Humor books for fifth graders

Your kid can get surreal with tales of David Letterman fandom and cows that make lemonade.

By GreatSchools Staff

The Canning Season

The Canning Season by Polly Horvath (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003)
$7.95, Amazon / IndieBound Powells

Ratchet loves her selfish mother but receives little in return. Without warning or luggage of any sort, Ratchet’s mother ships her to Maine to spend the summer with two elderly relatives. Tilly and Penpen are nonidentical twins who are tremendously eccentric; they are also kind and generous. A laugh-aloud, farcical story evolves from this unlikely premise. Winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Children’s Literature. 208 pages.

— Parents’ Choice

The Pepins and Their Problems

The Pepins and Their Problems by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Marylin Hafner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2004)
$6.99, Amazon / IndieBound / Powells

Whether it’s waking up to find toads in their shoes or searching for cheese when their cow makes lemonade, the Pepin family’s endless tangles entertain readers. Lucky for the Pepins they have the author, whose insight into their hilarious misfortunes helps guide them in their problem solving. 192 pages.

— Children’s Choices

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade by Kenneth Derby (Holiday House, 2004)
$16.95, Amazon / IndieBound Powells

Tony Baloney is obsessed with David Letterman and determined to be a guest on his show. This fast-paced, action-packed story is sure to keep young readers amused — top 10 lists and all! 144 pages.

Children’s Choices

What Would Joey Do?

What Would Joey Do? by Jack Gantos (HarperTrophy, 2004)
$5.99, Amazon / IndieBound / Powells

Now that Joey’s divorced mom has a new boyfriend, his dad has returned to town to buzz their house on his roaring motorcycle. The fact that his own sick, elderly mother is living with Joey and his ex-wife doesn’t deter him at all. When Joey’s mom sends him to be homeschooled with a bratty blind girl with a religious mother whose motto is “What would Jesus do?” Joey adopts this motto — with his own modifications. While the premise of Joey’s story — no allies except a small dog and a sick old lady — is harsh, the book is hilarious. 240 pages.

— Parents’ Choice