Archive for Humor

Booktalk: The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook by Rosanna Pansino

Nerdy Nummies Cookbook cover

I’m always on the lookout for nonfiction books that I can share with teens, and I’m ESPECIALLY on the lookout for “show and tell” format books that I can use to engage my audience no matter what their reading / attention level.  I found this book in my library’s adult collection, but I instantly knew that it would be a big hit with teens.

When presenting this booktalk to a class, I would first make sure that I’d marked the pages I wanted to show with sticky notes or page markers, and then I would show each picture to the class while I talked.  When booktalking a title like this I’d recommend marking pictures that look interesting to you, and then seeing if you can find something interesting to point out about each one.  If I’m addressing a large class but trying to show everyone a page in a particular book, I usually end up trying to find something to say to fill the silence while I walk from one side of the room to the other.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook is based on Rosanna Pansino’s very popular YouTube channel, so you can engage your audience even more by directing them to the videos for fun recipes that they can watch online.


Maybe you’re a nerd.  Maybe you’re a geek.  Maybe you’re into fantasy, science fiction, math, science, outer space, gaming, and more!

This unique cookbook is based on Nerdy Nummies, the internet’s most popular baking show.  You’ll learn how to make basic recipes like apple pie, pound cake, red velvet cake, brownies, cookies, and royal icing.  And then you’ll learn how to adapt those recipes to make very unusual, cool, and photogenic treats that you’ll just HAVE to show off!

You can use this book to learn how to make recipes like:

Chemistry Lab Cake

Periodic Table of Cupcakes

Moon Cake

Earth Cake

Unicorn Poop Cookies (because OF COURSE unicorn poop is made of rainbows!)

Loch Ness Cupcakes

Robot Brownie Pops

Zombie Brain Cake

Video Game Controller Cookies

Wi Fi Cheesecake

Smart Cookies

Comic Book Cookies

Nerd Bird Cupcakes
You can let your imagination and your taste buds run wild with this one-of-a-kind cookbook!

Booktalk: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here cover

So, how many of you are getting tired of hearing about Patrick Ness?  Yeah, me neither.  I love his books to pieces, as evidenced by the booktalks I’ve already writtten about his earlier books A Monster Calls and More Than This.  But with The Rest of Us Just Live Here, he writes a new kind of story altogether, a story about ridiculous but awesome YA novels and what must be going on behind the scenes.

This was a challenging story to booktalk, and I probably would share this with classes that I feel have a longer attention span because they’ll need to absorb the premise of the book in order to appreciate the payoff.  That being said, I would definitely recommend this book to teen audiences as well as adults.  It’s a great story overall, but it will be especially appreciated by fans of YA lit in all its ridiculousness / awesomeness.


Many of you have probably read young adult novels where an ordinary teenager becomes the hero of the story.  It starts out as the story of an ordinary teenager who lives in an ordinary town, but then something EXTRAORDINARY happens.  Maybe there’s an alien invasion.  Maybe people start turning into vampires or zombies.  Maybe the ancient gods are having a battle that affects modern-day earth.  But this ordinary teenager somehow manages to save the day.  Maybe it’s because he’s really smart.  Maybe it’s because her hobby was studying vampires, and that made her extra-prepared for vampire attacks.  Maybe it’s because he’s related to those ancient gods, or because he’s an alien himself.  For whatever reason, this ordinary teenager in an ordinary town turns out to be The Chosen One and manages to save the day.

Now, if you want to read a book about a teenager who turns out to be The Chosen One and saves the day, you go right ahead.  But THIS is not that book.

So far, we’ve taken our camera and zoomed in on this one kid who’s heroically fighting against the vampires … or gods, or aliens, or whatever.  But now let’s take that camera and zoom out until we can see the whole town.  What’s everyone else doing?  How are the rest of the people in the town reacting to what’s going on?  Do they even KNOW what’s going on?  Are they getting bitten by vampires, or blasted by ray guns, or are they just trying to go on with their ordinary lives while this life-or-death battle takes place just a few blocks away?

If you and your friends are ordinary teenagers in an ordinary town where disaster strikes but none of you are The Chosen One, what happens to you?  Can your life also be important even if you’re not the hero?  This book tells THAT story!

Booktalk: Ask the Past by Elizabeth P. Archibald

Ask the Past cover

I first heard about Ask the Past when I was listening to an episode of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast.  Elizabeth P. Archibald was being interviewed, and she talked about how she’d started the Ask the Past blog which turned into the Ask the Past book.  Even though this book was written for an adult audience, I thought that it might be worth reading because I’m always looking for nonfiction books (especially funny nonfiction books to balance out all of my depressing fiction books) that I could share with teens.  I was pleased to discover that this would be a great book to share with teens, although I am leaning towards high school rather than middle school because of the book’s higher reading level.

Also, I just wanted to mention that this is one of my favorite types of booktalks.  It’s basically a list, and if I leave out some of the items on the list it’s okay and if I rearrange the order of the items on the list it’s also okay.  This is always a good quality in a booktalk which can be very helpful if I lose my place while I’m talking or if I see that the kids in my audience don’t have the attention span I thought they did and I need to cut things short.


Sometimes you can get good advice by listening to people who are older than you.  Your parents and even your grandparents can try to point you in the right direction, and sometimes their advice will be good and sometimes it’ll be too old-fashioned and it won’t work.

This book is filled with advice that is much older than your parents or your grandparents.  It’s filled with advice from books that are hundreds of years old!  Sometimes the advice still works, but more often it’s really REALLY ridiculous.  For example, people used to believe:

  • that you could cure a nosebleed by using powdered toad
  • that you could cure insomnia by putting lettuce in your bed
  • that if you wanted to check if someone was alive or dead you should apply roasted onion to his nostrils (because if he was alive, he would scratch his nose)
  • that if you want to attack a ship you should throw jars of soap and hog’s fat to make the deck slippery so your enemies will fall down
  • that you could lose weight by eating bread, butter, and 3-4 cloves of garlic every morning and every evening
  • that you could cure seasickness by putting dirt under your nose
  • that you could cure laryngitis by applying a thin piece of raw beef to your forehead overnight
  • that you could get your hair to grow back by rubbing your bald spots with ground onions
  • that you could get rid of mosquitoes by fumigating your home with elephant dung
  • that you could win a court case if you carried the teeth, skin, and eyes of a wolf with you, and …
  • that you could heal a wound by covering it with a piece of raw bacon

You can learn all about these pieces of unusual advice and many more by reading —

Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice From Yesteryear by Elizabeth P. Archibald

Booktalk: The Kidney Hypothetical, Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee

Kidney Hypothetical cover

The Kidney Hypothetical, Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days has a couple of important things going for it.  It’s a funny (although bittersweet) story, it’s got a smart and sarcastic male protagonist, and it has one of my favorite titles since Josh Lieb’s I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President.  Which, now that I think of it, is also funny and also has a smart and sarcastic male protagonist …

Visit Lisa Yee’s website to learn more about her books for kids and teens!


Higgs Boson Bing had an amazing life.  He was an excellent student, he was going to go to Harvard like his father and grandfather before him, and his girlfriend was one of the most beautiful and popular girls in school.  And then that beautiful and popular girl asked him, “If I needed a kidney, would you give me one?”  Okay, she didn’t REALLY need a kidney.  It was just one of those hypothetical questions.  A “what if”? question.

Now, I’m going to give all of you a free piece of advice.  If your boyfriend or girlfriend ever asks you a question like this, what you SHOULD say is, “Of course, Honey!”  And then everything will be fine.  But Higgs Boson Bing didn’t say “Of course” because he really wanted to think about his answer.  WOULD he give up a kidney for her?  Wouldn’t that put his own life at risk?  Couldn’t she get a kidney from somebody else instead?

Well, this was definitely the WRONG answer.  His girlfriend was angry and upset and embarrassed.  And it certainly didn’t help that she complained to all her friends and told them what he said … and they told their friends … and they told everybody else … and very soon after that Higgs Boson Bing didn’t have a girlfriend any more.  And as an added bonus, everyone in school thought he was a jerk.

Unfortunately for him, giving the wrong answer to that hypothetical question was just the beginning of his bad luck.  And losing his girlfriend was just the first sign that his amazing life was totally going to fall apart.

Booktalk: Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen

Popular cover

Since most of the YA books I read are fiction and many of those are dark and depressing, I’m always on the lookout for nonfiction titles and for books that are sweet and uplifting at their core.  Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen succeeds on both counts!


This is the true story of a girl who tried to do something brave.  She tried to come out of her shell and become popular.  In order to transform herself, she used a book called Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide.  Betty Cornell wrote that book in 1951, and Maya’s father had bought a copy of that book at a thrift store before Maya was born.

Maya decided to see if advice that was over 60 years old would still work today, and if it could help her transform into something she definitely wasn’t.  Because up until now Maya had been quiet and shy, she only had a few friends, and she hated talking to strangers.  But when she was in 8th grade Maya used this book to learn how to use Vaseline instead of makeup on her eyes, how to brush her hair 100 times before she went to sleep at night, how to close her pores with ice cubes, how to wear pearls, how to stand tall, how to talk to strangers, and how to transform herself into a whole new person.





Booktalk: Dog Shaming by Pascal Lemire

Dog Shaming cover

I first heard about Dog Shaming on a reluctant readers booklist.  I was already familiar with the idea of embarrassed owners putting signs on their dogs from the hilarious Dog Shaming blog, so I ordered several copies of the book for my library.  Today was the first time I ever booktalked it, and the 7th graders who came to visit were delighted with this book and checked out my copies right away!

The most important thing about booktalking this book is that your audience needs to see the book while you’re talking about it (so yes, it’s not ideal for an audio podcast, but such is life).  I marked off the pages I wanted to talk about beforehand — see my sticky notes in the picture above — and then I showed the class the pictures as I talked about the book. You should all get copies of this book and share your own favorite pictures!


In 2012, Pascal Lemire had several dogs who were sometimes destructive.  One night she and her fiancee Mike were at home when they heard a weird chewing noise coming from under the bed,  When they went to investigate, they discovered that their dog Beau had been chewing on Mike’s underwear.  Some of it was in pieces and some of it was gone because the dog had eaten it.  Mike made a sign that said “I am an underwear eating jerk,” put it next to the dog and the half-eaten underwear, and took a picture of it.  Pascal posted the picture to her blog, and within 24 hours the post had nearly a thousand comments.  The Dog Shaming blog took off after that.

Here are examples of some of the many dog shaming pictures that readers have shared with Pascal, and you can look at these pictures and decide for yourself if you think these dogs are ashamed or not!

  • I knocked over the fish food so I could eat it.
  • My family went to Disney without me, so I ate my bed.
  • I have a high heel fetish.
  • I occasionally enjoy a battery with a side of remote.
  • I DESTROYED this couch.
  • I like to “paint” like my mom when she’s gone.  Wish I hadn’t gone with blue …
  • I refuse to eat my food out of my bowl.  I stand in front of the bowl and cry until my mom puts some on the floor for me to eat.  I am spoiled and I am not ashamed!
  • I got chocolate and tried to eat the hand that wanted to save me.
  • Irene,  I’m sorry I ate your flash drive (again).  Who knew that was homework?
  • I bit the landscaper and now have a record!
  • I ate nine red velvet cupcakes.  Including the paper.  They were delicious.

You can see these and many more dogs who embarrassed their owners in …

Dog Shaming by Pascal Lemire

Humor Books For Teens

Angus Thongs cover Unspeakable Evil CoverRelish cover

We all need to lighten the mood once in a while!  Here are some great books that you can buy for your collections and share with your teens.

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl
Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl
I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb
Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney
To Be or Not to Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
Oddballs by William Sleator
Click Here (to find out how I survived seventh grade) by Denise Vega
My Cup Runneth Over: The Life of Angelica Cookson Potts by Cherry Whytock

King of the Mild Frontier: an Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
Odd Jobs: Portraits of Unusual Occupations by Nancy Rica Schiff
Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights From the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice by
James Lileks
Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations From the Golden Age of American Cookery by James Lileks

Booktalk: To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

To Be Or Not To Be Cover

If you follow Kickstarter news, then you’ve definitely heard of this book and you or your library might already have a copy of it.  In 2012, Ryan North started a Kickstarter campaign to fund this book, and it turned into the #1 most funded publishing project on Kickstarter (full disclosure: I’m one of those many backers, which is how I got my own copy).  In fact, several of the stretch goals included donating copies to schools and libraries, which is why your library may already have a copy.  But if you don’t already have a copy through Kickstarter, it is available to purchase through the usual channels, as well.

To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure would be most appreciated by high school students or adults, since they are most likely to be familiar with the original source material.  Basically, it would be a great book to share with Shakespeare fans, with people who were forced to read Shakespeare in school, and with fans of the choose-your-own-adventure format.

Oh, and I have a brief booktalking note: when I was first writing this booktalk, one of the ideas I had was to read aloud some of the choices that are available in the book.  I decided to go in a different direction, but I still think that it’s a good idea.  So another way that you could approach this booktalk would be to give a brief introduction of the concept of the book, and then read aloud some of the choices in the book (make sure you mark off the pages with page markers or sticky notes first for easier reading!)  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • (p. 11) Go murder your uncle: turn to page 195
  • (p. 36) Show her how non-murderous you are by killing whoever’s behind the curtain: turn to page 294
  • (p. 203) Become a ghost: turn to page 636 / Do not become a ghost: turn to page 633
  • (p. 211) Step from the shadows and introduce yourself dramatically: turn to page 250
  • (p. 251) Turn into a gamma-irradiated monster: turn to page 274
  • (p. 413) Shout “I’m not a murderer!!” then throw the book as hard as you can at Hamlet’s head, tell the court “I regret nothing” and make a break for it: turn to page 421

ETA: As you may have noticed, there are two small issues with this episode.  The first issue is that I left off the opening music, which is entirely my fault (but in my defense I’m still in vacation mode).  The other issue is that my description of this episode isn’t currently showing up in iTunes.  I think it has something to do with a technical issue that the Quick Blogcast gurus are currently trying to resolve.  Anyway … um … onward and upward?


Spoiler Alert: Prince Hamlet learns the identity of his father’s murderer, he seeks revenge, and by the end of the story a LOT of people are dead.

But does the story HAVE to wind up that way?

What if the characters made different choices?  What if Hamlet’s father decided not to come back as a ghost?  Or what if he decided to get his own revenge, rather than making his son do it?  What if Ophelia wanted to confront the ghost herself?  Or what if she decided that dating Hamlet was too much trouble and she just broke up with him instead?  What if Hamlet was so depressed by all his family drama that he decided to kill himself?  Or what if he skipped the whole revenge thing, married Ophelia, and lived happily ever after?

YOU decide what happens next!

Booktalk: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese cover

Here is a short booktalk about a very unique graphic novel that earned a lot of accolades for Gene Luen YangAmerican Born Chinese weaves together realistic and fantastic storylines, and it will make readers aware of Chinese ethnicity and heritage in very unusual ways.


What does it mean to be Chinese?  Does it mean having slanted eyes?  Does it mean having a name your teacher can’t pronounce, or having dumplings in your lunchbox instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Does it mean you’re smarter than everyone else in class?  Does it mean you’re naturally skilled in martial arts?  Does it mean you have a personal connection to the Chinese fable of the Monkey King?

All of these things are possible.  American Born Chinese is a graphic novel that tells three different stories about what it means to be Chinese, what it means to be American, and learning to accept your true identity.

Booktalk: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Several years ago, I found myself in a bind.  A local private school that had never invited me to visit before asked me to come in and address their entire middle school for ten minutes during an assembly.  There was the one part of my brain that said, “Well, my typical presentation lasts about 40 minutes, and it’s most effective if I’m speaking to one or two classes at a time.”  Then there was the other part of my brain that realized that I could give my statistics a huge boost by seeing several hundred students at the same time, and that I COULD hypothetically condense my 40-minute presentation into 10 if I tried hard enough (and cut out a lot of it).

The other big problem was that since I was going to be talking to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students all at once, I either wanted to talk about crossover books that were definitely in both our children’s and young adult collections or children’s books that were cool and popular enough that younger teens would enjoy them.  Because nothing would be crueler than telling these kids about books from the young adult collection knowing that some of them could check them out right away while others might not be able to for another year depending on which box their parents had checked on their library card applications.

So I scoured the shelves of our children’s room looking for books that fit the bill, and I picked two crossover books plus this Wimpy Kid book.  I then skimmed this book really quickly, created a list of major plot points, and voila!  There was my booktalk.  If I left out any of the plot points on my list, either because of time constraints or because I experienced “deer in the headlights” syndrome, it would be okay.  If I got any of those plot points in the wrong order, it would also be okay.  And if worse came to worst, I could just hold up the book and say, “We have lots of Wimpy Kid books at the library!”  Because that would be okay, too.

So I got to the school, found my way to the auditorium, and was told that I actually had FIVE minutes to speak because there were a lot of other things on the agenda.  And then … well, everything after that was kind of a blur, but I think it went okay in the end.

If you’d like to learn more about The Last Straw and the rest of the Wimpy Kid books, then you can visit Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid website.


Greg Heffley has made an important New Year’s resolution.  This year, he’s resolved to help other people improve … because Greg himself is pretty much perfect!  So now Greg is trying to make his mother chew her potato chips more quietly, trying to stop his father from cheating on his diet, and trying to stop his brother Roderick from being such a horrible person.  Unfortunately, it turns out that other people don’t LIKE being told how to improve themselves, so this resolution doesn’t work out too well.

Greg writes about a lot of things in his diary, from that failed New Year’s resolution to a Valentine’s dance where the kids are told they HAVE to dance because it’s going to count as 20% of their PE grade.  Then there was Greg’s single-handed destruction of the soccer team’s perfect record.  And the time that he got a zero on his geography quiz.  And the time that Greg’s little brother Manny invented a gross new nickname for him and wouldn’t stop using it.  And the time that beautiful Holly Hills couldn’t even get his name right.  And the time that Greg’s father said that he wanted to send Greg to military school …

Actually, there are a LOT of things in this diary that Greg Heffley would rather not remember!  But YOU can read all about them in

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney