Tag Archives: Diary of a wimpy kid read alike

Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill

darcyburdock

Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill.

Paperback, 278 pages
Published 2013 by Random House Children’s Publishing

From the publisher:

Introducing Darcy Burdock, a new, cool, all-conquering girl character with a fresh and distinctive take on the world.

Ten-year-old Darcy is one of life’s noticers. Curious, smart-as-a-whip, funny and fiercely loyal, she sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her.

Written and illustrated by Laura Dockrill: author, poet & performer – think Lady Gaga meets Mother Goose.

Book back cover:

My name is Darcy, I see the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around me. This is my first book. One day it will be read by people like you. In this book you will find out: How to calm an Angrosaurus Rex with some Maltesers; Running away with a reluctant pet lamb in tow leads to some sore kneebows; Baby brothers LOVE being dressed up as girls (they don’t, they prefer zombie snakes).

What did I think about this book?

The build up prior to publication of this book was huge.  Singer Adele gave this the big thumbs up by being quoted on the cover “The world is lucky to be invited into the colourful imagination of my favorite person! You’re going to have fun!”…and from Vogue:  “Everyone is falling for Laura Dockrill“.

One of my favourite and most trusted kid-lit book reviewers, had this to say…”Britain finally has an answer to Jeff Kinney and his Wimpy Kid! Many have tried, but few have come close in my opinion, but come next March the trials and tribulations of Greg Heffley will be consigned to bargain bins in book stores across the UK. There will only be one name on everyone’s lips, and that is Darcy Burdock...” Cor blimey – high praise indeed!

I am always on the look out for anything that remotely smacks of being similar to Diary of a wimpy kid by Jeff Kinney. Wimpy Kid is probably the most requested title/series in my library with students from Years 3-6 all clamouring for it on a daily basis. In order to keep kids reading, a librarian or teacher has to feed them with similar material to keep them enthused about reading. I absolutely had to buy this based on the recommendations above – and so I preordered this well before the publication date. It arrived, I read it and I suddenly wished it hadn’t been hyped quite so much. It set the bar so high and I just didn’t feel this book reached it. Darcy is a strong character and a good example of how it is great to be different and have your own voice, but I didn’t find this lived up to the claims of knocking Diary of a Wimpy Kid of it’s thoroughly deserved pedestal.

There will be kids that will like and probably love this book and so I will happily add it to my collection of Diary of a wimpy kid read-alikes. I am interested to see how popular this is with my students and if they think it is as fabulous as the pre publication reviews suggested.

Some of the books/series I do like to recommend for fans of Diary of a wimpy kid by Jeff Kinney:

  • Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
  • Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
  • I am not a loser by Barry Loser
  • The world of Norm by Jonathan Meres
  • The Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
  • Middle School is worse than meatloaf by Jennifer Holm
  • Timmy Failure : mistakes were made by Stephan Pastis
  • Diary of a cricket god by Shamini Flint
  • Ted goes wild by Michael Wagner
  • Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
  • My life as a book by Janet Tashian

Megawocka! Granny Samurai : the Monkey King and I – by John Chambers

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Granny Samurai, the Monkey King and I  by John Chambers. Published by Walker Books, 2013. Paperback 2013. RRP NZ $17.95.

From the publisher:

Granny Samurai is small and dangerous to know. Her teeth are false and so is one of her legs. Her walking stick conceals a double-action repeater, of which there are only two in the world. She has other weapons too, which I am not at liberty to reveal. What I can reveal is contained within the pages of this book. My name is Samuel Johnson. This is our story.

Eccentric young wordsmith Samuel Johnson finds himself home alone while his diplomat uncle is off diverting a crisis in Azerbaijan. As Samuel sits penning his memoirs and wondering how to divert the crisis in his own life – namely the big, hairy brute that is Boris Hissocks – he spots the little old lady next door acting very strangely. Is she actually chopping wood with her bare hands? Then the Monkey King comes knocking, and suddenly Samuel’s whole world is turned on its head…

What do I think of this book!

It’s brilliant!

The story, the humor, the illustrations – what is not to like, in fact LOVE about this book?

This is a book that is difficult to categorise, it’s adventure and fantasy, with shades of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney), Mr Gum (Andy Stanton) and Ratburger (David Walliams)and episodes of the 1970s show “kung fu” (with Granny taking the place of the Kung fu master) rolled into one. I enjoyed reading this as an adult and could imagine so many of my students getting a giant kick out of this too. Kids 8-9+ will just have to read this and see what they think as I would struggle to talk about the twists and turns in the plot and give it the credit it deserves in a book talk without giving away all “the good bits”. Some kids may struggle with understanding some of the words, but for those kids this would make a great shared read or read aloud – although in my opinion it would be a shame to listen to the very funny and clever text without the opportunity to explore the illustrations, even though the story can stand without them.  Granny generally steals the show – she gives Samuel and the readers the sense that he (and they) just needs to listen, do what he is told and go along with things and all will be revealed…which it is, but occasionally Granny needs to explain a bit more and when she does elaborate, it results in some very funny dialogue.

I love the way it’s written (scribed!) by Samuel – it is written as a narrative journal and the chapters are short. Everything about this book gets a big tick from me: the cover – it will stand out on the shelf; the superb illustrations with an oriental flavour on nearly every page (there is a wealth of small details in these that will mean reluctant readers might pause ever-so-slightly, take a break from the text to explore them before leaping back into the text). Because this is so funny and so brilliantly done, I would encourage some of my reluctant readers to try this…some  might struggle with some of the words and will need help as for many of these boys the vocabulary won’t pass the ‘five finger rule’, but I would encourage them to try this anyway; lastly I adore the author’s obvious enthusiasm for language, vocabulary and writing. Very, very clever, original and loads of fun!

Author website: grannysamurai.com (it is under development… but go there and see a wonderful illustration from the author)

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