I’m continuing on my quest to find children’s books that make both me and my children laugh. Not books that are a little wacky or that make us crack a small smile, but books that get us rolling. Here are 8 more.
This post is old. See my improved and expanded list here!
A Pizza With Everything on It, Kyle Scheele and Andy J. Pizza [Amazon | Bookshop]
A wild, laugh-out-loud, sublimely absurd adventure
Try to read this one aloud without laughing. The premise is this: a boy’s father owns a pizza restaurant, and one day the boy decides he wants a pizza with everything on it. Simple enough, you’d think, but the boy means this literally and wants ev-er-y-thing on his pizza. Not just what’s in the restaurant, or in the town, but everything. (This soon creates some cosmic problems.) The joke is simple but done magnificently well, and the illustrations are hilarious. I loved this and laughed and laughed while reading it.
Ergo, Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz [Amazon | Bookshop]
A sweet and laugh-out-loud philosophical story about being and becoming
In this bright, hopeful, and funny book, a curious chick explores the inside of her egg before she hatches — and boldly concludes: “I AM THE WORLD.” But it isn’t quite so simple as that… Many books about empathy and caring, like this one, sacrifice story for the message (you read them once and then that’s enough), but Ergo’s story is engaging and wonderful. Children are in on the joke (Ergo is not the world!), and Ergo is such an adorable and expressive character that it’s fun to read this over and over. And Ergo’s big questions and grand conclusions make this a fun one to read aloud, as theatrically as you like!
Otto: A Palindrama, Jon Agee [Amazon | Bookshop]
A very funny and absurd tale told entirely in palindromes
I think it’s safe to say you won’t have read anything like this before: a graphic novel written entirely in palindromes. If you know a thing or two about palindromes, you’ll know that the longer ones often sound absurd, and so this book goes in absurd — and profoundly delightful — directions. It’s hallucinatory, silly, and clever, a quick read that made me laugh out loud on just about every other page. It’s beautifully constructed — a ridiculous idea taken to sublime heights. I love it unreservedly. (This one isn’t a picture book, but it’s a remarkably quick graphic novel and one you could absolutely read aloud in one sitting.)
Secret Pizza Party, Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri [Amazon | Bookshop]
A brilliantly narrated story that’s perfect for dramatic read-alouds
Raccoon is not only enthusiastic about pizza, he’s obsessive about it. So why will no one let him have any? Why do they always chase him away with brooms? (Raccoon is certainly obsessed with pizza, but as a child I know noted, “The people here must really be obsessed with brooms.”) There’s only one solution: a secret pizza party. The illustrations are often quite funny, but the star here is the narrator: sneaky, persuasive, and occasionally out of control (but, hey, that’s just the power of pizza). It’s written so well that it’s easy to read this one for big laughs — a book that’s ready for your best theatrical performance.
Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness, Loryn Brantz [Amazon | Bookshop]
A laugh-out-loud, silly, and cute ode to blanket cocoons
This very funny book about the pleasures of making blanket cocoons is a bit suspenseful, quite dramatic, and very, very silly. The illustrations are superbly done and key to the humor — seeing a cocooned child orbiting Earth or bouncing through the jungle had my children in stitches. And I think the book’s cartoonish wildness and near-hyperventilating fervor are a bit reminiscent of Allie Brosh and Hyperbole and a Half, so if you’re a fan of her work, you might love this one, too. And aside from being very funny, the book’s guide to making blanket cocoons might well inspire children to try their hands at rolling themselves up and getting extremely cozy, too.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex [Amazon | Bookshop]
An origin story that hilariously gives mundane objects the epic treatment
In this funny and dramatic origin story for rock paper scissors, the three great warriors trek across their realms in search of opponents who can best them. Rock handily defeats Apricot, and Computer Printer is no match for Paper — but winning isn’t fun if there’s no real challenge. So it’s only when these masterful competitors meet each other that life becomes interesting. The pairing of mundane household objects with trash-talking and dramatic action sequences is delightful and very funny — it makes for a ridiculous epic. And as for reading it aloud: if you’ve ever fantasized about narrating a fighting championship, this one’s for you.
The Wolf & the Duck & the Mouse, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen [Amazon | Bookshop]
A riotous tale of survival that’s bursting with wit
A wolf swallows a mouse, and, as the mouse is despairing inside its belly, it hears the voice of a duck, who had been swallowed, too, long ago. This duck is not only extraordinarily funny but also delivers one of the best lines in all of children’s literature: “I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten.” Are these not words to live by? A truly great picture book — and a side-splittingly funny one, too.
Battle Bunny, Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers [Amazon | Bookshop]
A child revises a bland and unimaginative picture book, and the result is sublime
Although it’s never explicitly explained, the concept here is that Alex’s grandmother gave him a sweet but very traditional book, Birthday Bunny — but Alex had some ideas for improvement. A story about a bunny who is sad because his friends appeared to forget his birthday? No. What Alex wanted was a doomsday action movie with lots of fighting. So the book you read here is Birthday Bunny, but with Alex’s pencil revisions and add-on illustrations (he’s a comprehensive young fellow — he’s even revised the copyright page). Now, if you don’t want to read a book with an explosives-loving zombie squirrel or poison snakes or a whole lot of fighting, maybe you shouldn’t read this one. But if you can handle all of this, the humor here is complex (in its way) and brilliantly executed. I myself made creative revisions like this as a child — and I still do it in my head, even as a grown-up, because it’s fun. I love this book. The first time I read it, I laughed so hard I cried.
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