Category Archives: humour

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis

Clueless detective Timmy Failure is back on the case in his latest book, Now Look What You’ve Done.

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, perhaps the nation. But he is. And he s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. It s his ticket to bringing home a $500 prize, which is guaranteed to set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to game the system. 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. If he can only get his entry form in on time.

If you’re looking for a book full of ‘greatness,’ ‘shenanigans,’ quirky characters and antics that will make you laugh out loud, then Now Look What You’ve Done is the book for you.  Timmy’s latest shenanigans have everything I loved about the first book, but even sillier.  There’s more Molly Moskins, more Total (Timmy’s 1500 pound polar bear partner), more Corrina Corrina (aka The Wedgie or The Weevil Bun), but there are also hilarious new characters, like Timmy’s Great-Aunt Colander (inventor of the Boom-Boom Shoe Wheel).  Stephan’s cartoons are hilarious and add extra humour to the text.  I love the way that they capture Timmy’s somewhat strange outlook on the world.

The thing I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the language that Timmy uses.  He sounds like a hard-boiled detective, even when he’s talking to his mum.  Kids who read these books will certainly increase their vocabulary.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.  It has been kid-tested and passed with flying colours.  I read both of the Timmy Failure books to my 10 year old boys and they absolutely love them.  I often hear them quoting things from the books.

Grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

 

 

 

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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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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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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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The Book of Doom by Barry Hutchison

If you’re a long-time reader of my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Barry Hutchison, from his creepy Invisible Fiends series to his short stories and his Afterworlds series. The first book in the Afterworlds series has just won the Older Readers category in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards (which is voted for by children so it’s a wonderful award to receive).  He’s one of those incredibly talented authors who can creep you out one moment and have you laughing out loud the next.  Barry’s latest book, The Book of Doom, is packed with those laugh-out-loud moments, and plenty of cringe-worthy ones too.  The thing that makes the book even more awesome for me is that the main character is named after me (I can’t tell you how excited I am about this!).  When you read your name on the page it’s even easier to imagine yourself in that character’s shoes and go on the adventure that they do.

Heaven has lost the most important object in existence and getting it back is gonna be Hell … The second hilarious book in Barry’s AFTERWORLDS sequence – comic fantasy perfect for fans of Pratchett and Douglas Adams. There’s panic up in Heaven. They have mislaid the BOOK OF DOOM – the most important object in existence. Oopsy. They think Satan might have stolen it, the sneaky little devil, so to save the world – plus, you know, quite a lot of embarrassment, fifteen year old Adam and his angelic guide Angelo are sent to retrieve it. Sadly directions aren’t Angelo’s strong point and they soon find themselves just as lost as the book, wandering through Afterworlds such as Valhalla and Hades and encountering some colourful characters along the way… Can the hapless pair make it to Hell and back?

The Book of Doom is absolutely fantastic and it’s the funniest book I’ve read for older readers since Barry’s The 13th Horseman. There’s something in this book for everyone, including an assassin monk, archangels involved in dodgy dealings, a boy who’s half-human/half angel, a demon with a statue made from the skin of his enemy’s children, singing and dancing Vikings, and a demon wearing roller skates and hot pants.  There are also four familiar gentlemen who pop up at one part (I really can’t get enough of these guys and I hope we see them again).  There are plenty of pop culture references in the story that you’ll be able to spot too, from super heroes to Star Wars.  I loved how disappointed Angelo would get when someone didn’t get his reference to a comic or a movie.

Barry’s characters are wonderful as always.  Zac is very cool and I’m honoured to be his namesake.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a thief who gets sent to Hell to retrieve a very important book.  He’s not fazed by much, even when faced with a demon who has eyes for nipples.  Angelo is one of Barry’s funniest characters and he gets all the best lines.  I cracked up laughing when he says ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’  He’s awkward, and a little bit clueless, but quite lovable too.

The banter between Barry’s characters was the highlight of Book of Doom for me.  The banter between Angelo and Zac made me laugh out loud so many times and my favourite part is when they finally reach the gates of Hell.  It’s the sort of book that you really want to read aloud because it would be even funnier to hear someone reading it.

The last few chapters of the book are especially hilarious and I loved the twist (which totally made sense when I looked back on the story).  The Book of Doom will keep you laughing long after you’ve turned the last page.

5 out of 5 stars

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Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Meet Timmy Failure.  He’s the founder, president, and CEO of the detective agency he had named after himself: Total Failure Inc., ‘the best detective agency in town, probably the state. Perhaps the nation.’ His business partner (and idiot best friend) is a 1500 pound polar bear, named Total, who is often not very helpful, and gets paid in chicken nuggets. There is no case too big or two small for Total Failure Inc., whether it’s solving the mystery of the missing Halloween candy or discovering who stole his mother’s Segway.  Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the first book in the hilarious new series by Stephan Pastis.

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure – the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile – Timmy s mom s Segway – and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into “Stanfurd” that he can t carry out a no-brain spy mission.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the funniest book for kids that I’ve read in a long time.  The text by itself is funny, but add in Stephan’s cartoons and you get a book that has you laughing out loud.  The funniest parts of the book are when Timmy is explaining something and then he draws a picture to show you what happened.  There is a part when Timmy visits Molly Moskins’ house and he meets Molly’s cat, Senor Burrito, that made me laugh so hard (you’ll have to read the book to find out why).  Stephan’s illustrations of Total made me laugh every time too, because you wondered what he was going to get up to next or what Timmy would make him do. Reading this book is like watching a comedian with the best comedic timing.  It’s the combination of the text and the cartoons that will appeal to children, especially fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  I think Timmy Failure would even be great for those younger children (7-9 year olds) who might not be quite ready for Wimpy Kid yet.

One thing I loved about this book was the weird and wacky cast of characters.  First of all you’ve got Timmy, who is the one who is supposed to be looking for clues, but he’s completely clueless himself.  Readers will pick up the clues and solve the mystery way almost straight away, whereas Timmy has a completely different theory and tries to nab someone else for the crime.  He speaks like a detective and is always trying to convince his mother that his detective agency needs to upgrade their offices or get an administrative assistant to handle the paperwork.  Jimmy’s best friend, Total, doesn’t talk (because he’s a polar bear), but he provides some of the funniest moments of the story through his antics.  Molly Moskins is the weird girl that has a crush on Timmy who has mismatched pupils and a tendancy to use words that do not exist (like ‘wondermarvelously splendiferous’).  Then there is the ‘Evil One,’ Timmy’s nemesis and fellow detective, Corrina Corrina.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is only the first book in Stephan Pastis’ new series and I hope there will be many more to come.  I guarantee that your children will laugh out loud at least once while reading this book (I certainly did and got some weird looks for doing so).  I recommend it for anyone 7+ who likes a good laugh and quirky characters.

5 out of 5 stars

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Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

Ever since I’d read that Melissa Keil would be the first author to be published as part of The Ampersand Project I was curious to read it.  The goal of the project is to help debut YA authors get published.  Life in Outer Space sounded wonderful and exactly my sort of book.  I was lucky enough to get to read it back in December and I fell in love with it from the first line.  I loved it so much that I’ve read it twice, and I loved it even more the second time around.

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, worry about girls he won’t. Then Camilla Carter arrives on the scene. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his plan. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a plan of her own – and he seems to be a part of it! Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies. But perhaps he’s been watching the wrong ones.

 

I love absolutely everything about Life in Outer Space! It’s full of cool characters that you want to be friends with, great dialogue, pop culture references galore, and hilarious moments that will have you laughing out loud.  Reading Life In Outer Space made me feel like I was at a comic book convention or a book conference, because I felt totally surrounded by people who were just like me.

Melissa’s characters feel totally real and you can imagine seeing them walking down the street or waiting outside the cinema to catch a movie.  Sam’s voice is so authentic that I’m sure Melissa has a teenage boy trapped inside her.  Sam is an incredibly likeable character, from his extensive knowledge of movies and his ability to relate them to real life, to his loyalty to his friends. He’s got a great sense of humour, but he’s also quite awkward.  He says that ‘everything useful I do know about real life I know from movies,’ and I love the way that he proves this frequently throughout the book. All of the other characters stand out too, especially Sam’s friends.  Adrian is the clown of the group, Mike is Sam’s gay best friend, Allison is their tom-boy female friend, and then there is Camilla.  Camilla is the cool new girl who arrives at Sam’s school at the start of the story and quickly becomes part of his group of friends.  She has an unusual name, a British accent, a tattoo, she’s from New York, she has a great smile, and she’s objectively attractive, all of which means she scores highly in Sam’s ‘mental social scorecard.’ Not only this, but she also knows a lot about movies and she wants to be friends with Sam.  I found myself falling for Camilla and I just wanted Sam to hurry up and kiss her.

Melissa’s writing is witty, heartfelt and incredibly funny.  I clicked with Sam straight away and I loved his point of view.  I loved Melissa’s description of characters through Sam’s eyes, like this one of Sam’s dad,

“My father likes Harvey Norman, the Discovery Channel, and for some reason, lizards.  He last smiled in 2008, which is one of the few things we have in common…My dad also looks like me – i.e. sort of like a storm-trooper.  And not the cool Star Wars kind.”

The dialogue is witty and I had to put the book down a couple of times because I was laughing so hard at some of the conversations between Sam and his friends.

I loved all of the pop culture references in Life in Outer Space.  I’m a huge movie geek so I loved all of the references to Sam and Camilla’s favourite movies and their debates about the merit of different movies.  Everything from Superman and Star Wars to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead gets a mention. Every time they would mention a movie I hadn’t seen I wanted to write it down so I could add it to my list of to-be-watched movies.

Life in Outer Space will make you think, feel, laugh and leave you wishing that Melissa’s characters were real.

5 out of 5

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Dinosaur Rescue: Scuto-stickysaurus

Like many boys around the country I look forward to a new Dinosaur Rescue book from the wonderful Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley.  Each book gives me my dose of prehistoric facts, disgusting dinosaur behaviour and wild adventures with Arg the brainy cave boy.  Arg’s latest adventure is Scuto-stickysaurus.

In Scuto-stickysaurus, disgusted by his family’s eating habits, Arg leaves his cave to search for the cause of the terrible noise that is filling the air.  He discovers a Scutosaurus, a very slow, heavily armoured dinosaur, and he sets off to save it from his tribe’s hunting party.  It’s not long before he finds himself stuck to the Scutosaurus with no way to pry himself loose.  It’s up to his good friend Skeet to rescue him and the Scutosaurus before it’s too late.

Scuto-stickysaurus has the perfect mix of fact, fiction and stinky dinosaurs that I love about this very cool series.  In this book you can:

  • Learn how to look like a Neanderthal,
  • Find out about a prehistoric trip to the dentist,
  • Get some jungle survival tips (Bear Grylls style)
  • Learn about dangerous jungle plants
  • Discover the perfect way to escape a Deadly Mouth Plant.

There’s also plenty of dinosaur poo and farts to go around, and when it comes to these, Arg is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It’s the combination of the story and the illustrations that makes this series so hilarious.  Scuto-stickysaurus is the 7th book in the series and it’s just as good as the 1st book, T-wreck-asaurus.  I hope that Kyle and Donovan have got plenty more ideas up their sleeves for Arg’s future adventures.

Thanks to Scholastic New Zealand I have 2 copies of Scuto-stickysaurus to give away.  You can enter here.

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Win a Dinosaur Rescue Prize Pack

Scuto-stickysaurus is the latest book in Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley’s disgusting and hilarious Dinosaur Rescue series.  Each book gives me my dose of prehistoric facts, disgusting dinosaur behaviour and wild adventures with Arg the brainy cave boy.  You can read my review here.

Did you know there is an awesome new Dinosaur Rescue website?  Head to www.dinosaur-rescue.com to have a look at all the interesting information and cool activities.

Thanks to Scholastic New Zealand I have a Dinosaur Rescue prize pack to give away, including a copy of Scuto-stickysaurus and 2 other Dinosaur Rescue books .  To get in the draw all you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below, and tell me 2 things that you can find at www.dinosaur-rescue.com.  Competition closes Wednesday 28 November (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Annette.

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