Review posted November 12, 2011.
Walden Pond Press (HarperCollins), 2010. 268 pages.
I heard about this book at an ALA Annual Conference event in 2010, where Jon Scieszka gave a great talk on using audiobooks to reach reluctant readers. He talked about starting this series of books with stories that appeal to boys. The first book in the series is what it says: Funny.
And a bonus, of course, is that girls, and adults, will laugh at these stories, too. They got some stellar authors to write the stories: Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Eoin Colfer, David Lubar, David Yoo, Jeff Kinney, Christopher Paul Curtis, Paul Feig, and Jack Gantos. They even let one woman contribute: One piece is by Kate DiCamillo and Jon Scieszka.
The stories are indeed funny. I especially enjoyed "My Parents Give My Bedroom to a Biker," by Paul Feig, where his parents do just that, which tips the kid off that they are being influenced by aliens. Then there's "A Fistful of Feathers," which is slightly similar, only this time it's a turkey that wedges its way into the parents' affections.
Another laugh-out-loud favorite was "Will," by Adam Rex, where ALL the other kids in Will's class turn out to have superpowers. Well, not necessarily superpowers. Barry found out over the weekend he's a wizard and will be finishing the year at a wizards' school. Aidan recently learned he's the son of Thor, but he's not bad for a demigod. In fact, the teacher is getting quite bitter about it.
"POP QUIZ!" she hooted. The class groaned, as classes will, but it sounded feeble. There weren't even enough kids to get a good groan going anymore. "An essay, in two hundred words or less! Explain what you think will happen to a teacher if all her students keep turning into flipping butterflies! Assume she has only two years' experience and student loans. Show your work," she added, and went to hide behind her desk for a while. Usually a screaming teacher was like ice down your back, but Ms. Chadwick had been getting gradually louder since Labor Day.
No one, strictly speaking, had actually turned into a butterfly. Hannah had sprouted wings from touching some sort of meteorite back in November, but everyone agreed they were really more dragonfly wings than anything else. She'd done a science fair project about it before leaving for St. Peppermint's Fairy Academy over winter break.
These stories would be fantastic choices for the Fourth Grade Reading competition they used to have at my sons' school. Those who chose funny stories always did well, and these would be great crowd-pleasers. They'd also make great read-alouds. Read one story, and I bet you'd have a whole class clamoring to check out the book.
I'm not a guy, but I'm definitely looking forward to future books in this series.