A Bad Case of the Giggles
Edited by: Bruce Lansky
Illustrated by: Stephen Carpenter
Published in 1994
Genre: Poetry, Humor
Grade Level: 1-5
Summary: A Bad Case of the Giggles is an anthology of funny poems for children covering a variety of topics. According to the editor, the poems were narrowed down to “the very best” by teachers and children from a list of hundreds of poems.
Cover: The book I have is hard cover and very sturdy. The colors are bright and eye-catching. The fonts match the book and are easy to read. The back cover has a short summary, reviews, and a short biography of Bruce Lansky (the editor).
Illustrations: I loved the illustrations in this book.They were interesting and gave context to the poems. One poem, “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” by Jack Prelutsky, uses the illustration of an ice cream parlor to display part of the poem. Most of this particular poem is made up of silly ice cream flavors, which are listed on a board similar to what you would see in a real ice cream parlor.
All of the illustrations in this book are in black and white, which balances them with the poems quite nicely. The one negative about the illustrations in this book is that there is very little diversity in the characters. Almost all of the children and adults shown in the book are white.
The Good: First of all, as a child I hated poetry, with the exception of the Shel Silverstein books. His poems were the only ones I would willingly read, so seeing a book of funny poetry for kids really caught my eye. This book currently goes with me in my bag whenever I substitute and the kids love it. Whenever I have a few minutes to fill I read a couple poems, and time permitting, I call on students to pick a poem to read to the class. In that regard, this book is a life saver! A book like this can inspire kids to read more and even to create their own poetry or stories.
There are a lot of great poems in this book, including one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems: Smart (you know the one… where the kid trades a dollar for two quarters, and on down the line till he gets five pennies). I especially enjoyed some of the school related poems, such as Morning Announcements and The Aliens Have Landed (the aliens, of course, being teachers).
The Bad: Some of the poems in this book were great. Some were wonderful! Others… not so much. My least favorite poems throughout the book were those written by the editor, Bruce Lansky. Some of them seemed to be written just to fill up space and to provide enough poems to complete a section. (As a side note, Lansky did not include any of his poems in my favorite section: “Off to School We Go”.)
Another complaint I have about this book is the number of sections. I realize the book is a general collection of funny poems for kids, but I would prefer it to have more of a focus on a specific topic. There are nine sections with anywhere from four to sixteen poems per section. Some sections are good, while others just feel haphazardly thrown together. I felt that this book would have been much better with fewer sections and more quality poems.
My final (very small) complaint is that some poems in the book need to be seen when read or they won’t make any sense. For example, Ned Nott makes very little sense when read aloud, as you can’t hear the difference between the names “Nott” and “Shott” and the words “not” and “shot.” This is only a problem for me currently because when I am substituting the poems are being read aloud to the class. As a book in my (future) classroom library this will not be a problem.
Final Thoughts: Overall, A Bad Case of the Giggles is a good joke book for kids. I enjoyed it immensely, and it very popular among the students I have been working with. The book has a few problems, but on the whole I think it is a great book to get kids interested in poetry. I will probably buy more of Lansky’s books in the future, especially for use in my classroom library.
I give A Bad Case of the Giggles four stars!