Martha Speaks Funny Bones Jokes and Riddles

Written by Karen Barss

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Martha Speaks Funny Bone Jokes and Riddles, written by Karen Barss and based on the characters created by the talented Susan Meddaugh for the Public Broadcasting Service for Kids (PBS Kids) Martha the Talking Dog series, is aimed at readers at the second grade reading level. With the exception of three jokes, the book consists of twenty plus jokes and riddles, as well as a matching game that revolve primarily around dogs in one form or another. The humor is tastefully appropriate for young readers and is consistent throughout the joke book. Most of the jokes and riddles are a play on words common to the subject of canines and that are familiar to young children. A good example of this is:

Question: How does Martha stop the DVD player?

Answer: She presses the “paws” button!


Another example of the kind of humor readers can expect to see is as follows:

Question: What kind of dog does Dracula have?

Answer: A bloodhound


With a canine on nearly every page the jokes and riddles are displayed in a colorful, comic-book-like layout that will appeal to children at the second grade reading level. Kids are sure to laugh out loud and re-read the jokes to share with their family and friends. Funny Bone Jokes and Riddles is an ideal hard cover book for librarians and teachers to carry on their book shelves for reluctant readers, as well as fans of the PBS Kids Martha the Talking Dog series due to the familiarity of its characters.


  • Martha FunnyTitle: Martha Speaks Funny Bones Jokes and Riddles
  • Author: Karen Barss
  • Illustrator: Based on PBS characters created by Susan Meddaugh
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0547-865775
  • Genre: Games/Jokes

The Emancipation Proclamation: Would You Do What Lincoln Did?

Written by Elaine Landau

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Anyone who has seen the movie Lincoln or studied the 16th president’s time in office knows that Abraham Lincoln was president during the darkest and most difficult days of American history. Lincoln saw his country torn in two over the issue of slavery and faced the almost impossible task of waging war on his own people, while trying to pass legislation that many people disliked. One of Lincoln’s greatest, yet most difficult accomplishments, was passing the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. Would You Do What Lincoln Did? takes readers on a journey with President Lincoln and gives them a first-hand look at the problems he faced.

Would You Do What Lincoln Did? begins with an attention-grabbing description of violence as it describes how a mob broke into a warehouse, destroyed a printing press, and killed its abolitionist owner. From there, the book goes into a careful and detailed explanation of slavery, abolitionism, and other hot issues of the day before going on to describe President Lincoln’s efforts to rid the United States of slavery and unite the country during the Civil War. What sets this book apart from other history books is a page at the end of each chapter that asks the reader, “What would you do?” and presents a series of options. This page is followed by the next chapter, which begins by saying, “This is what happened.” This format is a wonderful way to involve the reader and make him or her think about what was going on 250 years ago and how different choices could have changed history. I can see teachers and students engaged in lively classroom discussions as they ponder the choices Lincoln faced!

I highly recommended this book for any second-grade classroom in need of a great way to present a vital chapter in American history. The book is well-organized, detailed, and appealing to readers, with plenty of action and personal detail. Despite the wealth of information, the text is easy for second graders to read and understand. Period photographs, paintings, and newspaper reprints provide an up-close “you are there” feeling to the book that is sure to keep readers’ attention. The book also includes a timeline, a glossary, a list of books and websites with more information, and a detailed index. This is an excellent choice for a book report or history project. The book could also be used as the basis of a reading worksheet or history enrichment lesson. It’s a great choice for independent reading by strong readers but would also work as a classroom read-aloud that is sure to spark discussion as the students ponder what they would do in Lincoln’s place.

  • EmancipationTitle: The Emancipation Proclamation: Would You Do What Lincoln Did?
  • Author: Elaine Landau
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, 2008
  • Reviewer: Joanne Mattern
  • Hardback: 48 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-59845-194-8
  • Genre: History

Let’s Meet a Dentist

Written by Bridget Heos
Illustrated by Kyle Poling

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A trip to the dentist is something every child has to endure, and it can often be a frightening experience. What are those shiny tools the dentist pokes in your mouth? Why does he count your teeth? What is an x-ray? Does it hurt to get a filling? Children have all these questions and more. Many children are frightened of the dentist, but dental hygiene is an important part of keeping your body healthy. That’s why books that explain and reassure children about dental visits are an vital and valuable resource. Let’s Meet a Dentist is an engaging and informative look at this important topic.

Let’s Meet a Dentist follows a class on a field trip to the dentist. The book starts with the narrator stating, “Our class is on a mission! We want to find out what a dentist does.” From this attention-grabbing introduction, we go along with the class as they meet Dr. Florez, find out what equipment she uses and why, and get information on how to keep teeth clean and healthy, what it’s really like to fill a cavity, and what braces and retainers do. The information is presented in two ways on each colorfully illustrated page. The child narrator tells most of the story in a lively, kid-friendly tone. Meanwhile, boxed text on each page provides facts about topics mentioned in the main text.

Let’s Meet a Dentist is a lively and fun choice for a second-grade library. The tone of the book is very appealing, and both the narration and the chapter titles grab young readers’ attention and make the book fun to explore. The bright art is also eye-catching and appealing. The reading level is simple enough for second graders to read the book independently, while the book could also appeal to younger students or reluctant readers as a classroom read-aloud. A glossary in the back of the book provides vocabulary words that could easily be incorporated into a reading worksheet. Additional back matter includes a healthy snack recipe, a list of related books and Websites, an index, and a link to additional online educational resources. We give Let’s Go to the Dentist a perfect checkup!

  • Lets Meet a DentistTitle: Let’s Meet a Dentist
  • Author: Bridget Heos
  • Illustrator: Kyle Poling
  • Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2013
  • Hard Back: 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-9029-9
  • Genre: Science/Health

How Do Jets Work?

Written by Buffy Silverman

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It’s pretty amazing to see a jet up close. How do these huge planes get off the ground, much less fly? How fast do they go? What scientific principles allow these machines to zoom through the air like giant birds? How Do Jets Work? explores this topic in a straightforward way that will satisfy young readers’ curiosity.

How Do Jets Work? opens with a jet backing out of the gate at the airport. From there the book takes readers on a step-by-step exploration of how the plane is prepared for takeoff. In Chapter 2, the text continues to follow the plane, this time explaining the mechanics of how air is pulled into the engine and burns fuel, giving the jet enough power to leave the ground and soar into the sky. The book explains lift, drag, and other aerodynamic principles in simple terms second-grade readers (and even younger children) will grasp easily. Finally, the books follows the plane as it lands, again providing clear explanations of what happens and why. The book closes with a labeled drawing of a jet, some fun facts, a glossary, index, and list of books for further reading. A link to additional online educational resources is also provided.

How Do Jets Work? is a terrific choice for any young reader who is curious about flight. The text is simple and straightforward, making this is great choice for independent reading on the second-grade level. Bright color photographs and easy-to-read captions help make this a great choice for reading aloud as well. In addition, the book is a great starting point for class projects, book reports, or science explorations. Any classroom or school library would benefit from this excellent book.

  • How Do Jets WorkTitle: How Do Jets Work?
  • Author: Buffy Silverman
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group, 2013
  • Reviewer:  Joanne Mattern
  • Hardback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-8967-5
  • Genre: Science

Figuring Out Fossils

Written by Sally M. Walker

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The past is a fascinating place. I’ve always been amazed at what scientists can figure out from fossils and other archaeological clues. Many children share my sense of wonder and amazement. Figuring Out Fossils (part of Lerner’s cleverly named new series, Do You Dig Earth Science?) is a great way for second-grade readers to explore these artifacts from long ago.

Figuring Out Fossils starts with a basic question: What Are Fossils? From there the book explains everything you need to know about fossils, including what they are, how they form, where they are found, and how scientists use them to learn about the past. Along the way, readers will learn amazing facts, such as even footprints can become fossils, or that ice can preserve not just ancient bones, but fur, skin, and muscles as well. The book is illustrated with stunning photographs that show readers close-ups of fossils, along with views of complete reconstructed skeletons and scientists working in the field. This is a well-researched, well-written, and appealing book.

I highly recommended Figuring Out Fossils for any second-grade classroom. The book is well-organized, with each chapter focused on a specific topic and clear chapter titles to direct readers to the information they’re looking for. A diagram of fossil formation is a valuable resource, and the book also includes a glossary, a list of books and websites with more information, an index, and a link to additional online educational resources.

Figuring Out Fossils will benefit students and teachers in many ways. It is a great resource for a classroom library, as well as a good choice for a book report or science project. Teachers will find it easy to create reading, vocabulary, or science worksheets from this book. Eager readers will appreciate the easy-to-understand and straightforward text, the terrific photos, and the wealth of fascinating information. This is a great choice for any teacher or student looking to learn more about fossils and the journey back in time that they take us on.

  • Figuring Out FossilsTitle: Figuring Out Fossils
  • Author: Sally M. Walker
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group, 2013
  • Reviewer: Joanne Mattern
  • Hardback: 40 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-4677-0019-1
  • Genre: Science

Rosie’s Magic Horse

Written by Russell Hoban

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

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An ice-pop stick thinks there is more for him than to be thrown away.  And he is right.  A girl named Rosie picks him up and adds him to her ice-pop stick collection.  The old sticks feel like there is nothing left for them but to live in Rosie’s old cigar box.  But the new stick dares them to dream, to try something different.  “What,” they challenge him.  Be a horse is the first thing the stick thinks of.  Meanwhile, back at Rosie’s house, her parents are worried about paying their bills and that makes Rosie worry, too.  She fashions her sticks into a horse shape and, at the stroke of midnight, the horse comes alive.  She asks the horse to help her get some treasure.  They ride off on an adventure that involves a mountain of ice-pops and pirates.  After a harrowing (and delicious) escape, Rosie brings home a chest of gold to help Mum and Dad pays the bills.  And the sticks take a well-deserved nap.

Well-known collaborators Russell Hoban, author, and Quentin Blake, illustrator, successfully team up again with this unique picture book.  There are so many metaphors that this is one of those picture books that could be used with older students to teach literary devices.  The pen and watercolor illustrations are filled with Blake’s trademark humor.  The text could be adapted to a skit or reader’s theatre as a literacy activity, but the illustrations make it an ideal class read aloud.  This seems to be Hoban’s last book because he died in 2011, making Rosie’s Magic Horse even more a treasure.

  • Rosies Magic HorseTITLE: Rosie’s Magic Horse
  • AUTHOR: Russell Hoban
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Quentin Blake
  • PUBLISHER: Candlewick
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6400-8
  • GENRE: Picture book, magic realism, adventure

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever-or Snack time?

Written by Tammi Sauer 

Illustrated by Micheal Slack

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Nugget is a minnow and Fang is a shark…. And how in the world can they be friends? This delightful story for younger readers is a tale of fear and of friendship. Minnow thinks Fang is the very best until he goes to school and learns that minnows are food for sharks. Now what in the world will he do without his best friend? And why do the others think he should be afraid?

The author does a wonderful job with few words introducing both math concepts for first and second grade readers and fun science facts too. Younger children will enjoy the story if read aloud and will quickly learn to read this fun story independently.

The bright and colorful illustrations make this story an exciting book to add to the classroom library. With both science and math concepts along with some life lessons on friendship and being different, this book gives teachers many opportunities to use this book as a springboard for other discussions and activities in the first grade classroom.

Teachers and parents will love the way the book makes reading comprehension a breeze for first and second grade readers. The simple words, diagrams, and illustrations lend themselves to fun and engaging the reader from the first page.  Students may even want to try their hand at writing and illustrating their own stories of friendship using math and science to make their story shine.

You can find more about this author at   Visit Michael Slack at

  • NuggetTitle: Nugget & Fang:  Friends Forever-or Snack time?
  • Author: Tammi Sauer
  • Illustrator: Michael Slack
  • Picture Book
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Pages: 32

Two Shy Pandas

Written by Julia Jarman
Illustrated by Susan Varley

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A sweet rhyming picture book with endearing characters, Two Shy Pandas addresses a common fear for young children: making friends. Two young pandas live next door to one another. Each saw the other out playing by themselves. Each wanted to ask the other to play. Each could not get the courage to approach the other. But each was very aware of the other one especially when Pandora wanted to seesaw or to bounce her ball. Then one day it snowed and Panda made lots of snowballs. He saw that he couldn’t play with snowballs by himself so he tossed one over the fence. But Pandora wasn’t there! He began to worry if she was sick or if she had gone away. After being inside for a while, Pandora worried too that she hadn’t seen Panda. As they worried about each other, they both decided to find out what was going on and bumped into each other. After learning that each panda was still there and not sick, they became the best of friends, playing together long after the snow was gone.
The text is very kid-friendly, having an easy enough reading level that second graders can read it themselves, perhaps making their own audio book as a literacy activity or a book to read to a younger book buddy. It would be a valuable class read aloud as part of a Character Counts unit, touching on most of the pillars of character. Students will be drawn in by the panda characters because they are so likeable and easy to relate to due to both the illustrations and the storytelling.

  • Two Shy PandasTITLE: Two Shy Pandas
  • AUTHOR: Julia Jarman
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Susan Varley
  • PUBLISHER: Andersen/Lerner, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-1-4677-1141-8
  • GENRE: Picture Book

Till Death Do Us Bark

Written by Kate Klise

Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

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This is book three in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. Book one introduced the readers to the main characters – a family that is two-thirds human (Iggy and Seymour) and one-third ghost (Olive). This book adds a perpetually barking dog named Secret to the mix. Does Secret hold the secret to the mystery of the vanished fortune?

We’ll find out. The author has strewn puns along the way for a fun-filled ride. It starts with the  names of the characters:  M. Balm, Fay Tality, Shirley U. Jest, Mac Awbrah, Mike Ondolences, Kay Daver – in this list of ghastly names Seymor is the only ray of hope! The editor is Cliff Hangar, Rita O’Bitt is the Attorney-at-Law (what a hit that is). Grown-ups will enjoy the book as much as second grade readers will.

The story is told through a series of letters and newspaper articles lavishly illustrated with black-and-white line drawings that add to the fun, and enrich the reading experience.

Noah Breth’s will is poetry in the form of three limericks that point to where his fortune now resides.

And that’s when this very rich man

Decided he needed a plan

To make sense of his wealth

While still in good health

Now go find it if you can.

How readers will enjoy solving the mystery! Of course some of the clues may require deciphering the pun, reading the word in all its meanings. A great opportunity to improve reading skills.

Noah knows his children well and his lesson to them is gently delivered. No spoiler here, but small coins keep turning up all over town. “I wanted to remind people that sometimes small change can be extremely valuable.”

Enough with the puns already! Let us scatter Noah Breth’s ashes over County Limerick, Ireland, (as he desires) and wait with baited breath for the next book in this punny, funny, groan-inducing, roll-your-eyes-till you almost lose them series. Happy Reading.

Additional Resources:

Interview with Kate and M. Sarah Klise:


Kate Klise’s Top Ten Tips for Becoming a Bestselling Writer:

Sarah Klise’s Top Seven Drawing and Writing Tips:

  • Till DeathTitle: Till Death Do Us Bark
  • Author: Kate Klise
  • Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Paperback:  123 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-85081-8
  • Genre: Fiction/Humor

Cheer Up, Mouse!

Written and Illustrated by Jed Henry

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This book is about Mouse, who appears to be very sad.  Animals from all over the forest decide that they will go to great lengths to cheer him up.  Bird decides to cheer him up by picking him up in the air, dipping and diving with him, while Frog splashes and paddles in the water with him.  The other animals in the story also go out of their way to try to make Mouse happy, finally eliciting a hug at the end of the story from Mouse to all his friends.

What a great story for teachers to use as a read aloud for second graders to encourage friendship and helping one another!  It would be great for character education for the classroom, as this story is full of compassion and the illustrations definitely highlight this.  Children will love the adorable pictures of the animals.  Looking at the illustrations can’t help but make you smile as you read the story.  This is sure to be an uplifting mood elevator for all who read this.

This story would also be great to use in the classroom to teach adjectives, as it talks about the animals in the story flapping, fluttering, dipping, and diving.

This book is written by Jed Henry, who is a New York Times best-selling illustrator as well, and has written and illustrated this book.  Jed has always had a passion for animals, which is the inspiration behind the book.  He lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Provo, Utah.

  • Cheer Up MouseTitle:  Cheer Up, Mouse!
  • Author and illustrator:  Jed Henry
  • Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
  • Reviewer:  Rebecca L. Wagner
  • Hardback:  29 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-547-68107-8
  • Genre:  Fiction/Animals/Character education
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