book list, humor, illustration

List: More Silly Books

The Panda Problem (Dial Books)
Written by Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by Hannah Marks

For ages: 3-7
Oh, this is a great one, taking a chance to parody the strict way children are taught about fictional narratives. The narrator tells us the panda has a big problem, but the character on the page responds that they are okay. But the narrator insists that every main character in a story has to have a problem for there to be a story. The panda decides to become the problem and does several things to irritate and drive the narrator crazy. I’m always a sucker for good metafiction, and this one is perfect in that regard. It does an excellent job of showing the skill of voice in writing.

Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book (Flamingo Books)
Written by Carrie Tillotson
Illustrated by Estrela Lourenço

For ages: 3-7
It’s a counting book in which Banana is incredibly mad that he doesn’t get to be the star. The invisible narrator tries to explain that this is a counting AND rhyming book, but Banana won’t have it. He stumbles across pages showing us 1 plum, 2 figs, 3 oranges, and 4 pigs and wants to know why he was omitted. Nothing really seems to rhyme with banana. As we count by ones from 1 to 20, then by tens to 100, Banana takes matters into his own hands and begins editing the book. However, many of his edits don’t go as he imagined, especially when “balloons” become “baboons.”

High Five (Dial Books)
Written by Adam Rubin
Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

For ages: 3-7
The author of Dragons Love Tacos is at it again. The 75th Annual High Five Tournament is set to begin. We meet the competitors like Gigantic the Bear and Kangaroo Paul while being given various tips on hand-slapping techniques. The reader is followed by an old yeti who used to be the champ and gives encouragement like Rocky’s trainer Mickey. We even get pages where a massive paw or hand takes up most of the space, allowing us to try a new high-five style or sharpen our skills. This could be one of those books that takes a lot of wear & tear as a result.

This Book Will Not Be Fun (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Written by Cirocco Dunlap
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec

For ages: 3-7
You’ll need to read everything here, starting with the front cover and continuing with the inside flap of the book jacket. Every possible surface is a piece in this reading experience. It’s tough to describe the plot of this book, it has none, but that is the point. As the book changes shape and the art style transforms, the reader is disoriented enjoyably. The book keeps trying to get to its main story but is constantly sidetracked by distractions. First, there’s a Word-Eating Flying Whale that crashes the party. Later, a Glow-in-the-dark Kung Fu Worm draws readers’ attention away to its luminescent footprints. Pure silliness.

The Bear Who Wasn’t There (Roaring Brook Press)
Written & Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

For ages: 3-7
Duck wants us to know from the start that we will not see Bear in this book. He’s very jealous because there are already so many books about bears, but more is needed about ducks. As readers turn the pages searching for Bear, they come across other animals. In one instance, they stumble upon a giraffe sitting on the toilet who shoos us away. We do find Boar, who is holding a pear…but that’s not Bear. The shadow of a fearsome ursine is cast on the wall…but it’s just some other Ducks making a pyramid. Will Bear ever show his face, or our we with Duck, enough bears already!

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Written & Illustrated by Bob Shea

For ages: 3-7
Similarly to our last book, Goat feels that Unicorn always gets more attention, and it’s unfair. Before Unicorn showed up, Goat was doing pretty good. Now when Goat makes marshmallow squares for his friends, Unicorn has beaten him to the punch by making rainbow cupcakes. A simple magic trick from Goat is overshadowed by Unicorn turning things into gold. However, there are things about Goat that Unicorn envies, all stemming from a slice of goat cheese pizza. This silly book does an excellent job of teaching the crucial lesson that “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Tell Me a Lion Story (Candlewick)
Written & Illustrated by Kara Kramer

For ages: 4-8
A little girl wakes up her napping dad so he can tell her a story. She wants it to be about a lion, but nothing the parent says seems to be the story the child wants. After a few failed attempts, the dad turns it back to his daughter by throwing out incomplete sentences with blanks for her to fill in. The book is a Mad Libs-style tale that promises multiple read-throughs delivering different versions of the story. The illustrations are a fantastic melange of mixed media that brings in fragments of the dad’s newspaper and the little girl’s crayon drawings. 

Have You Seen This Book? (Philomel Books)
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi
Illustrated by Tom Booth

For ages: 4-8
The narrator, a little brown-skinned boy, has made posters to search for a missing book. To help us find the book, he goes into the details of the characters, setting, and plot. He describes it cover to cover, page by page, the whole thing. What happens is that readers get two stories in one, the narrative of the boy looking for the book and the entire contents of the book itself. That leaves us wondering, is the book missing, or have we been holding it in our hands this whole time?

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