith and Billy-Ray Sanguine. Tanith and Billy-Ray have an unusual relationship – you don’t expect villains to use the word ‘love’ and be cutesy with each other.  There are other characters who have also popped up in the other books in the series that you find out more about too, and not all of them make it to the end of the story (which is pretty normal for a Derek Landy book).  I like that this book focuses mostly on the villains, rather than the heroes.  You don’t often get to see things from their perspective so it makes a nice change.  The major villain is, of course, Tanith Low, who we haven’t seen much of in the last few books, and the whole story centers around her.  As well as the main story of tracking down the God-Killer level weapons, Derek gives us a glimpse of Tanith’s origins.  You see her as pre-Sanctuary Tanith as well as Remnant-host Tanith.

The main reason I love Derek’s writing is because of his wicked sense of humour.  The dialogue is great and his characters have some very entertaining conversations.  There are some hilarious lines in this book and I just have to share a couple.

‘There are plenty of things I’d insult before getting to your intelligence, Johann.  Your beard for one.  It looks like the beards of Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless mated, and their bizarre offspring crawled on to your face and died on your chin.’

‘”You zapped your own brain?”

“And it didn’t do me any harm apart from the dizziness and the vomiting spells and the weirdly persistent ringing in my ears.  Also the blackouts and the mood swings and the creeping paranoia.  Apart from that, zero side effects, if you don’t count numb fingertips.  Which I don’t.”‘

If you’re a fan of the Skulduggery Pleasant series I’m sure you’ll love The Maleficent Seven as much as I did.   You don’t have to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy this one, so it would be a great book to hook kids in to the series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: Cheese Belongs To You! by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz

I love picture books that start with a simple idea, then build up and build up into a ridiculous situation.  One of my favourite examples of this is Oliver Jeffers’ fantastic picture book, Stuck.  Floyd’s kite gets stuck in the tree and more and more things get thrown up to try and knock the kite down.  Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz’ new book Cheese Belongs To Me! is another book like this, that builds on one simple rat law: cheese belongs to you.

Rat law is simple: if you take a piece of cheese, it belongs to you. So if a bigger rat takes it … then cheese belongs to them. Unless … a quicker rat swipes it! Every rat knows rat law; if you are big or quick, strong or scary, hairy or dirty, or, indeed, all of the above. But just who gets to EAT the cheese?

Cheese Belongs To You is a hilarious picture book about one piece of cheese and the rules that decide which rat it belongs to.  The more complicated the situation becomes, the faster you want to read.  The only problem is that you start to trip over your tongue so you have to slow down (try saying ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rats’ quickly 3 times).  I love the inventive ways that Alexis has come up with to describe the different rats, so that each one is better than the last.  You find yourself anticipating what might be next and I’m sure kids will too.  There could be lots of discussion about what sort of rat could come next.  Viviane’s illustrations are superb as always and I think her style of illustration is perfect for this story.  Her rats all have different personalities, and even on a page filled with them all the rats look different.  I especially love the ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rat,’ with his hook-hand, peg-leg and pet cockroach.  I think a great way to introduce the story would be to cover up the text and see if the children can guess why each rat is better than the last.  I also love the way that Viviane has incorporated the cheese into every page, including the cheesy end papers.

After the situation turns into utter chaos the story reaches a satisfying conclusion that keeps everyone happy.  Grab a copy of Cheese Belongs To You! and share it with the children in your life.  I’ll certainly be reading this to every class, from Year 1 to Year 8 on my next library visits.

5 out of 5 stars

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Win Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the first book in the hilarious new series by Stephan Pastis.  It’s perfect for those kids who love a good laugh, especially fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  You can read my review here on the blog and check out the very funny book trailers.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Walker Books Australia I have 3 copies of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made to give away. They’re nice hardback books that will survive being handed around lots of kids.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Wednesday 27 March (Australia and New Zealand only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Ash, Lynley and Chris.

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