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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Books to Tickle Your Funny Bone

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Tomorrow will be April Fool's Day.  I don't know about your house, but everyone in mine will spend the day trying to come up with funny tricks to play on each other.  To get ready for the silly day, I thought I'd share some of the books that make our family laugh:

CLICK, CLACK, MOO: Cows That Type, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, 2000...  When Farmer Brown's cows discover an old typewriter in the barn, they start sending him notes and making polite demands.

Cronin has written several books about Farmer Brown and his animals, but this first one remains my favorite.  I love the absurd notion of cows typing, and Lewin's illustrations crack me up every time I read this book!

The Monster at the End of this Book, written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Mike Smollin, 1971... Sesame Street's "lovable, furry old Grover" begs readers not to turn any more pages because the title mentions a monster at the end of the book.

I can still remember reading this book to my little sister back in the 70's.  We both thought it was hilarious!  I've read it to my own kids many times over the years, and each one has howled with laughter.  Recently I heard my son Ben reading it to some of his stuffed animals -- apparently they thought it was funny, as well! :)

Julius, The Baby of the World, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, 1990... Big sister Lilly thinks it will be fun to have a baby in the house, but when her little brother Julius actually arrives -- and stays -- Lilly is filled with jealousy.

I came across this book in a bookstore when I was pregnant with my second child, Nick.  I literally laughed out loud at the pictures and the story as I flipped through it.  I took it to my husband (in another area of the store) and insisted he read it.  He chuckled all the way through, and we both knew we HAD to buy that book for our daughter Emmalie!  Since that time, I've bought several more copies of the book to send to family and friends with a second child on the way. I love the humorous way that Henkes handles the very common issue of sibling rivalry and how Lilly eventually ends up accepting (and caring for) her baby brother.

Just Too Cute and Other Adorable Stories for Horrible Children, written by Mike Reiss and illustrated by Johnny Yanok, 2010... Filled with stories and poems about some adorable troublemakers, this book and its offbeat humor probably appeal more to adults or older kids than it does to young children.

I spotted this book at our library -- the title itself made me giggle, and I knew I'd be bringing it home with me!  My boys and I found the stories inside amusing, though some of the humor was a bit over 6-year-old Ben's head.

Kat Kong, written and "directed" by Dav Pilkey, 2003... A spoof on the story of King Kong, this book describes how Doctor Varmint and Rosie Rodent find the mighty Kat Kong, then capture him and bring him back to Mousopolis.

This story and another Pilkey creation, Dogzilla, are chock-full of puns and silliness!  They have long been favorites of Nick's -- even though he's a teenager now, he still comes to listen when I read them to his little brother.

The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot, written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by Mark Fearing, 2011... You've heard this plot before, but maybe not quite this way.  Three little aliens head out into space to make new homes for themselves.  Soon the Big Bad Robot flies in to crack and smack and whack their houses down.

Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of this amusing take on The Three Little Pigs.  Ben and I loved the fun sound effects in the book and Fearing's comical illustrations.

Diary of a Worm, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss, 2004...  Who knew a worm's life could be so droll?  From making macaroni necklaces at school (with just one piece of the pasta) to telling jokes with his best friend Spider to attempting the Hokey Pokey, Worm has all kinds of things to write about in his diary.

When I saw that this book was written by the author of CLICK CLACK MOO: Cows That Type, I couldn't wait to read it!  I was not disappointed.  Once again, Cronin has created a story that kids (and parents) of all ages will find hysterical... and Bliss' illustrations, full of zany little details, complements the story perfectly.

Mouse Mess, written and illustrated by Linnea Riley, 1997... When a mouse ventures out into the kitchen for a midnight snack, he leaves the room in shambles.

I was looking for a book to buy for Emmalie when she was just a toddler and I came across this one.  I was drawn to it by the bright, colorful cover, and then when I flipped through the book, I fell in love with the rhyming text, the fun illustrations, and the story itself.  You can probably tell from the picture below that this one has been read over and over and over again in the many years since I brought it home for Emm!

Pig Pigger Piggest, written by Rick Walton and illustrated by Jimmy Holder, 1997...  In this goofy retelling of The Three Little Pigs, Pig, Pigger, and Piggest set out to build homes for themselves.  Witch, Witcher, and Witchest destroy those homes, turning them into giant mud puddles.

I am amused by the many ways that both Walton and Holder use superlatives to tell this story, and Holder's illustrations always bring a smile to my face.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, illustrated by Simms Taback, 1997... Chances are you've heard this funny folk song before, about the old lady who swallows a fly and then a spider (to catch the fly) and then several other creatures.

Taback's wacky artwork (with cut-out sections to show everything inside the lady's stomach) brings the song to life and makes it even more entertaining.

I'd planned to feature only picture books for this post, but I've been reading this next book to Ben this week, and decided to include it here.  It definitely fits the "tickle your funny bone" theme!

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, written by Judy Blume, 1972...  Fourth grader Peter Hatcher has many problems, but the biggest is a three-year-old -- his little brother Fudge.  Fudge's many escapades throw the whole family for a loop, but especially Peter, who just wants to spend time with his friends and his pet turtle Dribble.

I remember my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Callison, reading this book to our class.  It was humorous then, and I still find it humorous now.  (And, I assume from his many giggle fits while listening to me read, that Ben feels the same way about it.)  Being the oldest sibling, I can certainly relate to Peter and his predicaments!

What are some of your favorite funny books?  I'd love to hear about them!

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