Humor is important. And it’s difficult to craft a picture book that is amusing to adults and kids alike. Here, in no particular order, are five that crack me up every time and amuse the kids too:
Everything by Jon Sczieska is pretty funny. His most famous collaboration with Lane Smith, The Stinky Cheese Man, is probably more clever, but this one is much better for absurd, laugh out loud fun. Each fable in the book is extremely short. There are enough that by the time I reread the book, I’ve usually forgotten one and can be surprised by the silly moral.
I’ve got big plans, big plans, I say! I’m laughing already. I won’t bother to summarize the plot. Just suffice it to say that the narrator is a little boy with big, silly plans. This is probably my most favorite book to read aloud in the whole world. I have actually begged my children for the opportunity to read it again.
This is the story of a pet boa constrictor who gets loose on a farm, causing a chain reaction of events that would astound anyone. It’s funny to begin with, but the humor is all in the telling. Meggie only tells the story in little pieces, saving the most absurd bits. When I read it aloud, it’s hard to keep ramping up the shock in the mother’s voice as she hears how things come out.
All of Mo Willems’s work is pretty funny. For a long time, I thought he could never top There is a Bird on Your Head. Then came the day that the kids and I spotted a new Elephant and Piggie book in the library. I pulled it out and we curled up in a corner to read it. By the end, I was literally crying with laughter and the kids cried, “Again!” Just so you know, I never, ever read books twice in a row. My kids rarely ask for immediate rereads anyway. But this time they asked and I said yes and laughed nearly as hard the second time around.
This is one of the strangest children’s books ever written. Actually, you could probably start any review of a Daniel Pinkwater book with that sentence. It’s the story of a cat that grows to an enormous size that no one except the father seems to recognize. Most of the humor is in the bizarre names that Daniel Pinkwater has given every character. That, and the fact that all they eat is onions. You have to have a certain sense of humor to appreciate this one, but I apparently have that sense of humor and I appreciate it very much. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s out of print so maybe I’m one of the few.