Silly is one of our family’s favorite things. Boy Detective loves to laugh, so it doesn’t take much to get him giggling. I’m more of a hard sell. To make me laugh, you have to bring funny AND clever. (And I don’t like potty or gross-out humor.) The following books were perfect for both of us, and many got at least a chuckle from C-Man as well.
Weasels by Elys Dolan. If I could only read one picture book ever again, it very well might be Weasels. It’s like a classic James Bond movie without James Bond, where the villain trying to take over the world is… a bunch of weasels. They have a secret laboratory, global communications, an international network of secret agents, a table-sized map in the war room where they push around little model tanks and weasel armies to plan their strategy, a seemingly endless supply of fancy coffee, a zealous health and safety officer, and a giant world-taking-over machine. Which is currently broken. Don’t panic though! It might be fine if they just, um, reconbobulate the hydrostability devices. Or something?
It’s rather hard to read out loud because the main narrative is only about 50% of the text – the rest is weasels talking to each other and ridiculous signs. But once we read it the first time and Boy Detective got the general idea, he’s found something new to laugh about every time we re-read it. (And he doesn’t even get the Austin Powers or World of Warcraft references.) So have I, actually. It’s just exquisitely funny and I’m sad that I just found out there was a Weasels mug and I don’t have one.
Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman. We may have forgotten to use our library voices, for a minute, when we were reading this in the library. There are multiple “To The Rescue” books but this one is the most absurd, where the pigs just surprise the heck out of you with their stunts. Highly recommended when you need a laugh. Or several.
999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura, with art by Yasunari Murakami. When 999 tadpoles become little frogs and outgrow their pond, it’s time for Mom and Dad frog to find them somewhere new to live. Unfortunately the babies are excited but very new to the world and its dangers. A long line of hopping frogs is also a tempting target for predators. When Dad frog gets grabbed by a hawk, the silliness escalates and I was laughing almost as much as Boy Detective.
Chicken Big by Keith Graves. When you’re born a little different, sometimes it’s tough to figure out your place in the world. Especially when the other members of your community don’t seem to be the sharpest pencils in the drawer. But family is family, so you just have to do your best and eventually things will work out! This was one of those books where days later the kiddo would say “Hey, do you remember when that one chicken said…” and then not be able to finish the sentence because he was cracking up.
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord (story and pictures) and Janet Burroway (verses). The town of Itching Down has a problem. It’s been invaded by wasps. After a community meeting, it’s decided the ONLY logical way to handle this is to make a giant jam sandwich to trap the wasps. Strangely, I have not tried this at our house (though wasps love to build nests on our front porch), but the book is extremely funny, especially the various characters and the creative problem-solving the town has to use to make their project a reality. Fans of British humor should pick this one up.
Catch That Goat by Polly Alakija. This one doesn’t have a complex story, but I was so entertained by what this goat got up to on its romp through the marketplace. And Boy Detective’s laugh at the end was a nice payoff! It’s a bright and cheerful book that also shows a glimpse of modern life in another country.
Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis, with art by Bob Kolar. You have to read this with enthusiasm, or not at all. Delightfully absurd exploration of how many things are nothing at all like a puffin…maybe. Or maybe you just need to think outside the box? I enjoyed this one even more than the kiddo did.
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. When you’re a raccoon who loves pizza, the whole world is against you, and they have brooms. Desperate times call for desperate measures! But maybe you shouldn’t get ON the buffet table…? Just a thought. This is completely ridiculous but Rubin and Salmieri have you rooting for the raccoon at every turn.
How To Get a Job… by Me, The Boss by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap. I can’t get enough of these “How To” books by Lloyd-Jones and Heap. I laugh so much. My six year old has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever had a job or job-hunted, but he kept going “hey!” and “no!” and laughing every time the narrator would make some new wild claim about how to get a job. I have to admit, I rushed him a little bit on exploring all the details on each page because I wanted to see what she was going to say next. Total crack-up.
Ding Dong! Gorilla! by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Leonie Lord. Mom’s getting ready upstairs. What could go wrong? Well, a lot of things, if you open the door thinking it’s the pizza being delivered and it’s actually a gorilla. At least, that’s the narrator’s story and he’s sticking to it. I have never read a more entertaining explanation of why the house is such a mess. Lord’s illustrations have SO much character and the style she used here is perfect for a child narrator’s recounting such a bizarre series of events.
Captain Arsenio: Inventions and (Mis)Adventures in Flight by Pablo Bernasconi. This is possibly the strangest children’s book we have ever read, right up there with Cowboy and Octopus from the books about friendship post. It’s a mock biography complete with excerpts supposedly from the Captain’s journal in 1782 as he attempts to build a working flying machine. And ends up on fire, stuck in a tree, and various other calamities. And yet he’s always supremely confident that the next attempt will not fail! It’s pitch-perfect and completely ridiculous.
A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. I’m so grateful to Black for writing this book! Without its urgent warning message, who knows how many town celebrations could be ruined?! His timely, careful analysis of all the ways pigs are unsuited for parades is insightful and…um, okay, I can’t keep this up. The book is just funny, y’all. There are pigs in marching band uniforms. Totally recommended for the kid who likes to giggle (and any nearby adults).
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. This is beyond absurd, and completely hilarious. Clearly if your kite gets stuck in a tree, the way to get it down is by throwing your shoe up there. And then your other shoe. But then what? The laws of physics are no match for this child’s determination to retrieve the kite!
Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger, with pictures by Cece Bell. Tom Angleberger is the guy behind the Orgami Yoda series, which took over my house for months with Star Wars Origami. Cece Bell is the cartoonist of El Deafo, her memoir about growing up with a hearing aid that C-Man and I fell in love with in 2014. I had no idea they were married and my mind was somewhat blown when I saw this book on the shelf at the library! It is hilarious. If the kiddo in your life doesn’t know the Yankee Doodle song, you can sing it to them right before you read it, and that will suffice for backstory. You can tell from the front cover that it’s going to be wacky, with the pony making helpful suggestions and the guy reacting with tirades of annoyance. You need decent energy to read this book out loud dramatically, and it’s SO worth it. Boy Detective can’t stop laughing about lasagna.
And that’s the list of our favorite silly children’s books! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!