Lazar, Ralph. Total Mayhem #1 Monday – Into the Cave of Thieves. Scholastic Press, 2021. 978-1-338-77037-7. 208 p. $6.99. Grades 2-5
In Dash Candoo’s world, boring days do not happen. Before he even eats his breakfast on Monday he is attacked by “combat-ready scallywags and the two tailed Devil Cat.” When Dash gets to school he has other hilarious situations to deal with, which are shown off in funny illustrations. At the back of the book, there is an almanac which gives you more information about all the things that Dash and his friend use throughout the book.
THOUGHTS: This book is great for fans of Captain Underpants and will definitely be a favorite in any elementary library.
Humorous Fiction Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Archer, Micha. Wonder Walkers. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021. 978-0-593-10964-9. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.
When two children head outside for a walk, there’s no shortage of things to wonder about. The more they explore, the more questions they have. “Is the sun the world’s light bulb?” “Are branches trees’ arms?” “Are roots the plant’s toes?” The simple text consists mainly of the children’s questions, and the straightforward writing encourages contemplation and discussion. The illustrations are the stars of this book. Stunning double page spreads were created with inks and collage using tissue paper and patterned papers. Archer also uses homemade stamps to create different textures and layers. From green patterned ribbons of grass to swirling underground root networks to patchworks of sunset sky, students will pore over the pages, noting new details with each repeated read.
THOUGHTS: Use this title to encourage students to become more observant and appreciative of the wide world around them. This is the perfect story to share after a nature walk, as students will make connections to things they noticed and things the children in the story encounter. Whether inspired by fields of wildflowers, changing leaves, or a burbling brook, students will have no trouble coming up with “wonders” of their own as they let their imagination soar.
Picture Book Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
Stutzman, Jonathan. Don’t Feed the Coos! Henry Holt, 2020. 978-1-250-30318-9. Unpaged. $17.99. PreK-2.
When a young girl feeds some pigeons (or coos) in the park, she soon discovers that she cannot escape them. They follow her everywhere! Even worse, they poo all over everything. She tries desperately to make them leave, but nothing works. Just as she has accepted her fate as their caretaker, she finally discovers a solution to her problem. An amusing story accompanied by cartoon-like illustrations, this title would be an extremely entertaining read aloud for young children.
THOUGHTS: I read this title with my preschooler, and she got a big kick out of it. The illustrations are very reminiscent of Mo Willems’ pigeon books, so it would be an excellent choice for Willems fans. In fact, my daughter actually asked me to get some more pigeon books from the library after we read this title. This is definitely a worthy addition to any collection serving young children.
Picture Book Julie Ritter, PSLA Member
Lowry, Lois. The Willoughbys Return. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 978-0-358-42389-8. 182 p. $17.99. Grades 4-6.
The Willoughby family is back in this entertaining sequel. After being frozen in the snowy Swiss Alps for thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have thawed, apparently none the worse for wear, except for being behind the times. The couple, who were not the most caring parents, decide to return home and reunite with their children, who are now technically older than them. During the time of their absence, all four children were adopted by Commander Melanoff, who married their nanny. The eldest son, Tim, succeeded the Commander as CEO of a successful candy company. At least, it was successful until the government banned all candy as unhealthy. Next door to the mansion lives the Poore family, who like their name, is in very reduced circumstances. They open a bed and breakfast and the first guests are Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, whose stay is cut short after eating a salad of poisonous leaves prepared by the unwitting Mrs. Poore. Eventually, the Willoughbys are reunited and the parents thaw out their relations with their children, as they adjust to the new world of Google, FaceTime and Skype. Even the hapless Mr. Poore, an unsuccessful traveling encyclopedia salesman, returns home penniless, but with some glittery rocks, which will change his family’s life forever. The author speaks to the reader in occasional footnotes, which provide additional plot details or explain a reference.
THOUGHTS: This satirical “rags to riches” and “riches to rags” story is sure to delight fans of Lemony Snicket’s books and those who can appreciate a parody of those classic orphan stories.
Humorous Fiction Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member