Eighteen Picture Books Guaranteed To Make You Laugh Out Loud Or At Least Smile by Margie Culver
When this tweet came over my feed during the July 4th holiday, I had to respond.
After a brief exchange of messages between Colby and me, it was decided I would do a Top Ten post. For more than two days I have been trying to narrow down my Top Ten subject. The possibilities are endless. I considered books about school because educators start thinking about next year before the previous year is even finished. Some of the best shared experiences with students have been when we are laughing about characters or a situation in a book. We have had great discussions when books stop and make us think about relationships with family members or friends. During our Mock Caldecott unit we enjoy studying the art of book making; all the elements included in the single beautiful unit know as a book. We have widened our world when we study the cultural differences in similar folktales. Our eyes are opened when an author and illustrator fracture a fairy tale. The small and large details about our natural world have surprised and amazed us.
The thing is I love books; all kinds of books. Every room in my house including the basement and except the bathrooms is filled with books. So I decided to do the only sensible thing I could think of to do; write the subjects on slips of paper and have a drawing. What follows is not actually a top ten. I have affection for too many authors and illustrator to limit my selection. This is a list of books of ten eighteen books where the grins galore factor is high; sometimes with the final page sealing the deal. In no particular order, the list follows. I tried to include books that I have reviewed on my blog, Librarian’s Quest, to date.
I Am Otter
written and illustrated by Sam Garton.
Otter narrates what can only be described as a fun-filled adventure with his best friend Teddy, a toy bear, when his human, Otter Keeper, is at work. Their attempts at owning and running a toast restaurant create messy mayhem on the home front. Charming, playful, full color illustrations with delightful details accentuate the narrative with every page turn.
written and illustrated by David Shannon.
Now sixteen years old this classic tale of a boy (David Shannon himself) doing the opposite of what is expected creates hilarity for all readers; perhaps because we see a little bit of ourselves in at least one of the situations. With each of his mother’s admonishments David can be seen climbing on a chair to reach the cookie jar, tracking his head-to-toe muddy self through the living room, running naked down the street, picking his nose or playing baseball inside the house (to name only a few). The energetic illustrations leave no doubt as to the constant-on-the-move personality of David and his non-stop antics.
This title won a Caldecott Honor medal. There are two other books in this series.
Here Comes The Easter Cat
written by Deborah Underwood with pictures by Claudia Rueda
Upon opening the cover visuals on the two pages prior to and including the title page begin the story of a disgruntled looking cat. When an unseen narrator asks him what the matter is, a conversation begins. Cat never says a word; answering pages of facial expressions, body postures and signs. Clearly he wishes to attain the popularity of the Easter bunny no matter what it takes. Illustrations surrounded by generous white space enhance the laughter factor. A sequel is in the works.
written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
For the first four years of his life Davy was an only sheep. To his utter frustration twelve…yes twelve…more brothers appear. What makes matters even worse is they mimic his every move. His parent’s pleas for patience are not helpful. When Davy is about to lose what little mind he has left, something unexpected happens. Cordell’s sheep are perhaps the funniest I have ever seen.
Tea Party Rules
written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by K. G. Campbell
Cub’s nose leads him from the forest to a most delectable treat, cookies! They happen to be part of a young girl’s plans for an outdoor tea party. Before he can enjoy his first bite, the girl comes. Quickly pretending to be her toy bear (now fallen to the ground and suitably hidden), his sincere desire for a cookie is tested as she prepares him according to her rituals for a proper tea party. Campbell’s expressive eyes on both the characters tell a story all their own. This title received the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award and New Illustrator Honor Award.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies
written and illustrated by Jan Thomas
Bold bright colors pop off the pages of this rib-tickling story of four dust bunnies, Ed, Ned, Ted and Bob. While the others proceed with their rhyming queries and replies, Bob has trouble with rhyming. What the others see as mistakes is Bob actually trying to warn them of their impending doom. Who knew dust bunnies could be so funny?
Z is for Moose
written by Kelly Bingham with illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky
Staged as a theater production with Zebra in the directorial role, animals and objects are waiting for their alphabetical performances. Moose has ideas all his own; not wanting to wait for the letter M. By the time the letter D is reached his impatience prevails with chaos closely following until the final letter. Illustrations by Caldecott author artist Paul O. Zelinsky are E for expressive, L for laughter and S for spirited.
written by Tom Angleberger with pictures by Cece Bell
Who attached Yankee to Mr. Doodle’s name? Why would you put a feather in your cap and call it macaroni? This collaboration between the husband and wife team of Angleberger and Bell is a highly laughable original tale of a probable conversation between the famous duo of Mr. Doodle and his Pony. When Pony responds with a suggestion to Mr. Doodle’s I’m bored remark, readers quickly see who is cranky and who is creative. It’s a ride you won’t want to miss.
written by Michael Ian Black with illustrations by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
If the title and cheerful, look-at-me illustrations on the dust jacket and book case don’t grab your attention, the narrative and interior pictures will. There is no doubt about the freedom this little guy feels sans clothing (except for the cape he eventually dons). Gleefully streaking through the house, wondering about all the places he could go naked, making periodic stops to grab a cookie in the kitchen with his mother trying to attain his recapture, you can’t help but laugh. No matter your age, you will see yourself reflected in this book; either as a parent or child.
Picture Day Perfection
written by Deborah Diesen with pictures by Dan Santat
Any educator, parent or child if asked can tell you about the importance of Picture Day at school. The narrator of this story has plans…big plans. It seems as if all his hard work has been for nothing as one mishap after another spells disaster for the perfect school picture; especially when he hears the final CLICK! The perfection twist at the end provides even more laughter. Dan Santat’s illustrations extend the narrative up, up and away. (In fact I could probably include most of his illustrative works on this list for their humor enhancement.) He is a master.
written and illustrated by Adam Stower
From the first two page illustration to the next paired with the text readers know this story is jam-packed with giggles. There is a direct contrast to what the text says and the illustrations picture. Sweet Lily believes her dream for having a dog has come true; it has…sort of…it’s actually a bear. Stower’s visuals are adorable. He has written a companion title called Naughty Kitty.
I Must Have Bobo!
written by Eileen Rosenthal with illustrations by Marc Rosenthal
Young Willy’s best friend, a sock monkey named Bobo is nowhere to be found. He feels like a whole missing his other half. They do everything together. Enter Earl, the household cat. Earl is jealous of Bobo, making it his supreme goal to keep taking him from Willy. Who will win, Willy or Earl? This is the first title of three. The others are I’ll Save You Bobo! and Bobo The Sailor Man!
The Great Fuzz Frenzy
written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel with illustrations by Janet Stevens
Get ready for a read aloud bonanza with word play rolling off your tongue! Golden retriever, Violet, creates certain havoc in prairie town when she drops a tennis ball down a nearby hole. All the prairie dogsters have no idea what it is, but they love the fuzz. A mad excitement ensues as they battle for chunks of this green goodness until danger swoops in on wings. All seems to end well but who’s that next to the hole again? VIOLET! These two sisters are wordsmith wizards with visuals by Caldecott Honor award winner (Tops & Bottoms) Janet Stevens.
This Is a Moose
written by Richard T. Morris with illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
The thing is Moose does not want to be a Moose in the documentary about a Moose being a Moose. No, Moose wants to be an astronaut. An initially unseen director says he cannot wear an astronaut suit, his grandmother cannot voice her opinion, and a giraffe who wants to be a doctor is surely not supposed to be part of this film. (How did a giraffe end up in the north woods?) Moose decides to follow his dream the only way possible. Will others follow? Tom Lichtenheld’s Moose and company from dust jacket, book case, endpapes and everything in-between are loaded with laughs. Everyone will want a front row seat for this book.
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
written and illustrated by Kevin Sherry
Giant Squid declares himself the biggest thing in the ocean proceeding page by page to compare and contrast his size with other deep sea residents. You might even say he is a bit of a braggart. On one of the final two page spreads readers clearly see what he cannot see until it’s definitely too late. Optimistic confidence wins has he declares his new status. The green, blue and black lined color palette adds to this title’s appeal.
written and illustrated by Jules Feiffer
George has a problem. Every single time his Mom asks him to bark the strangest sounds emerge; meow, quack-quack, oink and moo. She reminds him every single time dogs don’t meow, quack-quack, oink or moo; they bark. A trip to the vet reveals strange contents in George’s stomach. On the walk home the best is yet to come. I guarantee students will be rolling on the floor with laughter.
written and illustrated by David Wiesner
I will never forget reading this book for the first time. It had arrived in a recent book order with a colleague and me reading it together after school. Page turn after page turn this wordless tale of fabulous fantasy captivated and engaged us as frogs sitting upon lily pads in a pond begin flying through the air. Like an alien armada they zoom toward and through a nearby town, the yards and even inside homes. It’s the facial expressions on the frogs which rule the day, paving the way for outbursts of hilarity. It’s no wonder it garnered a Caldecott Medal in 1992.
written and illustrated by Molly Idle
In this companion title to Tea Rex, Molly Idle brings back those characters which charmed us in the first title, a girl, her younger brother, his teddy bear and four dinosaur pals. What makes this title stand out, as did the first, is the disparity between the words, a very prim and proper discourse on the dos and don’ts of camping, and the illustrations. If anything will go wrong (and with dinosaurs it’s a given), it will. Straying from the trail, setting up a hap-hazard camp site, poison ivy, and shaking up a bee hive are the first of many mishaps. Readers can only hope Molly Idle has more adventures planned for these friends.
Margie Culver can’t remember a time when she was not reading. With every turn of page her views, impressions and understanding of the world, past, present, future and fantastical, have increased. She’s been educated and entertained; had her heart broken and made whole again with hope. She began teaching as a school librarian in 1973. It has been the single best decision that She has ever made. She write posts about as many wonderful books as she can at Librarian’s Quest. You are welcome to follow her on Twitter @Loveofxena.