n

 

I receive many inquiries about humorous books for 8 to 12 year olds.  I
believe I have found the perfect book that will have your child not only
smiling all of the way through, but laughing out loud. "No More Nasty", by
Amy MacDonald, is a hilarious book about a substitute school teacher who
comes into a most unruly and badly behaving class.
When Mrs. Maxwell, or known throughout the story as Matilda, comes into
class, the students are ready to give her the hardest time of her life.  But
what they don't know is that she is quite an extraordinary person, who
questions everything and respects children as much, or perhaps more, than
other adults.  Her dress immediately sets her apart by her large fruity
looking hat and her mismatched shoes.  But, the class begins to become
enlightened by her questioning everything they do and say.
Simon is part of this fifth grade class and is completely embarrassed by
this new teacher because it is his Great-Aunt Matilda.  Fortunately for him,
no one in the class realizes that these two people know each other and Aunt
Matilda isn't going to spill the beans.  What makes this story so funny is
the way Ms. MacDonald has developed the main character.  Matilda reminds me
of Peggy Parish's series of books about Amelia Bedelia.  Amelia Bedelia is a
very funny maid who takes everything literally, like planting light bulbs
into dirt when asked to "plant some bulbs", and consequently gets into some
humorous situations. Parrish's books are geared for early readers, where Ms.
MacDonald's is geared for older elementary aged children.
Matilda is so unpredictable that you're never quite sure what to expect of
her or where her actions with the class are headed.  But, she is so nice to
the kids (the former teacher was always rattled and upset with her class)
and lets them help direct what will be taught daily, that the reader will be
intrigued by how things turn out.  Matilda is also very funny in how she
responds to the class, and anyone else.  For example, when the assistant
principal interrupts her teaching, not once, but twice, in the same period
of time, Matilda has a way with words to make sure he doesn't do it again.
When it comes time for lunch, she tries out the faculty lounge, but decides
she'd rather eat with the kids.  When asked why, she answers that the lounge
didn't have any chocolate milk. And then, when the sassy Science teacher
brags that his class will once again win the school science fair, she
prepares her class for a project that will be the envy of the entire school.
As the reader will immediately discover, this book will not only be fun and
entertaining, but hard to put down. There are black and white illustrations
sprinkled throughout by Bowman Smith that add to the story line.  So, if
you're looking for a light, but humorous book for your upper elementary
child to enjoy, this one fills the bill.  Also, Ms. MacDonald has another
book with the same Great-Aunt Matilda at the center, "No More Nice".

n

Now for another humorous book, "Diary of a Worm", by Doreen Cronin.  This is
a funny look inside the life of a....you guessed it, a worm.  This picture
book, with colorful and funny pictures by Harry Bliss, chronicles the life
of a young worm.  He begins his diary with March 29 where he tries to teach
his friend, spider, how to dig.  But problems ensue as spider's legs get
stuck. (There's a bubble from the spider saying that he thinks he's twisted
one of his ankles.) Then spider swallows a lot of dirt and with that - worm
gives up.  Several entries later (April 10), he states that it rained all
night and the "...ground was soaked. We spent the entire day on the
sidewalk. Hopscotch is a very dangerous game."  The picture shows a girl
ready to pounce on worm and a friend. Their faces show of horror.  A few
days later, he writes that he forgot to bring his lunch and he was hungry so
he ate his homework.  The teacher is upset and makes him write many times:
"I will not eat my homework."  However, when he finished writing this
punishment, he ate it.
As you can see, the whole premise is hilarious and kids of all ages will
delight in the story and the pictures. Both inside covers have pictures and
descriptions underneath of himself and his family making the appearance of a
scrapbook. These pictures alone will bring a smile to your face! This is
great for kids young and old!