by Kim Baker
Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.
RELATED ACTIVITIES & RESOURCES
Book Trailer (1:14):
About the author, including contact email:
Plan a field trip to a local museum or heritage site to investigate pioneer life.
Hold a jelly bean or M&M jar contest in imitation of Ben filling the classroom with pit balls. Fill a jar of any size with a treat of your choice and invite students to estimate how many items are in the jar for a prize. The prize could even be the jar of treats! If you are using this activity in a classroom, it could be an opportunity to teach estimation. A teacher could expand that to teaching the formula to estimate the number of pit balls of a pre-determined size to fill the classroom to a pre-determined depth.
Step-by-Step pickling process with pictures:
Puzzles, Jokes, and FUN:
Pickle Jokes Galore:
Some to read and some to give you ideas for writing your own jokes!
BOOK TALK TEASERS
Read the inside front flap of the book jacket. If the Babymouse and Squish titles are popular in your area, include the Matthew Holm comment from the back of the book jacket.
Other funny stories about the same subject (practical jokes):
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. The boys start the war. Disgusted that a family with three girls moves into the house across the river, nine-year-old Wally and his three brothers declare a practical joke war on the girls. This is the first of this author’s entertaining Hatfords and Malloys series, all of which are funny in tone and the practical jokes never end. (Betty Potter)
Colfer, Eoin. The legend of Captain Crow’s teeth. When Will hears the legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth from his prank-loving older brother, the nine-year-old fears he will be the bloodthirsty pirate’s next victim. (NoveList)
Clements, Andrew. Frindle. When he decides to turn his fifth grade teacher’s love of the dictionary around on her, clever Nick Allen invents a new word and begins a chain of events that quickly moves beyond his control. (NoveList)
Other realistic fiction in the same tone (funny):
Patterson, James. I funny: a middle school story. Resolving to become the world’s greatest stand-up comedian despite less-than-funny challenges in his life, wheelchair-bound middle school student Jamie Grimm endures bullying from his mean-spirited cousin and hopes he will be fairly judged when he enters a local comedy contest. (NoveList)
Korman, Gordon. Schooled. Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie, but when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a guidance counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school. (NoveList)
Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza swallowed the key. To the constant disappointment of his mother and teacher, Joey has trouble paying attention or controlling his mood swings when his prescription medicine wears off and he starts acting wired. This is the first of four Joey Pigza books. (Betty Potter)
Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School. By Kim Baker. Illus. by Tim Probert. 2012. 240p. Roaring Brook, $15.99 (9781596437654). Gr. 4–7. (Booklist, November 1, 2012).
What new kid at school hasn’t dreamed about making friends, being part of a club, and even perhaps playing a prank and not getting caught? Sixth-grader Ben Diaz wants to expand his circle of friends, and he thinks starting the year with a prank is a good way to do it. However, he is not going to include Hector in the prank. Why not? It just so happens that Hector’s grandmother is the principal of their middle school (and she has no sense of humor). After succeeding with his initial prank, Ben decides to form a school club, the League of Pickle Makers, to use as a guise for their pranks. As the pranks escalate, readers will know that the culprits will eventually get caught. Even though this is a fast-paced, humorous story, it tackles the true meanings of friendship. Meanwhile, Probert’s illustrations offer just the right amount of characterization. Pair this with James Preller’s Justin Fisher books or Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.— J. B. Petty
PICKLE: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School
by Kim Baker; illus. by Tim Probert
Intermediate, Middle School Roaring Brook 236 pp.
9/12 978-1-59643-765-4 $15.99
Ben is psyched to learn that Pete’s Pizza is giving away all the little plastic balls from its ball pit—“as is”—to anyone who can tote them away (“I know Katie McLeod’s little brother puked in there at his birthday party, so I had a pretty good idea of what ‘as is’ meant. Still, free!”). Ben gets the great idea of filling up his classroom with them, creating the kickoff event for a series of tricks done by the P.T.A. (Prank and Trick Association). Using an afterschool pickle-making club as cover, but intentionally leaving out best friend Hector (whose stern grandmother is the school principal), Ben handpicks his crew: ingenious Frankie and actor Oliver (and he also ends up getting stuck with a feisty girl named Bean). The elation everyone feels after a successful trick—such as the classic suds-in-the-fountain one—is balanced by the stress of keeping a secret, especially when the pranks don’t turn out as planned. Ben’s first-person narration is fresh, informal, and funny. Baker writes with a light and lively hand, depicting a realistic urban setting peopled with engaging characters from various ethnic backgrounds. A website provides readers with a forum to record their own pranks (and provides some pickle recipes). SUSAN DOVE LEMPKE – Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com
School Library Journal:
Baker, Kim. Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School
Gr 4–6—Ben Diaz has a secret. His after-school pickle-making club is just a cover for the group’s real purpose: pulling pranks. Ben also has a problem. His best friend wants to join, but Hector can’t keep a secret, and Hector’s grandmother is the stern principal of the boys’ middle school. When a prank releases thousands of crickets at a school fair, the principal suspends all extracurricular activities until the culprits turn themselves in. The club members organize a protest to reclaim students’ rights, as Ben says, “to be responsible for our choices. We can’t if she won’t let us.” The resolution will satisfy even if it’s a bit idealized, just as the novel’s kid-empowerment theme will resonate with young readers, but it does not help them to consider that their choices-like pranks-can have unintended consequences. Ben’s first-person narration feels authentic. What feels forced is the device of the protagonist warning readers in chapter one to continue with the story “only if you think you can handle it.” The club members all have backstories that make them distinct characters; the adults get less attention. Probert’s finely detailed, expressive illustrations depict the club’s racially diverse makeup. Baker’s debut novel shows promise and offers an enjoyable read. —M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY