Friday, September 2, 2011

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2011 - Installment #4

You saw "Installment #4" in the title up there and thought you missed something, didn't you? Well, you didn't. At least not for this year.

See, today is the first Friday in September. Which means it is the first day of the Second Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. But, this is Installment #4, because Installments 1, 2 and 3 were posted last year, during the First Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series.




The brief explanation for why I do this, and why it happens in September, 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.
 
For a full explanation of what the Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series is all about, click the link in this sentence. Then come on back, and we'll get right to Installment #4.

All set? Ok, then.

Here we go:

BnBWWoLS 2011 will have a bit of a different twist: themes! Or more precisely, variations on the Overall Weirdo Theme. This week's variation: 


Stinky in Name, Title, or Deed

Stink: Solar System Superhero, by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Ages 5 and up

Stink Moody is incensed. He just found out that Pluto, his second-favorite planet (after Saturn), is not only NOT a planet anymore, it didn't even get to keep its name - it just has a six-digit number, instead. And Stink isn't the only one who's cheesed off about this. So is the new kid, Skunk. 

But "Rotten Riley Rottenberger," AKA "Miss Know-It-All," is rather pleased at this new development, and she takes every opportunity to rub it in their faces. The rivalry intensifies, until finally Mrs. Dempster proposes that the class create their own panel of scientists, hold a debate, and let the class vote to decide Pluto's fate. Stink and Skunk, and Riley, and their supporters, dive right in: making signs, t-shirts, chants - anything to help win votes. All to decide once and for all: Is Pluto a planet? Or not?



In the very small town of Hamlet, Vermont, there are strange goings-on. A mysterious stranger's motorcycle is hit by lightning while it's parked behind Clumpett's General Store. The motorcycle has a briefcase strapped to it. Inside that briefcase are genetically altered chicken eggs, only three of which survive the lightning strike. Then Thud Tweed stomps his way into town, telling a different outrageous story every time someone asks about him, his family, or his past. His very wealthy and very aloof mother, Mildred Tweed, is equally puzzling - fully expecting her boy Thud to be kicked out of school, and ready with a blank check for what she is certain are the inevitable damages to come.

While the town is busy sifting through all this puzzling stuff, Trooper Crawdad is trying to puzzle out a couple of mysteries of his own: who is this fellow who's all fired up about a briefcase he reports has been stolen, and how could chicken eggs - as the fellow claims - possibly be a matter of national security?




Ah, the life of a cowboy: roundin' up cattle, cookin' up some vittles, singin' songs around the campfire, with only his trusty steed and loyal dog for company. Yessir, life sure is perfect for a cowboy...until he gets it in his head that he oughta prob'ly have hisself a bath. The cowboy in this story sets out to do just that. Just gettin' to the river takes some doin,' but he gets there alright, and charges his dog with guardin' his duds. An' then he heads to the river, nearly-new bar of lye soap in hand, an' he gets good and clean. But, once he fixes t' go git his duds back? Well, that's when things get interestin.'


Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, illustrated by Audrey Colman
Ages 5-8

Betty and Billy bring Walter the dog, smelling none too sweet, home from the pound. The family begins to get an inkling of why nobody wanted Walter when tell-tale bubbles appear in the bath water, and Walter emerges from his bath smelling no better than before he got in. 

Betty and Billy are OK with Walter's constant gaseous emissions...but Daddy is not. He demands a trip to the vet, who prescribes a change in diet. But no matter what they try, Walter remains helplessly flatulent. So Daddy demands Walter's return to the pound. Tomorrow.

Walter doesn't want to go back to the pound, so he resolves never to fart again. That night, as he lay on the sofa, a pair of burglars break in. Walter wants to stop them from stealing his new family's things, but he can't move for fear of releasing all the gas he's been struggling to hold in.

What's a gassy dog to do?



The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
Ages 4-8

Don't let the fairy tale premise fool you. These retellings are as snarky and sarcastic as the title suggests. The stories are narrated by Jack, from Up the Hill, who is not your average fairy tale narrator. He's prickly. He insults the fairy tale talent. He installs pages upside down…on purpose. In Jack's abrasive storytelling style, the sweet Gingerbread Man becomes the smelly Stinky Cheese Man; Little Red's Riding Hood is swapped for a pair of Running Shorts; and The Little Red Hen - who keeps asking when it's time for her story - is brusquely dismissed each time she tries. In all, twelve different stories are collected and retold here. And not one is spared Jack's acerbic tongue, to bitingly (questionably?) funny effect.


Good Families Don't, by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Alan Daniel
Ages 5 and up

Carmen heads up to her room for the night, only to be confronted by a big purple, green and yellow fart. She dashes downstairs to alert Mommy and Daddy. Good families like theirs don't have farts, they tell her. But they go up to check it out anyway, and that's when the fart jumps on them. She calls the police, and when they arrive, they go upstairs to check it out. But, they tell her, good Canadians do not have farts. And then the fart jumps on them, too. Carmen decides the only way to save herself now is to run away. But just as she gets out of the house, she trips on something. Something that may be just what she needs to save all of them from that big purple, green and yellow fart.


* * *

Well, I had fun. Did you? What are your favorite "stinky" kids' books? Drop me a comment and tell me all about it.

Come on back each Friday this month, for more Wonderful Weirdos of Literature.


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