Each month, my friend Jen Vincent and I pick a book to discuss on my blog. This month it was Jen’s turn to pick. I was very exciting when she told me that we would be reading Fake Mustache. I am a big Tom Angleberger fan.
Check out our week one discussion.
JEN: While I’ve been reading Fake Mustache, I’ve also been reading The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger. I just have to shake my head at all the characters he is able to write. Fake Mustache is not short on hysterical supporting characters! As I am rereading, I’m noticing more and more all the little things the characters say and do that are funny the first time around, but the second time around are even more laughable because they are just so random and out there.
COLBY: I have found that when I reread Angleberger’s books I fall more in love with them the second and third times through. The first time I’m just enjoying the characters and the plot. It’s the rereadings where I really start to see how amazing the writing is. I’ve listened to The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and Horton Halfpott on audio and they gave me an appreciation of how well his books can be read aloud. I’ve read Fake Mustache aloud to my students and they voted it “Funniest Read Aloud Ever”. That is high praise.
JEN: In Chapter 3, Lenny goes with Casper to buy a suit. The second they walk in, the clerk at the store says, “‘Are you boys selling candy bars for your GottDangled school? No more candy bars! Get the Helchfitz out of here!’” (p. 8) I love that he starts the chapter with dialogue and that the words that come out of this character’s mouth are so funny!
COLBY: Beginning with dialogue is something that I model often for my fourth graders. Last week when we did our first quick write a student asked me if it was okay if he started his quick write with “One day..”.
I said, “ABSOLUTELY!”. Not the best way to start a story, but I LOVE that he obviously knows it’s not always the best way to start. I can’t believe that my incoming students are already thinking about that in their writing.
JEN: In Chapter 4, Lenny describes who he sees when Capser is freaking out that people might see him without his mustache. He says, “It looked like just the usual Harisprinkle kind of people, except there did seem to be more than the usual number of strolling accordion players.” (p. 13) I mean, it’s not just that there are more accordion players than usual, it’s that there usually are accordion players to begin with! It’s just funny!
COLBY: I have said it before and I’ll say it again: sometimes I feel like Tom Angleberger is one of the boys sitting in the back of my classroom writing stuff to get his classmates to crack up. The man is brilliant.
JEN: Here’s another quote similar to the last, the person who committed the bank robbery has “…instantly become the second-most wanted criminal in the United States, behind that lady who stole the president’s underpants last year.” (p. 30) I mean, he’s talking about this new crime and this new criminal, but he puts in the part about the president’s underpants. It’s like he sneaks it in there and I almost read it like it makes sense…but then I stop and do a double take and then I have to just laugh!
COLBY: I think that Tom understands what is funny to kids as well as anyone.
JEN: Another funny thing I’ve noticed is that he takes something a reader might expect and throws in something completely crazy. I actually just read about this as a technique for adding in humor from Ralph Fletcher’s Guy Write book.
Here’s an example of this from Fake Mustache:
“…Casper’s mom answered the door. She was carrying what appeared to be a three-foot-long diseased carrot and she had a hatchet in her hand.”
‘Hey, Lenny. Wassup, dude? Casper’s in his room. Supper will be ready at nine thirty if you want to stay…” (p. 35)
First of all, the carrot and the hatchet just sends my visualizing-brain into overload, and then I have to stop and realize that she’s just making dinner. It’s just awesome. That’s all I can say!
COLBY: This is making me excited about reading Fake Mustache to my 4th graders.
JEN: I can just hear the giggling. Fourth graders are awesome. Do you have a favorite supporting character that just cracks you up?
COLBY: I think Lenny Flem Jr. steals the show, but if I had to pick a supporting character I’d probably go with the fast food workers. They make my brain smile.