Today’s Stack Overflow is still about picture books (I’ve got a lot of them): this time, some of the funniest picture books we’ve read recently. Silly books that make us laugh are probably our favorite type to read out loud, so if you like to giggle with your kids, check out this list.
My kids and I don’t always appreciate the same types of humor, but we all agree that this is, hands-down, the funniest book in today’s list. Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts is an Ample Roundy Fish out to visit her second cousin twice removed and her 157 new babies. But. Oh dear. Between her and her destination there’s a fisherman waiting to catch this fat fish, and a Great Blue Heron eager to have a meal. Doreen is entirely clueless, and her reactions to the bait, being hooked, and so on, are priceless. Equally laugh-worthy are the narrator’s running commentary (“Oh dear, Doreen”). The illustrations are charming, perfectly capturing Doreen’s enthusiasm and glee.
Donut the bear doesn’t get much of a story before the narrator announces that it’s the end. So he keeps coming back, trying to get some more story … and it works. Sort of. The plain yellow background makes a nice empty stage for the simple line drawings of Donut and his goofy attempts to get back into the book. My kids liked the way Donut has an ongoing conversation with the increasingly exasperated narrator.
If you’re looking for an exciting pet, a sloth probably isn’t your best bet, but if your mom will only let you have a pet that doesn’t need to be bathed or walked or fed, it’ll have to do. The little girl in the story names her sloth Sparky and tries to teach him games. He’s really good at playing Statue, but not so great at King of the Hill. And when the little girl tries to impress Mary Potts with a Trained Sloth Extravaganza, well, it’s not exactly a smashing success. The illustrations are delightful. The humor is a little more quiet and understated, as befits a sloth, but I think I enjoyed it more than my kids did.
And here’s one that my kids insisted I include, though it’s not quite my style of humor. When a bubble pops, it reappears in La La Land, where the monsters live. And they’re all terrified of bubbles because of Mogo, who tells them all sorts of scary “facts” about bubbles. They eventually overcome their fear, thanks to the wise narrator, but the image of big monsters cowering from bubbles is pretty amusing.
It hasn’t ever been confirmed that President Taft actually got stuck in a bathtub, but that’s basically what most people remember about him. And it makes for an excellent picture book. Mac Barnett is a master of silliness, and all of Taft’s advisers give ridiculous suggestions for how to deal with the president’s problem. There’s also section in the back that lists a few facts about Taft and bathtubs, and even the non-fiction is funny.
And here’s another new book by Mac Barnett—a line of birds on a telephone wire play a game of telephone. Peter pigeon’s mom wants him to fly home for dinner. But the little baseball-bat-holding cardinal says to “hit pop flies and homers.” Each bird along the wire hears the message with their own interests in mind, and passes it along. The illustrations by Jen Corace are wonderful, with lots of little details to discover on repeated readings. (Telephone will be released in September.)
Emily and Elmer are getting a bedtime story from their dad—Filth and Vacuum are the Terrible Two, and nobody can stop them. The book cuts between the comic book and the kids’ interjections while dad reads the story, and I liked the different art styles used for the comic and the framing story. My kids loved the superhero names, like Super-Flying-Through-the-Air-Very-Fast Man and Extremely Boring Man. But is Extremely Boring Man boring enough to put the kids to sleep? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
You know what weasels really do all day? Plot world domination. But something has gone wrong with their machine, and they’re scrambling to fix it. The pictures are full of little details, with lots of weasels having conversations with each other, trying out solutions, and complaining about coffee. Very cute.
A movie director is shooting a documentary about a moose. Except this moose wants to be an astronaut. And have you met his grandma? As the director gets increasingly frustrated because none of the animals are acting like animals, my kids get increasingly tickled by the silliness. Tom Licthenheld’s illustrations are a lot of fun, with the various animals getting into the act.
Bobby’s teacher is a monster: she stomps and roars, and makes Bobby’s life at school miserable. But then one day he runs into Ms. Kirby at the park on the way to his favorite spot, and things are not quite as they seem. I love the way the illustrations show Bobby’s perception of Ms. Kirby—and the way all of us might be a little monstrous from time to time.
Disclosure: GeekDad received review copies of these books.