Books

Box of Shocks
Released in 2011

I reach into my goodie bag, pick the candy up and carefully place it in the middle of the empty box.

"Shock number one," I whisper.

From now on, whenever I open my Box of Shocks and see that candy, I'll remember that night of terror when I risked my life trick or treating at the Milburn House. Best of all, no one, including my parents, will ever know but me.

Box of Shocks was released in the fall of 2011. It won the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award for 2013. Oliver, a pampered only child, discovers an empty box in the dirt floor of his basement. Hiding the box in the wall of his bedroom closet, he collects souvenirs from his daring exploits and keeps them hidden from his parents. But when he returns home from spending a month at his aunt and uncle's farm, he discovers his parents have moved, and his precious Box of Shocks is left behind. Oliver undertakes some daring attempts to rescue his box, but in so doing, he learns the harsh reality of the young boy his own age who has moved into his old house.

...Box of Shocks is a quick, memorable read that would definitely capture the attention of young readers. Hooked right from the first chapter, readers are curious to learn what amazing things the rebellious Oliver will collect to shock his parents. Books in Transit

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Tabloidology
Released in 2009

"Photocopier malfunctions are not newsworthy," Martin said.

"Not newsworthy?" Trixi said. "Listen to me, Marty. This week at our school, you had the best stories any newspaper editor could hope for. Just think of the headlines you could have had! Photocopier Goes Wild! This Week Origami! Next Week, Paper Airplanes?"

"That's ridiculous," Martin said.

"Or how about Toilets Reciting Poetry at Upland Green School! What Will They Do Next? Sing opera? Tap dance?"

"That's even more ridiculous. In my newspaper, I just report the facts," Martin said.

Take one prankster, put her together with the editor of the world's most boring school newspaper, add one over-worked principal, and you've got a recipe for the most chaotic few weeks in the history of Upland Green Elementary. The unlikely duo of Martin Wettmore, editor and expert grammarian, and Trixi Wilder, prankster extraordinaire, is given the task of improving the pathetic sales of their school newspaper. Martin and Trixi clash over everything from journalistic integrity (Trixi has none) to imagination (Martin has none). But when the paper starts to wreak havoc at the school, Principal Baumgartner shuts it down and assigns Trixi to Saturday morning bus-washing duty. To redeem themselves, Martin and Trixi resolve to create one very special edition of the Upland Green Examiner.

Tabloidology was chosen as a 2010 CCBC Best Books. In the spring of 2010, a Korean edition of Tabloidology was published by Vidam Publishing.

"The lessons that Tabloidology delivers are important: issues of representation -- truth, falsehood, exaggeration and omission -- are combined with a lesson in achieving balance that many readers will be beginning to learn themselves." The Victoria Times-Colonist.

"This light-hearted book will keep younger readers going just to see what happens next. But underneath the mayhem is a strong message about working together and compromise. It's a great read-aloud, but only if you can stop laughing long enough." Resource Links

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Klutzhood
Released in 2007

I hadn't had so much fun since the time I got locked out of the house in my underwear. Today was my first day at a brand new school in a brand new town. I arrived at the drop-off area in front of the school in a rusty old pickup truck with Fast Eddy's Manure Sales written across both doors and a load of guess-what in the back. A crowd of people lined the sidewalk, staring at the heap of a pickup: one headlight missing, the front bumper held on with twisted wire, and an engine that backfired so often it sounded like a fireworks display on wheels.

The driver of the truck--my mom--didn't help make my arrival exactly smooth. She wasn't used to the gear shift, so every time she tried to shift gears, it sounded like an out-of-whack dentist's drill, and the truck would lurch forward, hopping like a gigantic, manure-filled, metal Easter bunny. When we finally pulled up to the curb, the engine let off a final ear-splitting BANG! before it died.

With all those strangers staring at me from the sidewalk, I refused to get out of the truck. No one--not even my mom--could make me get out and walk through that crowd and go inside to register at my new school.

Arlo thinks his mother is crazy for taking a job in a small town, far away from his old home and his good friends. And to make matters worse, the students at his new school are crazy -- hockey crazy. Arlo has never laced up a pair of skates in his life, and he's not about to start. To avoid making a complete fool of himself in front of his classmates, Arlo joins a group of misfits called the Dumpster Dudes, who set him a series of wild initiation tests that unleash mayhem on the school. Broken windows in the classrooms, angry ants in the hallways, bicycles in the library and monsters in the air ducts -- can East Bend Elementary survive Arlo? And will Arlo survive East Bend?

Klutzhood was chosen for the 2008 CCBC Best Books, was a nominee for the Willow Award, the Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Award, as well as being chosen for the Fraser Valley Regional Library's Reading Link Challenge.

"Chris McMahen's humorous writing style will open the reader's eyes to the very real conflict felt by students who want to belong but don't really know how...Highly recommended." CM Magazine.

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Buddy Concrackle's Amazing Adventure
Released in 1996

Welcome to my photo album! You are in for one of the most exciting experiences in your entire life! Reading this photo album is even more exciting than watching your uncle Rudy's video of his trip to Cleveland, Ohio! More exciting than bungee jumping blindfolded into a giant vat of steaming hot chocolate sauce! Even more exciting than shaving your best friend's head bald and drawing a map of the northern Hemisphere on it with a felt pen that never ever washes off!

As you look at my photo album, you will gasp at the sight of the lake monster Ogopogo inhaling entire towns through his nostrils. Thrill at the views of death-defying kite flying on Oregon's windy coast! See a picture of the world's biggest yo-yo! Even Elvis Presley may make an appearance!

In this photo album, you will see it all!

But there is one small, tiny itsy, bitsy problem. If you look at the photo album, you will notice there's something missing - pictures. You see I had a bit of bad luck and ... well ... there are no pictures.

Buddy Concrackle is going to miss a week of school. His teacher gives him an assignment to make a photo album of his family's trip to the Oregon Coast in search of an elusive Elvis lawn ornament. Unfortunately, Buddy, somehow loses all of the photos. All that's left are his descriptions of the missing photos. The reader is forced to imagine such scenes involving a highly dangerous Mega-Yo-Yo, a bagpipe-playing hitchhiker Angus "Eardrums" McLeod, and a motel featuring a bowling alley on the top floor.

Buddy Concrackle's Amazing Adventure was given the Our Choice award by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

"There is a great deal of humour in the book. The characterization of the parents is very amusing. Additional characters, such as bagpipe player Ear Drum Macleod, add a chuckle to the plot. Short cut taking, map reading, border crossing, lawn ornaments, and seafood restaurants are all included in Buddy's hilarious adventures. Buddy's understating of events will also be enjoyed by the reader." CM Magazine