Friday, September 17, 2010

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series - Installment #2

What's all this? you may ask. Good question! The brief answer is:
Every Friday in September, I'll be posting a round-up of kids' books that I just love, with characters who are, well, characters. You know: the misunderstood, the eccentric, the quirky, the unique, the weird, the wacky.

Alrighty. I get it. But why's all this? you may ask. Another good question! The not-so-brief answer is:
For one thing, Wonderful Weirdos Day is celebrated this month. For another thing, September is Roald Dahl Month (most likely because his birthday is in September). And for yet another thing, September finds kids back in school, perhaps searching for some fun books to choose for their book reports or projects or what-have-you. And plus? I just wanted to.

To see the first installment of the BnBWWoLS, click the link all the way back in the first sentence of this post. Then, come right back here so you can check out what I've dug up for installment #2. These are books I've read, but not yet reviewed here on Bugs and Bunnies. If I do post a review, I'll come back here and add the link. So for now, read the summaries, and go find the books for yourself, because, trust me - they're fun to read:

Holes, by Louis Sachar
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Stanley Yelnats finds himself at Camp Green Lake, because a judge sentenced him to go there, because Stanley was accused of stealing some sneaks that basketball star Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston donated to a celebrity auction, even though Stanley said he never stole them. Nope. Those kicks fell on his head out of nowhere. For real. And Stanley blames the whole mess on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" - AKA the dude responsible for the curse that's been on the Yelnats family for generations.

But things get even weirder at Camp Green Lake, which: A. is lacking a lake, B. is not green, and C. is full of holes - hundreds of holes - that the warden has Stanley and the other boys digging day after day. What is the warden searching for? Who really stole those sneaks, and how did they fall out of nowhere onto his head? What's with this family curse thing? And what does any of this have to do with the legend of Wild West outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow? Only one way to find out...

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, by Josh Berk
Reading Level: Young Adult

Will Halpin is deaf. And, by his own definition, "hefty." He likes acronyms, and giving people nicknames. And he's the new kid at Carbon High - his first foray into a non-deaf school. His lip reading comes in handy as he navigates first the bus, and then his classes. He keeps a notebook, which quickly becomes filled with observations about some very odd folks, like: JIMMY PORKRINDS - the bus driver who mutters things like "Dig, dig, dig the hole, hidey-hidey hole," and SCUZZY GUY - a kid from the bus who spends class staring at his fingers. He also meets a girl with the very real first name of Purple, finds a friend in Devon Smiley, and crushes on Leigha - "MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD."

But things get weird fast. First, he finds out he shares his name with the famous ghost of a deaf coal miner. Then, at a class field trip to the abandoned Happy Memory Coal Mine, the star quarterback ends up at the bottom of a mine shaft. Who is this other Will Halpin? Did the quarterback fall...or was he pushed? Why is beautiful Leigha always so sad? And who on earth names their kid Purple?

A word to the wise: read this book where you are free to laugh so hard you cry. Often. Possibly with snorts. You have been warned.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Greg Heffley wants you to know, right off the bat, that this is a JOURNAL. Not a diary. No matter what it says on the front cover. And that his mom gave it to him, and that he's only writing in this JOURNAL because she's making him.

For a reluctant diarist, Greg has a lot to say - and draw - about life at the bottom of the middle school food chain, otherwise known as sixth grade. He explains all about the dreaded Cheese Touch, and bullies, and the intricacies of Phys. Ed. wrestling. He also lets us in on stuff he does with his best friend Rowley, and the indignities he suffers at the hands of Mom, Dad, big brother Roderick, and little brother Manny.

Go on. Take a peek in Greg Heffley's diary. I mean JOURNAL. It's not like it's snooping. He published it, didn't he?

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
Reading Level: Ages 4-8

George Beard and Harold Hutchins are just two normal fourth grade boys who like to have fun, play pranks, and draw comics of their very own made-up superhero, Captain Underpants. Which frequently lands them in the office of their principal, Mr. Krupp: a mean man who consistently fails to catch them in their pranks. But when George and Harold prank the football squad, Mr. Krupp finally captures the deed on video, threatening to expose them to the wrath of the team unless they do everything he says.

One day, the boys concoct a scheme to retrieve that video and rid themselves of this blackmail. They try out their mail-order 3-D Hypno-Ring on an unsuspecting Mr. Krupp, convincing him that he is their bald, underpants-and-cape-wearing superhero Captain Underpants. But when they try to snap him out of it, things go terribly wrong. Is Mr. Krupp doomed to be Captain Underpants forever? Can the boys save themselves from the wrath of the football team? Luckily, all your questions will be answered, in words and in pictures. All you have to do is read this book.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

"Honest and kind, brave and true" Charlie Bucket lives in a ramshackle house, crammed with his mom and dad, and both sets of grandparents who all lie in one big bed all day and never get out. When Charlie finds the fifth and final of the five golden tickets that Mr. Willy Wonka has hidden in his delicious chocolate bars - granting him access to Mr. Wonka's secretive chocolate factory - the excitement is enough to finally oust his Grandpa Joe out of bed to accompany him.

They are joined for the tour by quite an eccentric group: food-loving Augustus Gloop, spoiled-rotten Veruca Salt, gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde, tv-obsessed Mike Teavee, and their families. No one has been inside the factory for years, and the little group is treated to fantastic sights, heavenly confections, curious creatures, and the very odd Mr. Wonka himself. But, there are very strict rules to be followed on the tour, and the penalty for breaking them is as mysterious as the factory itself. If they can just follow the rules, the experience promises to be the time of their lives. If only they can resist the temptations.

- - -

I hope you had fun today, and that at least one of these books has you running to the library or the book store to find it and read it. Please come back next Friday, so you can read all about the books in the third and final installment of this year's Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series.

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