The worst-case scenario survival handbook: Junior edition, by Borgenicht & Epstein, Ill. C. Gonzales

August 31, 2011

Want to laugh?

Want to be grossed out?

Just open up this book!

The Skinny

The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook is for kids ages 9-12. It offers humorous and sometimes gross advice on the many perils of childhood. Every chapter revolves around a theme, such as “Survival skills for your social life”, which is then divided into small sections including different scenarios, such as “How to survive farting in public”.

Who will love this book?

Kids who love humor, the “gross factor”, and practical advice will love this book (some grownups will like this as well!). The titles of each scenario alone can draw the attention of readers, even those who are reluctant to pick up a book. The illustrations are colorful and slightly exaggerated for maximum laughter. Behind the humor and gross aspects, kids can also find trivia, helpful information on self-confidence, being bullied, doing well in school, and how to survive getting into trouble with grownups.  The practical advice is down to earth and believable.

This is one of those few, well-rounded books that has the capability of appealing to a very large audience.

What questions might you ask to get kids talking about the book?

  1. What methods have you tried to calm down an angry parent? Has any of it worked?
  2. What should you do when you get into trouble at home? Why?
  3. Have you ever felt you needed advice and did not know who to ask? What kind of advice were you looking for?

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Termites: Hardworking Insect Families (Insect World), by Sandra Markle

July 28, 2009

Rating: 5/5

Rating: 5/5

Can you say “Ewww, gross… cool!”

That pretty much sums it up for this informative book about termites for readers 9-12. It contains the “gross factor”, which many young readers, especially boys, flock to.

The pictures in the book are of real termites, blown up to show spiky, hairy and slimy details we would not usually be able to see with the naked eye. One of the first pictures in the book shows the unbelievably bloated body of the termite queen, who gets fatter and longer the more eggs she lays. Other pictures depict the different types of termites, their home, and their eating habits (quite possibly the most disgusting aspect of the book!)

Though I was constantly grossed out, I could not stop flipping the pages and reading about these tightly knit colonies where everyone is protected and nothing they find or create is wasted…including their bodily wastes!

Readers will be awed by the way this gigantic family unit operates to create their home. Thanks to the activity in the back of the book, they can also learn to build like a termite using salt dough and other disposable materials found around the house.

Sandra Markle did a wonderful job and has made it easy and fascinating to learn all about termites. I’ll be sure to pick up more of her books in the future.

Do you know of any other books/stories that are really gross and really interesting? Please share!

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Science Verse, by Jon Scieszka and Ill. Lane Smith

July 26, 2009

Rating: 5/5

Rating: 5/5

Awards: 2005 Picture Book Award

This is one of those books that I wish had been around for my childhood. While I have always liked Science classes, some of the more boring topics would have been much more interesting with these poems…(There is another book written by this pair I also wished had been around for my battle with math, called “Math Curse”. It’s just as good!)

In this picture book for ages 4-8, we read about a little boy who has been cursed by his science teacher to hear everything as a science poem.

The poems are funny, sometimes gross and always educational. All images are lively, sometimes darkly humorous and always fun.

The themes of the poems range from the planets to human liver and will certainly encourage boys to keep reading the pages. Readers will see the relevance of science in every aspect of their lives, even when going to bed:

“Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbug,
Tick, or louse
Suck blood from you,
Hatch its eggs,
And then develop the larvae on you

…all right?”

Though it’s supposed to be for readers 4-8 years old, everyone can enjoy these science poems.
Have you read Science Verse? “Good Night” is one of my favorite poems from this book. What’s yours?
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