Last night at the library, I was asked to recommend a funny book for a fifth grader. I immediately thought of two authors that crack me up every single time I read them — Barbara Robinson and Jean Shepherd. These two women have written the Holy Trinity of funny kids books and I *highly* recommend them to kids and adults alike….
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd.
Yep. The one and the same as the ubiquitous movie that is shown 24 hours a day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The adventures of Ralphie, Flick, and the Old Man are absolutely hilarious. Fans of the movie will find the book very similar, and anyone who grew up in the 1950s or 1960s will appreciate the “historical” references. I am especially fond of the Old Man and his forays into the basement to deal with the “clanky old son of bitch” furnace that never stayed lit, or the pack of neighborhood dogs that ate the Christmas ham.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Herdmans are one of the funniest (and saddest) literary families ever. We all know or knew a family like the Herdmans, where it seemed like there were a million kids in the family, and they all ran wild. The Herdmans joined the cast of the local Christmas pageant just so they can get free donuts, but end up learning a little bit about themselves and what Christmas is all about.
The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Herdmans are back, but this year they’ve ruined Halloween. The town cancels Halloween because the Herdmans routinely ruin it by setting fires and stealing everyone’s candy. The school faculty attempt to salvage some of the fun by putting on a Halloween party & haunted house, but the Herdmans crash…with unexpected results.
Three of my all-time favorites. Share ’em with your kids or read ’em to yourself. Either way, you will laugh until ya can’t laugh no more….
I started a whole bunch of books over the Christmas holiday. Finished some, put some aside. Here they are…
- The World According to Martha – Pretty much a book of quotations masquerading as business advice from Martha Stewart. Nothing earthshattering, and nothing that changed my life forever. The thread count of sheets sold at K-Mart really isn’t at the top of my Most Important Things To Know list, but I did enjoy reading her philosophy on working hard and being the best. I can’t help it. She fascinates me!
- Kringle by Tony Abbott. The story of Kris Kringle, even though everyone knows he was raised by Tante Kringle and the Kringles, the first toymakers to the King. Almost finished with it. Scott stole it away from me just when it was getting good. Kringle’s caregiver had just been stolen by goblins, and he had finally made his way to the nearest city, only to find it a heap of smoking ruins. Should finish it tonight….
- Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door by Lynn Truss – An utter, bloody waste of time. The author had some success with Eats Shoots and Leaves which was her lament on the state of grammar in the 21st century, but she totally missed the mark on this one. Totally not funny.
- The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl – a murder mystery set in the young U.S. and featuring such luminaries as Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell. I usually like mysteries based on books, but this one has only served to remind me of how much I hated Dante’s Inferno in high school.
- Sweet & Sour Lily by Sally Warner – one of Lizzy’s books from school. I think it’s terribly easy reading for her, but she says no. One of the few early chapter books I’ve read that features a young character who’s father is in jail. Kind of a light read in the vein of Ramona Quimby, but not as well drawn.