Category Archives: Funniest Middle Grade Books

WE’RE NOT FROM HERE

WE’RE NOT FROM HERE is the story of a family of humans who immigrate to an alien planet after Earth is destroyed in a nuclear war…only to discover that the aliens who invited them have changed their minds about opening their society to a species that just blew up its own planet.

It’s funny, scary, entertaining, and has a lot to say (metaphorically) about real-world debates over immigration and refugees.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this starred review from Kirkus!

Or this starred review from Publishers Weekly!

Or this very thoughtful review from School Library Journal’s Betsy Bird!

Or these kind words from the award-winning, bestselling, generally amazing Katherine Applegate and Adam Gidwitz:

If you’re a teacher or librarian, there’s a LOT in this book that’s discussion-worthy.

This educator’s guide from Random House has some great suggestions for classroom discussion.

This post at Nerdy Book Club unpacks the reasons why the book’s narrator, Lan Mifune, never reveals their gender or ethnicity over the course of the story.

This interview at MG Book Village has a ton of information about the book’s origins and themes.

If you’d like a physical copy of the educator’s guide, or if you’re interested in a virtual classroom visit via Skype/Zoom/etc., drop me a line!

Want to order the book on line? Check out Indiebound, McNally Jackson, Books of WonderBarnes&Noble, or Amazon.

And click here for news about a possible film adaptation!

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Reluctant Readers, School Librarians, Uncategorized, We're Not From Here | 3 Comments

30 DAYS OF TAPPER TWINS!

It’s just 30 days until the fourth–and ABSOLUTELY BEST (or so I think) Tapper Twins book comes out: THE TAPPER TWINS GO VIRAL!

In honor of the occasion, Claudia Tapper is devoting her Instagram page to 30 days’ worth of new, old, rare, not-so-rare, behind-the-scenes, and in-front-of-the-scenes photos from all four books in the series!

Want a sneak preview? Okay, fine.

Here’s a representative sample of what you can expect over the next month:

 

The real-life models who inspired Claudia and Reese!

Alternate takes for the mean rich lady and her mean rich dog in THE TAPPER TWINS RUN FOR PRESIDENT!

The real-life art director — the fabulously talented Liz Casal — who created the drawings of Claudia and Reese (and everybody else) for all the books!

 

Horrifying full-color photos of the cheese fries Xander Billington stuck up his nose!

The totally awesome Chinatown dim sum place that I couldn’t figure out how to fit into THE TAPPER TWINS TEAR UP NEW YORK!

And because no Tapper Twins retrospective would be complete without him, James Mantolini’s dad! 

Want to see more? Head over to Claudia Tapper’s Instagram page for the full 30 days of fun!

And you’ll want to stick around after that…because starting on April 4th, Claudia will be posting all twenty-one parts of James Mantolini’s horror-comedy video masterpiece, THE FURRY MENACE:

(Don’t worry. That’s a rubber knife. I bought it at a Halloween store for three dollars.)

You’re definitely not going to want to miss THE FURRY MENACE videos. They’re a big part of THE TAPPER TWINS GO VIRAL. And due to technological limitations inherent in the “book” medium, they will not be viewable in the book itself. So Claudia’s Instagram page will be pretty much your only source for that.

(Speaking of THE TAPPER TWINS GO VIRAL…if you want to preorder, click here and scroll down to find the big red preorder buttons for Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Indiebound, etc.)

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Reluctant Readers, School Librarians, Tapper Twins | 2 Comments

The Tapper Twins Run for President Trailer!

And now, a 42-second trailer about a presidential election between a thoughtful, policy-minded female and a guy without a shred of experience who’s constantly spouting off the first thing that comes to his mind:

The really great thing? You can laugh at this one without experiencing a gnawing sense of existential dread for the future of American democracy.

To get your copy of The Tapper Twins Run for President (before or after the September 6th release date), click a link below. Thanks!

Books of Wonder

McNally-Jackson

Powell’s

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Ibooks

Indiebound

 

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Tapper Twins, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Official Tapper Twins Scavenger Hunt!

Thanks to the good people at Little Brown Young Readers, now you can create your very own Tapper-Twins-themed scavenger hunt in your local library and/or bookstore! Just download this handy PDF, print one out for everybody who’s playing, and have at it!

(No purchase necessary. Library and/or bookstore not included.)

TapperTwinsHunt

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Reluctant Readers, Tapper Twins | Leave a comment

Tapper Twins Tales From Times Square!

Tapper_Twins_1and2_coversLike most comic novels for middle graders, the Tapper Twins books are illustrated—but they’re unusual in that most of the illustrations aren’t drawings, but photographs.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag. Even my stick figures look incompetent. And not funny-incompetent. Just incompetent-incompetent.

The second is that the photos work well with the premise: that the books are oral histories compiled by twelve-year-old Claudia Tapper from interviews with her friends. Like most tweens I know, if Claudia wants to visually document something, she pulls out a phone and snaps a pic…like this one of her family’s Upper West Side apartment building:

Tapper_Twins_apartment

When I first had the idea to photo-illustrate the books, I can’t tell you how exciting it was to realize I could compensate for my total lack of artistic talent by using my phone. By then, I was nearly finished writing The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other), so its illustrations came from a hodgepodge of sources—stock images, photos my son and I took around New York, the iconic Alfred Eisenstaedt “V-J Day” photo that I paid WAY too much money to license, and a dozen screenshots from a fictional video game called “MetaWorld,” which may look vaguely familiar to fans of a currently popular game that also begins with “M”:

Tapper_Twins_Metaworld

But in the sequel, The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York (about a scavenger hunt gone horribly awry), Claudia and her friends’ photo-taking is integral to the plot, and staging the photos was almost as important as the actual writing.

Which is how I wound up slugging my friend Trevor while wearing an off-brand Cookie Monster costume in the middle of Times Square:

Times_Square_pic_1

Wait, I missed a couple of steps. Let me back up: at one point in the book, Claudia witnesses a fight between two costumed characters in Times Square—which I wrote into the story partly because it seemed like it’d make for a great series of photos.

Unfortunately, it was also logistically challenging. Here’s a fun fact: did you know it’s cheaper to buy an off-brand Cookie Monster costume than it is to rent one? I now own two. And I no longer have to worry about what I’m going to wear on Halloween for the next decade.

Then there was the issue of who would wear the costumes. Since I planned to take the photos myself, I needed two actors, and my budget didn’t allow me to actually pay anyone. So I recruited my wife and 12-year-old son, primarily because my 10-year-old was too short for the costume, and my 14-year-old adamantly refused to have anything to do with the endeavor.

We headed up to Times Square early on a Sunday morning, and at first it seemed like a fun family outing! Here are my wife and son suiting up in the plaza:

Times_Square_pic_2

Then we started shooting, and the trouble started. It turns out that if you put on a costume in Times Square, tourists will assume you’re there to pose for photos with them. And when they don’t speak English, it’s VERY hard to explain that you’re not that kind of character. In the end, it was less of a hassle to just let them take the photos so they’d quit bugging us:

Times_Square_pic_3

The second—and much more crippling—problem was the actors I’d chosen. It wasn’t just that they barely fit in the costumes. It was that my wife can’t throw a punch, and my 12-year-old’s attitude was terrible. He was convinced someone he knew was going to see him, despite our pointing out that A) he was unrecognizable as anything but a knockoff Cookie Monster, and B) nobody who actually lives in New York EVER goes to Times Square unless they absolutely have to, and certainly never on a Sunday morning. So my kid spent the entire shoot standing motionless like a statue, with muffled moans of “Can we stop now?” emanating from underneath his giant blue head as my wife poked him with the lamest fake punches I’ve ever seen:

Times_Square_pic_4

So I had to reshoot. Fortunately, my friend Trevor is not only game for just about anything, but works near Times Square—and so does Trevor’s wife’s equally game cousin, Jesse, who agreed to take the photos while Trevor and I went at each other. We convened at 8:00am on a Thursday and got a bunch of great shots, including this one capturing the stunned reaction of some guy on his way to work:

Times_Square_pic_5

Unfortunately, we had to wrap up early when a deranged loiterer chased us from the square while threatening us with ACTUAL violence, as opposed to the fake version we were staging. But that’s a story for another time…and probably a less kid-friendly web site, because the things he was yelling at us were pretty inappropriate.

Hope you like The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York! And if you visit Times Square, keep an eye out for deranged loiterers! It’s a lot safer than it used to be…but it’s still Times Square.

Tapper_Twins_meme

(Many thanks to the good people at Nerdy Book Club, where this post originally appeared.)

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Tapper Twins | 1 Comment

The Tapper Twins Guide to the Wildlife of New York City!

Claudia and Reese’s latest video is a helpful guide to New York City’s vast array of exotic, glamorous, and occasionally disgusting wildlife: pigeons, rats, cockroaches, celebrities, Times Square cartoon characters…et cetera.

Check it out below! With many, many thanks to the extremely talented Adrian Palacios and everybody else at Little Brown who helped make this so awesome:

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Reluctant Readers, Tapper Twins | 2 Comments

What’s That Clinging To The Bottom Of the NYT Bestseller List?

You have to squint to see it…but it’s there. Yay!

Many, many thanks to everyone at Little Brown Young Readers, without whose heroic efforts this never would’ve happened — especially Andrea Spooner, Liz Casal, Megan Tingley, Andrew Smith, Melanie Chang, Emilie Polster, Lisa Moraleda, Russ Busse, Deirdre Jones, Victoria Stapleton, Kristin Dulaney, Allegra Green, Adrian Palacios, and anybody else I forgot…

NYT list May 10 2015 (1)

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Tapper Twins | Leave a comment