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Humorous books can help get kids into the reading spirit

by Kendal Rautzhan

If you’re trying to interest children in reading (and I hope you are), one of the best ways to begin is with books that are funny. After all, who doesn’t like to laugh?

Today’s reviewed books illustrate that point perfectly. For older readers, trot around the globe with a 4,000-year-old mummy who is trying to rescue his mummified mother, stolen by grave robbers. For younger children, read about four big chickens that are afraid of just about everything, or become a detective and find out who left all those crazy moose tracks.

Laughter is good medicine in more ways than one, and when a child hears a funny story, there can be no other conclusion on the child’s part – reading is fun.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“The Mummy’s Mother” by Tony Johnston, Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, 2003, 160 pages

Read aloud: age 8 and older. Read yourself: age 8-9 and older.

Grave robbers have made their way into one of the great pyramids in Egypt. Awakened by the invaders, 10-year-old mummy Ramose realizes they are stealing his mummy mother, the queen. The two of them have been sealed in the secret tomb for more than 4,000 years, waiting for the afterlife.

Knowing it is his job to get his mother back to the tomb, Ramose scrambles to find her. With the help of a crabby talking camel and some young American tourists, Ramose follows his mother and her robbers across the desert, onto a large ship, all the way to New York City.

Will he be able to find her, and if so, will they be able to return to their tomb in Egypt? A hilarious, globetrotting adventure, this original, fresh novel is first-rate.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Douglas County Public Library, 1625 Library Lane, Minden

Library Director: Linda Deacy

Youth Services Librarian: Kathy Echavarria

Choices this week: “The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy” by Jeanne Birdsall; “Don’t Fidget a Feather” by Erica Silverman; “Honey … Honey … Lion” by Jan Brett

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Big Chickens” by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Henry Cole, Dutton, 2006, 32 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3-4 and older. Read yourself: age 7 and older.

“One day four big chickens peeked out the coop window and saw a wolf sneak into the farmyard.”

Terrified, the chickens squawked, knocked into one another, and ran out of the coop and into the woods to hide. Afraid to go home, the four chickens walked deeper into the woods, but there they faced more things that frightened them.

With each new obstacle, the chickens discussed what they were afraid of, and the more they talked about it, the more scared they became until they completely lost control of themselves and wound up experiencing the very things they feared most.

From falling into a muddy ditch, dodging a pasture full of scary cows, and toppling out of a boat into the water, these chickens were one frazzled bunch. But when they came to a dark cave where they might be bats or “a big, hairy, chicken-chomping animal,” who do you think was there?

Loaded with humor and just the right dash of apprehension, “Big Chickens” will have children laughing and begging for repeat readings.

“Moose Tracks!” by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jack E. Davis, McElderry Books, 2006, 32 pages, $16.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3-4 and older. Read yourself: age 7.

“There are moose tracks on my back porch. I’m not sure how they got there. One thing I’m fairly certain of – last night those tracks were not there.” But wait – there are moose tracks everywhere in this narrator’s house. They are in the kitchen, in the den, the bathroom and the bedroom. They’re even outside by the barbecue. Humm…who could have left such a mess?

Part mystery, part whodunit, and 100 percent fun, “Moose Tracks!” will have young detectives smiling on every page.

— Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature and can be e-mailed at kendal@sunlink.net