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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Humorous Book Ideas for the Elementary School Child

This has been quite a week of worry, waiting, and relief.  

And it's only Wednesday.
Thankfully, my middle daughter, in all her growing up, distracted me from all the stresses of life.  She just turned eight-years-old and in a flurry of hopeful news, I picked up the girls from school, brought their dolls and surprised them with a trip to the American Girl store, which just opened in my area.

My daughter had begged for an American Girl doll birthday party with  twenty of her closest friends (slight exaggeration, here).  When I had looked into it, it was much more than I was willing to spend (scroll to the bottom of the linked page to see price).  I convinced her that we could have a lovely doll party at home (this Sunday!) and she agreed.  Of course, I felt guilty, hence the surprise trip to the store.    

Did you know they have a salon for the dolls, offering hairstyling and ear piercing?  A bistro where the girls and their dolls can eat together?  Dolls, accessories and clothing displayed on two floors?  It is a posh haven for girls who love their dolls.  There were no signs of lagging retail sales here, where parents were lined up at the cash registers to purchase bags of expensive doll stuff.

I am so grateful my girls behaved in the store, and didn't whine at all the times I said, "No."  They enjoyed the moment and loved looking at all the doll goodness without getting jealous of all the other girls with their huge bags.  Middle child chose an ice skating outfit and skates for her doll, eldest chose a book, little one wanted a hairbrush.  This was a big moment, and of course, I caved in so their dolls could get pierced ears.  (Believe me, I was halfway tempted to just bring the dolls home and drill holes into the ears myself, but with my luck, something disastrous would happen.  This is probably best left to the professionals.)

All I can say, is my daughter's birthday party is going to be delightful.  My daughter's friends can bring either their favorite doll or stuffed animal and we are going to do them up, with hairstyles, make necklaces or collars, and have a nice tea party. 

With the type of week I'm having, humor is sorely needed, and for that, I know I can always rely on any one of my children's favorite books.  By the way, if you're looking for a holiday book gift for an elementary child, these would be laugh-out-loud reads.  

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park (If you can find the audiobooks narrated by Lana Quintal, you are in for a treat!)

Here are some reader suggestions:


Nowheymama said...

Sounds like a perfect birthday.

Oh yes, K. is deeply into the Junie B. books right now. Haven't tried the audio versions yet, though!

Vivian said...

You must try the audiobook versions for Junie B. Jones. But there are two different narrators...make sure it is the one with Lana Quintal. She is sooo funny.

The audiobooks are also perfect since the child can follow along while they're reading and listen to how to enunciate and emote each sentence.

Glad K. enjoys the series!

carolsnotebook said...

I am so jealous. My daughter's 8, but has never been at all interested in dolls. Stuffed animals yes, dolls no. And I was so looking forward to playing with them.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I highly recommend the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. My elementary students loved when I read them aloud. We'd all laugh together at the things Ramona did. The boys--as well as the girls--related to Ramona Geraldine Quimby. I think my favorite of all the books is RAMONA THE PEST, which takes place when Ramona goes to kindergarten.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Here are two more funny books for kids: FAT MEN FROM SPACE by Daniel Pinkwater and the uproarious THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara Robinson.

Vivian said...

It is fun playing with the dolls. But, I have to tell you, your daughter probably saved you a fortune, based on what I saw at this store.

And have you seen the clothes you can dress the stuffed animals in?

I love your ideas and am going to add them to the list! Thank you!

Kim Baise said...

Oh yes Elaine! I LOVED Ramona the Brave when I was a kid!!!
I can't believe they actually have ear piercing for dolls and 2 floors of doll wardrobe!! Whoa!!! I have a few years until my little girl turns 8. I wonder what will come next... a doll henna booth and belly piercing/rings to match the belly dancer wardrobe outfit?!!
Vivian, your party sounds like a wonderful idea. I love homemade creative parties the BEST.

Vivian said...

I've got your suggestion up on the list!

And yes, the American Girl store is quite something else. The salon for the dolls cracked me up. They had about six doll salon chairs screwed onto the counter, and a hairstylist gets to play with the dolls hair and style it for the cost of a regular haircut. The ear piercing though is behind closed doors. And the doll then gets six pairs of new earrings in a little gift bag.

beckylevine said...

Well, I'm really glad the relief part came through for you! Hope everything's okay.

I don't think you can go wrong with Captain Underpants, myself. Roald Dahl, especially The BFG. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Half Magic, by Edward Eager. I know there are more--I hadn't realized elementary school felt so far away! David McPhail's Pigs Aplenty (picture book).

Jim Danielson said...

What perfect timing! Subject for tomorrow's SCBWI coffee shop meeting is "gift books". These are some great suggestions.


Beth Kephart said...


I've missed you, and now you have me worried (though relieved). I'm hoping all will continue to be okay now.

Vivian said...

Thank you! Everything is going to be fine.

Glad you like these suggestions! You are so lucky you have these SCBWI events. I'm feeling rather out of the loop with these sort of things.

Thank you! Things are going to be okay. I'll have your suggestions up on the list, soon!

Susan (Chicken Spaghetti) said...

Vivian, I hope your week is on the upswing! My niece used to love the American Girl dolls--she's 21 now.

Around here the American Girl birthday party includes escorting a bunch of excited girls into NYC on the commuter train, and then schlepping over to the store at Times Square. I think you are SO wise to have the party at home.

We had Jr.'s birthday party at home this year. A rather wild Haunted House affair, but fun.

jama said...

You made me wish I were eight again -- the birthday party sounds like so much fun! And what a nice surprise, going to the new AG store. Thanks for the funny books list, too. I've always been a big Ramona fan!!

Vivian said...

Thanks, Susan and Jama!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I forgot the Judy moody series, which is popular with elementary kids. Margie Palatini's PIGGIE PIE was a favorite funny picture book in my classroom. How about Jon Scieszka's picture books THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, THE FROG PRINCE CONTINUED, THE STUNKY CHEESE MAN, and MATH CURSE?

Vivian said...

Thank you for coming up with these books. I'm going to put them up, right now.

sheila said...

And I thought the Build A Bear store was ulcer-inducing. I bought a miniature stuffed kitten (the TOY of the big cat my daughter has) a SWEATER for FIVE BUCKS. I bought the toy of a toy a sweater! I can't afford all this fun!

I second the Ramona series. I loved Beverly Cleary as a girl. Also Harriet the Spy, although it's not very funny. There's also our fave: Diana Wynne Jones. Everyone loves her here. We just finished House of Many Ways and Castle in the Air, which had them in stitches.

It's a funny thing, what makes a kid laugh. I've been reading HP and the Goblet of Fire right now, in the mornings, and there are certain passages that don't seem all that hilarious to me but the kids completely crack up - all three of them. Very curious.

I love the idea of piercing her ears yourself. Got a Dremel? Have fun at the party and I will hope that your week only gets better.