Short & Funny, Please …

So you’re ready to move from Cat in the Hat to chapter books … but please keep it funny, you say, and not TOO long, OK?

I think I’ve got some suggestions that will be a big hit.

Roscoe Riley RulesRoscoe Riley Rules series, by Katherine Applegate
#1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs (lexile: 340; AR book level: 2.9; 79 pp)

When I read the first book in this series, I thought, “Hey, this is Junie B. Jones for boys!”  Like Junie B, Roscoe speaks in his own first-grader voice, and he is always getting in trouble for doing the wrong thing.  And these books are laugh-out-loud funny!

Each book starts and ends with Roscoe in the time-out chair.  You see, his world is full of rules, but Roscoe’s just figuring them out as he goes along – like Rule #1, about not using Super-Mega-Gonzo-Glue on your friends.  Roscoe means well – he and his classmates are supposed to sing the Buzzy Bee song for open house, but the kids won’t stay seated and their bobbing antennas keep slipping.  You can guess Roscoe’s solution.  The chapters are REALLY short and the sentences simple and snappy, so they’re perfect for those starting chapter books, as well as great to read aloud to younger kids.

We have all the titles at DPL (and they don’t have to be read in order):

  1. Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs
  2. Never Swipe a Bully’s Bear
  3. Don’t Swap Your Sweater for a Dog
  4. Never Swim in Applesauce
  5. Don’t Tap-Dance on Your Teacher
  6. Never  Walk in Shoes that Talk
  7. Never Race a Runaway Pumpkin

 The Zack Files series, by Dan Greenburg
#26: Me and My Mummy (lexile: 470; AR book level: 3.5; 60 pp)

If you like mummies, ghosts, vampires, aliens and other strange stuff, but you don’t want CREEPY supernatural, just goofy-funny supernatural, then Zack Greenburg is your guy.  Weird things just seem to happen to 10-year-old Zack, like making friends with the new kid at school who happens to be a 3000-year-old mummy named Icky, or becoming invisible when he drinks his genius friend Spencer’s invisible ink.  Other titles involve a  substitute teacher who’s a werewolf, an alien who’s lost his spaceship, and an extra-terrestrial fungus that threatens to eat everything in sight.  (And who could not be intrigued by book entitled Tell a Lie and Your Butt will Grow?)

For parents concerned about particular supernatural themes, note that some books involve topics like reincarnation or witches, but you can pick and choose the titles you’re comfortable with.  They don’t have to be read in any particular order.  There are 30 titles in the whole series; at DPL we have:

1.  Great-Grandpa’s in the Litter Box
3.  A Ghost Named Wanda
8.  My Son, the Time Traveler
12. Now You See Me – Now You Don’t
13.  The Misfortune Cookie
15.  Hang a Left at Venus
19.  The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot
23.  Greenish Eggs and Dinosaurs
26.  Me and My Mummy
28.  Tell a Lie and Your Butt Will Grow
29.  Just Add Water and – Scream!
30.  It’s Itchcraft!

And anything by Dan Greenburg is off-the-wall funny.  At a slightly higher reading level, check out his Weird Planet series (#1 Dude, Where’s My Spaceship?), about space alien kids who accidentally crash land their spaceship in the Nevada desert.

Downgirl and SitDown Girl & Sit series, by Lucy Nolan
#1: Smarter than Squirrels (lexile: 380; AR book level: 2.9; 60 pp)

Down Girl and Sit are two rowdy dogs, neighbors, so-named because that’s all they hear from their masters.  Down Girl tells the story, from her own doggy perspective, of all the important things that she and Sit do each day – like guarding their yards from dangerous squirrels and the evil neighbor cat, aptly named Here Kitty Kitty.  Their human masters aren’t too smart (why don’t they bury their treasures?), but the dogs try to help them.  For example, Down Girl thoughtfully wakes her human early every morning so he won’t be scared by the alarm clock.

In the other books the dogs take a trip to the beach,  go camping, and try (unsuccessfully) to train their humans.  Sentences are short and snappy, just like you’d expect a dog to talk.   These are great bed-time read-alouds — but not if others are already sleeping, because your laughter just might wake them up!

  1. Smarter than Squirrels
  2. On the Road
  3. Bad to the Bone
  4. Home on the Range

5 responses to “Short & Funny, Please …

  1. I love this! I thank you and my sons thank you.

  2. Thanks so much for the kind words about Roscoe. This is such a fun age to write for (for which to write???)! Once these guys get hooked on books, they gobble them up. Keep up the great work!

  3. Katherine — Thank YOU for writing the books! And please, are there more Roscoe Riley episodes in the works? I know a lot of our library patrons are eager for them!

  4. My son just started the 7th Roscoe Riley Rules book. He loves them! We sure hope #8 is in the works! (Please, Katherine Applegate;)

  5. Sharon — Alas, I have asked Katherine the same question, and I don’t think there are any more Roscoe Riley in the works! They are VERY popular among our library patrons, and I wish there were more, too! John

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