J Humor

MY VERY (VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY) SILLY BOOK OF GAMES by Matt Lucas

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Interspersed with jokes, spirited illustrations, and hilarious commentary, Lucas provides a list of children’s games, both well-known and more obscure, including games from around the world. What sets this book apart from many books of games is not only the humor, but the emphasis on variation and imagination. With many of the games, especially the old standards like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” Lucas riffs off of the original, suggesting ways to modify the game to make it sillier, and directly invites the readers to come up with their own variations. This is not a book of descriptions and rules, but an invitation to creative play. I’d recommend this one for library collections and for families planning birthday parties–or dreading a long summer with bored kids. My 6-year-old also gave this one her whole-hearted stamp of approval once she stopped laughing long enough to catch her breath.

ONE DEAD SPY: THE LIFE, TIMES, AND LAST WORDS OF NATHAN HALE, AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS SPY by Nathan Hale

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Revolutionary Captain Nathan Hale is about to be executed for spying on the British.  While the British officer is fetching the hanging orders, the jovial hangman helps Nathan brainstorm some awesome Last Words.  But when Nathan says “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” he is immediately swallowed by a giant book.  It turns out those Last Words were so awesome that Nathan Hale made history!  And his brief visit to the history book gives him a glimpse of some fascinating events that happen in the future.  When the British officer returns, Nathan Hale delays his hanging by telling the story of the Revolutionary War and its outcome.  And he promises to delay his hanging even further by telling about other dramatic historical events as the series of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales continues.

This graphic novel series is great!  Author/Artist Nathan Hale (illustrator of Rapunzel’s Revenge) brings American history to life with his artwork and infuses it with humor through the great framing story of the character Nathan Hale, the pompous British officer, and the comedic hangman.   One Dead Spy is currently on the NYT Bestselling Graphic Novels list.  Two sequels have been published so far (Big Bad Ironclad! and Donner Dinner Party).  A fourth (Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood) comes out next month.

YOU MUST BE JOKING by Paul Brewer

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If you are looking for a great joke book for upper-elementary age readers, You Must Be Joking is the book for you!  Brewer includes a broad selection of jokes, for the corny classics to clever new jokes.  The book is broken into chapters by subject matter with a separate chapter for Knock-Knock jokes.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for jokes more interesting and inventive than the stupid, corny jokes found in most children’s joke books.