Guys Read: Funny Business

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It’s here: Volume One of the official Guys Read Library. Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read initiative was founded on a simple premise: that young guys enjoy reading most when they have reading they can enjoy. And out of this comes a series that aims to give them just that. Ten books, arranged by theme, featuring the best of the best where writing for kids is concerned. Each book is a collection of original short stories, but these aren’t your typical anthologies—each book is edgy, inventive, visual, and one-of-a-kind, featuring a different theme for guys to get excited about.

Funny Business is based around the theme of—what else?—humor, and if you’re familiar with Jon and Guys Read, you already know what you’re in store for: ten hilarious stories from some of the funniest writers around. Before you’re through, you’ll meet a teenage mummy; a kid desperate to take a dip in the world’s largest pool of chocolate milk; a homicidal turkey; parents who hand over their son’s room to a biker; the only kid in his middle school who hasn’t turned into a vampire, wizard, or superhero; and more. And the contributor list includes bestselling author, award winners, and fresh new talent alike: Mac Barnett, Eoin Colfer, Christopher Paul Curtis, Kate DiCamillo (writing with Jon Scieszka), Paul Feig, Jack Gantos, Jeff Kinney, David Lubar, Adam Rex, and David Yoo.

Guys Read is all about turning young readers into lifelong ones—and with this book, and each subsequent installment in the series, we aim to leave no guy unturned.

Curriculet Details
49 Questions
57 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This interactive Curriculet, written for fifth grade, contains embedded annotations that discuss plot structure and elements of humor. Embedded links also connect students to author's other works and encourage student engagement. Videos throughout the Curriculet guide students in considering such topics such as figurative langauge and character development. Multiple choice and open-ended questions prompt students to compare and contrast stories within the same genre, analyze visual elements, and evaluate point of view throughout the text.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Before We Begin

Click here to watch a video of the authors who contributed to this book telling "The Joke."  (This annotation contains a video)

1. Best of Friends

What can you tell from this illustration about the relationship of these two boys? 
The narrator will describe a flashback from kindergarten. As you read on, think about what the flashback reveals about Ernest.  (This annotation contains a video)
The author included the flashback about kindergarten to show that 
In this paragraph, Dean is describing how much he wants to go to the Nesquik factory that he saw on the commercial. Are commercial always true? Do you think there really is a chocolate milk factory that lets kids swim in the milk? 
Ernest told Dean that he won a prize and gets to go to the Nesquik factory. What do you, the reader, know that Dean does not? 
"Turning a horse into pasture" means taking it out of its stall and letting it run in the fields. As John Scieszka said in the introduction, if you have to explain a joke, it probably isn't that funny.  (This annotation contains an image)
The main purpose of this scene is to show that 
Although the narrator says, "This was not good," he does not explain what about the situation is not good. Think about why the Dean would think this situation is "not good." 
This quote is a punch line to a joke that Ernest told earlier. If you don't remember the beginning of the joke, click back and find it. 
What text evidence shows that Dean is trying to make Jean-Pierre feel like he does not belong? 
The word morose in this sentence probably means 
Lactose is a sugar found in milk. People who are lactose intolerant cannot easily digest that sugar and suffer from gas, belly pain, and bloating if they drink milk. 
The way that Ernest interacts with Dean shows that he is 
This moment represents the climax, or the turning point in the story. As you read on, pay attention to how Dean's problem of wanting Ernest to take him to the Nesquik factory is solved. 
Describe what lesson Dean learned in the story. 

2. Will

By looking at this picture, you can predict that this story is probably 
As you read on, pay attention to what Will was checking for, and why his classmates keep disappearing.  
Summarize why Will's classmates keep disappearing. 
The word exasperated in this sentence could be replaced with  
A supervillian crashing through the walls of the school could make for a scary, heart-pounding thriller. As you read on, pay attention to how the author makes this villain humorous instead of scary. 
Which of the following pieces of text evidence shows that the supervillian is funny and not scary? 
In literature, an allusion is an indirect reference to another story or poem. Here, the author is making an allusion to the Magic Treehouse book series by Mary Pope Osborne.  (This annotation contains an image)
This might be an allusion to the book Freaky Friday, by Mary Rodgers. In this book, a girl and her mother magically switch places.  (This annotation contains an image)
Locate a simile in this sentence. What two things is the author comparing? 
Locate a simile in this passage. 
Watch this video to find out what antimatter is.  (This annotation contains a video)
Evaluate this quote. Based on text evidence, do you think Will is a hero? 

3. Artemis Begins

This story tells about an actual event from the author's childhood. As you look at the picture, make a quick prediction about what might happen in the story. 
The author includes this story about the scratch on the car to show that 
DEFCON stands for Defense Readiness Conditions. It is a five point scale that is used to describe the state of alert of the army during the threat of an attack. 
Which of the following seems like the most fitting definition of magnanimously? 
In this story, Eoin Colfer describes how his brother was the inspiration for the character, Artemis Fowl. Here is a clip of a music video about Artemis Fowl. As you watch the video, think about how Donal and Artemis are similar and different. (This annotation contains a video)

4. Kid Appeal

Summarize what makes Dwight a great best friend. 
What type of figurative language is the author using in these sentences? 
Can something have three halves? 
As you read on, pay attention to when the thermostat is mentioned again and what role it plays in developing the plot. 
A joke that uses different meanings of words, or two words that sound alike but mean different things, is called a "pun." As you read on, think about how the pun involving the words peel and appeal plays out. 
This next sequence has a lot of cause and effect relationships. As you read on, pay attention to what causes events to happen, and what happens as an effect of those events. 
Dwight and the narrator are similar because they both 
What caused the boys to think they had lost the contest? 
In this passage, the author is giving clues about how the costume will turn out. Dwight had a hard time getting the bandage off the roll. It was hard to tear. They decided to wrap it in one piece. As you read on, pay attention to how these clues suggest the final outcome. 
Summarize how the narrator ended up in the hospital. 
Peeled... appealed... It's a pun! The fact that the butcher was the only judge who liked it adds to the humor as well - why would a peeled child appeal to a butcher? 
Quiz 1 

5. Your Question for Author Here

This may be an allusion to the book, Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Clearly. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the context, the word perfunctory probably means 
Maureen has answered Joe's first question, which was, "Why do you write books?"  Explain her answer in your own words. 
Quid pro quo is latin for "something for something." Maureen means that if Joe wants her to answer his questions, then he has to answer her questions also. 
Although Maureen does not define the word "nefarious," you can assume that it means 
Click here to write you own haiku.  (This annotation contains a link)
Here is an image that shows the phases of the moon. Do you agree with Maureen that is it is wonderful to have a shared name for things?  (This annotation contains an image)
How has Joe's character changed from the beginning of the story? 

6. A Fistful of Feathers

Dark humor is a kind of humor that makes light of serious or gloomy subjects. Look at the expression on the turkey's face. You can tell that he is scary or dangerous. Throughout this story, the turkey will be used in a comical way. 
Explain how the narrator and his father are different. 
What mood is created by the author's use of short sentences? 
In this section, the author begins to more fully develop the human characteristics of the turkey. Giving animals human qualities is called anthropomorphism. As you read on, pay attention to how the turkey seems to have human traits. 
Quote from the text when the author uses anthropomorphism by making the turkey seem human. 
In this story, the main character, Sam, is the protagonist. The turkey is emerging as an antagonist. As you read on, think about if the turkey is the only "character" that presents obstacles for Sam, or if another character is also an antagonist.  (This annotation contains a video)
Who else besides the turkey could be considered an antagonist in the story? 
The point in a story in which the protagonist solves his problem is called the climax. As you read on, pay attention to how Sam decides to solve the problem with the turkey. 
Summarize Sam's attempt to solve his problem. 
Describe how Sam's character changed since the beginning of the story. 

7. Unaccompanied Minors

Like "Artemis Begins," this story is about real life events that happened in the life of the author. As you read on, pay attention to how the stories are similar or different. 
The author included this scene to show 
The narrator of this story similar to Donal from "Artemis Begins" are similar because they both 
Here is a short video clip of Hulk Hogan wrestling Andre the Giant in 1987. It is easy to see why Patrick and his friends admired Hulk Hogan!  (This annotation contains a video)
What can you conclude from this passage? 
The phrase "jumped out of his skin" is an idiom, because it means something other than the literal meaning. In this case, it means that Patrick was very frightened. Click here for a game to get more practice with idioms.  (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is a simile? 
Quiz 2 

8. “What? You Think You Got It Rough?”

In the opening sentence, the narrator makes a statement about his grandfather, Papa Red. As you read on, pay attention to how the author develops Papa Red's character. What influences his actions? Does he change or remain the same? As the reader, how do you feel about Papa Red? (This annotation contains a video)
How are the narrator and his brother, Chester, different? 
From Momma's comment, you can infer that Papa Red stretches the truth. As you read on, pay attention to how else he stretches the truth to explain his toughness. 
Summarize how Papa Red came to live with the narrator. 
This is a picture of a 1935 Packard automobile.  (This annotation contains an image)
The following is a story told by Papa Red from his first person point of view. Pay attention to the quotation marks. Double quotation marks (") show that Papa Red is talking. If Papa Red is reporting what someone else said, it will be shown with single quotation marks ('). 
Which other character from a different story expressed a similar thought? 
The image of the smell of spaghetti hitching a ride on the heat is an example of personification.  (This annotation contains a video)
What does LaWanda mean by using the idiom, "The apple never falls far from the tree"? 
How did your perception of Papa Red change from the beginning, to the middle, to the end of the story? 

9. My Parents Give My Bedroom to a Biker

The first line of a short story is very important. It hooks the readers in and makes them want to read more. Looking at the picture, and reading the first line of the story, make a prediction about what might happen in this story. 
The telling of events in the story are influenced by the person telling them. In this story, the narrator believes that he has been treated unfairly because he is a very good kid. As you read on, pay attention to how the narrator's point of view influences the way the events are described. 
Which of the following quotes is a simile to describe the temperature? 
The narrator is telling you that life is going to get even more strange. The part in the plot where the problem gets bigger and bigger is called the rising action.  (This annotation contains an image)
How would this story be different if it were told from Carl's point of view? 
The word CLINK is an onomatopoeia. Watch this music video to find out what an onomatopoeia is, and pay attention to other onomatopoeias as the story continues.  (This annotation contains a video)
Identify two similes in this passage. 
The broccoli in this story is known as a "plot voucher" - an object that is given to the protagonist that allows him to escape a situation that would be otherwise impossible. Examples of plot vouchers can also be found in James Bond movies. 
Summarize why the narrator's parents had been behaving so strangely. 

10. The Bloody Souvenir

The word "feral" in this sentence probably means 
Do you think it would be possible to make a Roman catapult out of a pine tree? Check out this clip to find out.  (This annotation contains a video)
Arrrgh is an example of 
Eureka is an ancient Greek word meaning, "I have found it!" It is used as an exclamation of triumph at discovering something. 
Select a quote from the text that shows how the narrator's mother is feeling. Explain your quote. 
Quarantine is a sanitary measure taken to prevent the spread of diseases by people who are contagious.  
Quiz 3 

About Guys Read and Biographical Information

Click here to explore the Guys Read Website.  (This annotation contains a link)
Click here to watch a book trailer about the book Kuncklehead. What inspired him to write these stories?  (This annotation contains a video)
Click here to read a classified message from Mac Barnett about his book The Britxon Brothers: The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity.  (This annotation contains a video)
In addition to the titles listed here, Eoin Colfer has another series called WARP. Click here to watch a book trailer on WARP: The Reluctant Assassin.  (This annotation contains a video)
The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 was turned into a movie. Click here to watch a trailer of the movie.  (This annotation contains a video)
Click here to watch an interview with Kate DiCamillo where she describes why she wants to spread the joy of reading.  (This annotation contains a video)
Click here to read an excerpt from the book, and to play a game called Frequenaut Flyer.  (This annotation contains a link)
Click here to read descriptions of the many books Jack Gantos has written. Which ones look the most interesting to you?  (This annotation contains a link)
In this video, Jeff Kinney shows how to draw the character from his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  (This annotation contains a video)
Click here to listen to an excerpt from the book, In the Land of the Lawn Weenies called "All the Rage."  (This annotation contains a video)
Click here to explore Adam Rex's website.  (This annotation contains a link)
Here is the cover art for the book, The Detention Club. What can you tell about these characters from the picture?  (This annotation contains an image)