Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers

By John Dougherty

From the back cover

Welcome to the kingdom of Great Kerfuffle!

Great Kerfuffle is really great. And there’s usually a kerfuffle (the clue’s in the name really). This particular kerfuffle started the day Stinkbomb’s twenty dollar bill went missing. Stinkbomb and his little sister Ketchup-Face know exactly who took it: the badgers. After all, they’re called badgers because they do bad things; otherwise they’d just be gers.

They bring news of the badgers’ treachery to King Toothbrush Weasel (don’t get us started on the story behind his name…), who sends them on a quest to rid the land of badgers. What follows is a full on kerfuffle-fest, containing: one deep dark forest, a grocery cart in distress, a song about jam-and, of course, a band of very tricky badgers.

Be prepared to laugh your socks off, and maybe your ears, too.

My thoughts…

This was a very funny, cute read. The plot goes in many random directions while maintaining a light, silly atmosphere. As an adult, I am not ashamed to say that I found myself giggling sometimes while reading it.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None

Violence

None

Profanity

Ketchup-Face calls her brother an idiot and a “stupid frog-flavored envelope” in chapter 21.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

None

Positive messages

A nice big brother-little sister relationship is portrayed where they go on a silly adventure and work towards the same goal.

Final Verdict

The funny, easy-to-read nature of the book makes it a great choice for reluctant readers and young children in general.

Jaden Toussaint, The Greatest. Episode 1: The Quest For Screen Time

By Marti Dumas

From the back cover

GIANT AFRO. EVEN BIGGER BRAIN.

Jaden Toussaint is a five year-old who knows it all I mean, really knows it all. Animal Science. Great Debater. Master of the art of ninja dancing. There’s nothing Jaden Toussaint can’t do. The only problems is that grown-ups keep trying to convince him that, even though he’s really smart, he doesn’t know EVERYTHING. The thing is…he kind of does.

This time our hero must use all his super-powered brain power to convince the grown-ups that he needs more screen time.

My thoughts…

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest. Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time is the first book in the Jaden Toussaint series. This is a very nice story starring a five-year-old with an Afro. His whole family loves to read and he loves to go on adventures. He never gives up on his dreams and knows exactly how to achieve his goals. Children up to 8 years old would find this book entertaining and inspirational.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None.

Violence

None.

Profanity

None.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None.

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

A quick mention that Jaden’s sister likes to read books on Greek gods.

Positive messages

Jaden is a smart five-year-old who is discovering life. In this first book of the series he discovers the fascination of screen time and becomes adamant on gaining permission from his parents to use the computer/TV/or phone. The book mentions different things that he learned while on his father’s phone for the first time. He works on different plans until he gains his parents’ respect and permission for some monitored screen time along the way.

Final Verdict

Children and parents alike would find Jaden’s persistence, scientific observation, and data collection both, appealing and inspirational. Children would easily relate to Jaden’s character and his cute charisma.

Flat Stanley

By Jeff Brown

From the back cover

Life in the Flat Lane
When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling.
A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the nigh, and now he is only have an inch thick!
Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to help catch two dangerous art thieves. He may be flat, but he’s a hero!

My thoughts…

What a better way to teach children to accept their appearances and turn negatives into positives than reading the story of Flat Stanley? After he wakes to find himself completely flattened out, Stanley finds ways to make good use of his new shape and helps those around him. This book is great in teaching children to be comfortable with whoever and however they are.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None

Violence

A large bulletin board falls on Stanley causing him to flatten out.

Profanity

None

Smoking/Intoxicants

None

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

– The bulletin board that falls on Stanley is said to have been a Christmas present from their parents.
– Stanley dresses as a girl for disguise to imitate an old painting but he states that he does not like it.
– The book contains a picture of a painting with half man half horse and babies flying around with wings (depicting angels), Stanley refers to them ad “fat babies” though.
– The family toasts with hot chocolate for the little brother for returning Stanley to his original shape.

Final Verdict

This book contains minor non-Islamic concepts but overall sends an important message to children to accept how they are and to transform their weaknesses into strengths.

Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 (Book 11)

By Dav Pilkey

 

From the back cover

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO FLUSH…

The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite… for REVENGE! Luckily, the fate of humanity is once again in the hands of George and Harold and their annoying nemesis Melvin Sneedly. Will Wedgie Power prevail? Or will the amazing Captain Underpants be flushed away forever?

My thoughts…

Captain Underpants is the most banned book in schools by parents and teachers in America. However, I have seen books of this series in almost every 3rd-5th grade student’s hands. Kids find them funny, silly, and interesting and many parents are encouraged to purchase them for their reluctant readers. I have read numerous reviews on this book before writing my own and I found that adults either really love it or they really hate it. I am not surprised. Here’s a breakdown of the contents of this book in the series:

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None except at the end there is a subtle mention of animals mating, the kids scream out “eeeww” and one of the children questions “how could a mammal mate with a reptile?” Only to be met with more “eeww’s” from the other kids. This is all that is mentioned though.

Violence

There are countless scenes of cartoon violence. The violence is mostly of Captain Underpants fighting with a giant toilet.

Profanity

Mild language including the words idiot, dumb, and the word fat was directed to the robot.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

– Captain Underpants books have been banned from many schools because parents and teachers believe that the stories encourage young children to disobey and insult authority figures, especially school authority.
– The school teachers and principal are portrayed as evil and heartless bullies.
– The boys prank their school staff and trick them into believing that they were living a dream and we suddenly find the whole school running around in their underwear (Chapters 23 and 24 see pictures below). They all get arrested and sent to jail for this behaviour.
– A school staff pulls down a police officer’s pants in chapter 24, however she gets punished for that with jail time.
– The school principal suddenly gains superpowers while wearing underpants and a cape.
– There are many drawings of rear ends in this book
– Melvin is portrayed as the saviour, the book states that “Whenever anybody needed help, all they had to do was lift their heads to the sky and cry out ‘YO! Big Melvin!’ And Big Melvin would drop whatever he was doing and zip to the scene and save the day”. This falls under the same ideologies as seeking help from a superhuman, like Superman, or any creation instead of the Creator, instead, children should be taught to lift up their heads and cry out “Ya Allah!”.
– There’s an illustration of a boy kicking a monster in his private area.
– There are two pages of this book where Captain Underpants is drawn spanking a robot on it’s human-like rear end (Chapter 29, see picture at the bottom of this review)

Final Verdict

This book contains parts that are supposedly written by the two boys, George and Harold. These parts of the book contain terribly misspelled words (like “prinsiple” instead of “principal”, “blackmale” instead of “blackmail”, “hipnitized” for “hypnotized” to name a few) which made me wonder about the type of influence this would have on a beginner reader’s writing and reading abilities. The book also includes made up words like “evilly” and “superherodom”.

Captain Underpants books have been banned from many schools in the United States for understandable reasons. I have pointed out all the controversial points in the above breakdown and I leave it up to the parents and guardians to decide whether they feel the books will have a negative influence on their children or not.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

By Stephan Pastis

 

From the back cover

“MY NAME IS FAILURE. TIMMY FAILURE. I AM THE FOUNDER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE BEST DETECTIVE AGENCY IN TOWN, PROBABLY IN THE WORLD. TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE IS A HISTORICAL RECORD OF MY LIFE AS A DETECTIVE. IT HAS BEEN RIGOROUSLY FACT-CHECKED. ALL THE DRAWINGS IN HERE ARE BY ME. I TRIED TO GET MY BUSINESS PARTNER TO DO THE ILLUSTRATIONS, BUT THEY WERE NOT GOOD.”
Take Timmy Failure—the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of a budding investigative empire. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Of course, his plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn’t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into “Stanfurd” that he can’t carry out a no-brain spy mission. Or Molly Moskins, who smells like a tangerine and is crazy about Timmy, making her his obvious (and only) prime suspect.

In a gist…

I personally am uncomfortable with this type of children’s books. The mere concept of glorification of school failures makes me very eerie. Timmy Failure has a GPA of 0.6, according to him, and he is completely satisfied with his performance and sometimes takes pride in it. His main focus is his detective work which, comically, he is terrible at. If your child must read this book, please keep the following points in mind when you are discussing the book with him/her:

Extramarital Love/Relationships

Chapter 35: We’re introduced to a man his mom is dating.
Chapter 42: His female classmate is in love with him and hugs and kisses him while he tries to push her away

Violence

Chapter 36: As a figure of speech, Timmy tells his friend to burn their classmate’s backpack to sanitize the room.
Chapter 54: Timmy takes the car keys from his mother’s boyfriend telling them that he will be bringing picnic supplies from the car while planning to drive it into his classmate’s house. He turns the ignition on but his mom finds him before he moves the car.
Chapter 55: An accident occurs where Timmy is in a car by himself and the car speeds downhill and crashes into a house. No injuries occur though, just a damaged house and car.

Profanity

None other than vague descriptions of other characters like referring to one kid as “round” for being chubby, making reference to a girl’s pupils being different sizes, and his teacher being smelly and bent over “like he’s got a sack of potatoes hanging from his forehead”.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

Chapter 2: Timmy uses his mom’s Segway despite her telling him not to without her knowledge. “Never. Ever. Ever.” She said “i thought that was vague. So i use it. so far, she hasn’t objected. Mostly because she doesn’t know.” He continues to comment that his main principle is to “keep [his] mom in [the] dark”

Chapters 3&4: Failure, as his name implies, is a failure at school with a GPA of 0.6 who is not interested in studying and vows to never be like the geeky kid who studies and has a 4.6 GPA. Is that the type of example you want for your children to be reading about? He is funny, and has aspirations of building a global detective agency, could this motivate your children to drop out of school and aim towards far-fetched dreams?

Chapter 23: Timmy lies to his mother about the disappearance of her Segway to get himself out of trouble

Chapter 36: Timmy goes through his classmate’s backpack without her knowledge and takes her “Detective Log”