Enjoy a laugh while reading a book!
Almond, David. The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon. Candlewick Press, 2010.
A young English boy is helped by a ladder, his parents and his neighbours when he tries to prove that the moon is a hole in the sky. This joyous story will be enjoyed by fans of Sharon Creech, Roald Dahl, Johanna Hurwitz and Patricia MacLachlan. (Humorous stories, Fantasy fiction; Adventure and adventurers; England; Moon)
Barnett, Mac. The Skunk. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015.
Why does that skunk keep following me? How will I get away? Wait a minute! What will happen if I follow it?
This humorous story – written by a best-selling author and illustrated by award-winning Patrick McDonnell – has analogies to real life that will appeal to observant readers. The straight-forward text and the elegantly simple pictures combine to create a picture book for all ages. (P.S. Observant readers may want to analyze the use of colour in this sophisticated story.)
Bloor, Edward. Story Time. New York: Harcourt, 2004.
George and Kate are selected to attend a special school that is proud of itself for having the highest test scores in the country. But what is lost when daily testing and constant pressure replace joyful learning? Mystery, suspense, and humour all combine in this engaging novel suitable for readers 12 years old and up. [Schools; Family life; Eccentrics and eccentricities; Corruption; Ghosts; Humorous stories]
Cali, Davide. The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2016.
What did you do this summer? A boy energetically responds with a wild tale of world travels.
The author of numerous picture books, including The Enemy: A Book about Peace, Cali excels in creating alternate visions of reality. Highly recommended for readers 7 to 11 years old.
Cole, Brock. Good Enough to Eat. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
A tall tale, a folktale, a cautionary tale… When an ogre threatens a town, the people offer him a young girl. Scraps-and-Smells is poor and homeless, the perfect person to give away, they think. But she outwits them all. A marvellous story reminiscent of The Little Red Hen but far more joyful, this picture book is recommended for readers 7 years old and up who like to see people get their comeuppance.
P.S. Anything written and illustrated by Brock Cole is worth reading. Look for his books!
Colfer, Eoin. Imaginary Fred. New York: Harper, 2015.
Loneliness is awful. An imaginary friend might help. But what if a real friend come along? What will happen to the imaginary friend? How will he feel?
This delightful picture book by an absolutely brilliant team – Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – is pure joy. The fanciful story and whimsical illustrations will bring laughter to readers of all ages. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley (Kane/Miller, 2008; Gecko Press, 2007).
Calm snake and excitable lizard are more than friends. They are teammates. They have adventures together, get mad at each other, appreciate each other and finally start their own business together – helping some of the other animals in the desert. If you enjoyed George and Martha stories by James Marshall and Frog and Toad stories by Arnold Lobel, you will laugh your way through this heart-warming, easy-to-read novel from New Zealand.
Cowley, Joy. Stories of the Wild West Gang. Wellington, NZ: Gecko Press, 2012.
Michael would far rather be having adventures with his cousins than staying at home with his quiet, proper mum and dad. This lengthy collection of 10 hilarious stories, originally published separately, will appeal to readers who enjoy laughing. A great read-aloud for grades 2 to 4! [New Zealand; Cousins; Humorous fiction; Adventure and adventurers; Family life]
Cuevas, Michelle. The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant. New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011.
Pigeon Jones, abandoned as a baby, is found and raised by Birch, a white, former circus elephant who paints beautiful pictures, and through their travels and adventures they discover the meanings of love and family. – CIP This humourous fable will be enjoyed by readers ten years old and up. [Orphans; Love; Humorous stories; Voyages and travels; Elephants; Fantasy fiction]
The Witches by Ronald Dahl (Puffin Books, 1983) is a wonderful tale of adventure, mystery and laughter. The story is set in England and Norway where witches are their own species and their only goal in life is to rid the world of children. The main character is the never-named “boy” whose grandmother grew up with witches changing kids into pictures, porpoises and statues. To help her grandson avoid that frightful fate, she tells him all she knows about witches.
After “boy’s” first encounter with a witch, he and his grandmother travel to Bournemouth, England for a relaxing vacation. In the hotel, “boy” sneaks into a large, empty conference room for some quiet, unaware that soon the room will be filled with members of the RSPCC (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Unfortunately, the group in the conference room is actually the annual England witches’ convention!
Reading this story, I felt all sorts of emotions: excitement, horror and curiosity. Reading it kept me up all night wondering what would happen next. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a good laugh. (Roshan in grade eight)
Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Phineas L. MacGuire Erupts! New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2007, c2006.
“Fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire is forced to team up with the new boy in class on a science fair project, but the boy’s quirky personality causes Phineas to wonder if they have any chance of winning.” – CIP. Large print and widely-spaced lines makes this an easy-to-read novel. But the lively humour by this outstanding writer makes this novel appealing for anyone who wants to relax and laugh for awhile. Highly recommended. [Schools; Science projects; Friendship]
Falatko, Julie and Gabriel Alborozo. Yours In Books. Petaluma, CA: Cameron Kids, an imprint of Cameron + Company, 2021.
Owl is tired of all the visitors disturbing the peace and quiet of his life in the forest. So he writes a letter to Squirrel, the owner of a bookstore, to request a book on how to soundproof his home. Squirrel replies. Unfortunately, that book is out of stock. How about a different book? And so begins a correspondence, a friendship, and a slow realization that perhaps guests aren’t so awful, after all. Perhaps a party, even, could be fun. An absolutely brilliant picture book. Highly recommended for anyone of any age who would enjoy some light-hearted humour!
P.S. The book titles in the story hilariously summarize the relationship between Owl and Squirrel. After reading the book, you might like to summarize your own relationships with friends by making up imaginary book titles.
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl Go Exploring. Toronto: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Buddy, a dog, and Earl, a hedgehog, continue the adventures they started in Buddy and Earl. These joyful picture books provide unique perspectives on everyday life and will delight both the adults who read them aloud and the children who listen.
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester (R. R. Donnelley and Sons, 2008) is a high-flying novel about an unnatural girl called Piper McCloud who lives with her normal ma and pa on a normal farm in normal Lowland County. Fascinated by her newfound powers, she has to decide between two paths. She can help her friends escape I.N.S.A.N.E., the institute that makes children forget about their powers, or she can stay and become normal, like her ma and pa, like her farm, like all of Lowland County. Because she wants to help her friends and to keep her powers, she decides to escape. But what what would have happened if she had stayed? (Liam in grade eight)
Gravett, Emily. Tidy. London: Two Hoots, 2016.
Pete, a badger, likes everything to be neat and tidy. So he starts cleaning up his forest. Grooming the animals, sweeping the ground, polishing the rocks…even pulling up the trees. Oh dear! Pete has gotten carried away. How will he put everything right again? This humorous story-in-rhyme will amuse children in primary grades.
Hopkinson, Deborah. The Story of a Story. New York: Holiday House, 2021.
Do you ever get stuck when you are trying to write a story or an essay or even a short paragraph? You might have ideas but how do you find the right words? Should you keep trying or simply give up and walk away? This beautifully designed picture book humorously presents the dilemma and offers a straight-forward solution. At the end, an outline is provided for readers ready to write their own story. Recommended without reservations for writers of all ages.
Horvath, Polly. Very Rich. New York: Puffin, 2018.
Ten-year-old Rupert is hungry and neglected. Neither of his parents care for him. But one Christmas he’s invited into the wealthy home of an eccentric family. Suddenly, his life is completely changed. If you’ve read other stories by Polly Horvath, you know that at least a little wackiness is ahead. Be ready for the unexpected! [Eccentrics and eccentricities; Family life; Ohio; Paranormal; Poverty; Wealth]
Jennings, Patrick. Odd, Weird & Little. New York: Egmont, 2014.
“Befriending a very strange new student, Toulouse, helps outsider Woodrow stand up to the class bullies who have been picking on them both.” – CIP Recommended for readers seven to ten years old. [Bullying, Eccentrics and eccentricities; Friendship; Humorous stories, Schools]
Johnston, Tony. Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
Blue jeans. Almost everyone wears them. But how did they get invented? This rollicking picture book illustrated by the award-winning artist Stacy Innerst is sure to be a delight for lovers of legends and tall tales. Lively verbs and figures of speech speed the action along. Expressive pictures painted on denim fabric add humour, and an afterword explains the true story of Levi Strauss. Teachers will enjoy sharing this with students, and parents will have fun sharing it with their children. Recommended for readers looking for an opportunity to laugh aloud.
Kerley, Barbara. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.
“This is a frank biographer and an honest one; she uses no sandpaper on me.” That’s what Mark Twain said about his own daughter, who secretly – when she was thirteen years old – kept a journal about her adored papa. Author Barbara Kerley tells the whole story in this intriguing picture book biography. Varying-sized fonts, humorous full-page illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, and sample diary entries complete with misspellings help to tell this delightful account of one of the most well-known American writers. A timeline, author’s note, and tips for writing a biography complete this picture book highly recommended for all who have enjoyed the tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Have you ever felt embarrassed? Have you ever felt flustered? Then you’ll know how the main character feels in the novel Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. Greg is embarrassed. He feels this way when he has to wear a wrestling uniform in gym class, in front of his friends. All of the other kids in his class have to wear one, but Greg is especially flustered. He feels flustered because he is out of shape, and the wrestling uniform makes him look very skinny. What should he do? What will he do? Read this hilarious novel to find out! (Callum in grade eight)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, 2009) is a hilarious book about a boy named Greg, an indoor person who is forced outside by his mom. His summer starts off good when he goes to the country club every day, but then he is kicked out and has to go to the terrifying town pool where he has nothing but bad memories. With so many twists and turns, Greg learns to be less of an indoor person and more of an outdoor type of guy. So if you want to have lots of good laughs and learn about Greg’s rollercoaster of a summer, read this gut-busting story! (Kobe)
Lekich, John. The Prisoner of Snowflake Falls. Victoria: Orca: 2012.
Henry Holloway lives in a tree house. Every since his mother has died and his uncle has been sent to prison, he has been hiding out in the backyard of an elderly woman. When he is caught breaking into homes for food and money, the judge sends him away from Vancouver to a small town on northern Vancouver Island to live with an eccentric family. This is an entirely wacky novel, a story that should irritate but instead is purely funny. All the characters are endearing, the writing has great rhythm, and the plot line moves along quickly enough that readers won’t want to put the book down until the end. An entertaining novel for students in grade seven and up. [Foster children; Juvenile delinquents; Theft; Family life; Eccentrics and eccentricities; British Columbia; Humorous stories]
McDonnell, Patrick. Shine! New York: Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
“I wish I were…” Somewhere else. Someone else. Something else. Little Hoshi wishes and wishes she were not a humble little sea star in the ocean. Until she learns, of course, that happiness is to be found right where we are and possibilities always surround us. This delightful picture book – illustrated by Naoko Stoop – is another heart-warming and inspiring story by the creator of the Mutts comic strips. Highly recommended as a read-aloud – for listeners 4 years old and up – and for anyone who needs a humorous reminder that we all can shine.
Sallie Gal and the Wall-a-kee Man by Shelia P. Moses (Scholastic Press, 2007).
Set in North Carolina, this easy-to-read novel describes that difficult time in life when you have to start earning money to get the things you want. Sallie Gal wants ribbons for her hair. But her mother cannot afford them. So Sallie Gal and her cousin decide to sell lemonade and earn enough money to buy their own ribbons from the travelling salesman who regularly stops by their house. Based on the author’s own African American childhood, this heartwarming story is suitable for children starting to read novels and adults who remember their own first lessons on the importance of honesty. (Ms. Rosen)
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Atheneum, 2006) is about a young girl, Lucky, who is adventurous and loves to explore. She especially loves examining the insects around her trailer which is set in a circle of trailers in a small town with a tiny museum. Lucky is very caring and very sociable. It is easy for her to make friends, which is fortunate because Lucky’s mother tragically died two years before the story starts and her father has disappeared. Now she’s living with her father’s former girlfriend who comes from France and had only planned to take care of Lucky until she could find her a wonderful foster family. But Bridget is finding that Lucky is growing on her.
What happens? Well, you now have to read this amazing novel and go on your own adventure, like I did. The Higher Power of Lucky is extremely powerful in its depiction of life’s challenges. If Ms. Rosen hadn’t recommended it, I probably wouldn’t have checked this book out and discovered what you can find behind a book cover. I loved the experience. Now it’s your turn. (Londyn in grade 7)
Patron, Susan. Lucky Breaks. Atheneum, 2009.
“‘Abandoned or condemned,’ Lucky repeated softly, thinking how sad those words sounded, how lonely. They could be words about wells, and they could be words about people” (p. 4). In this sequel to The Higher Power of Lucky, Lucky makes a new friend – Paloma – while continuing to have adventures in the desert around Hard Pan, California. Turning eleven years old, she is full of imagination, curiosity and laughter, but she is only a beginner at letting herself be loved by her adopted mom, Brigitte, and her old friends, Lincoln and Miles. (Ms. Rosen)
Peck, Richard. A Season of Gifts. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009.
Twelve-year-old Bob Barnhart and his family move to move to a small Illinois town in 1958 when Bob’s father becomes the minister of a derelict church. But his loneliness is eased and life becomes adventurous when he meets their new neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel. (Moving, Household; Historical fiction; Family life; Faith; Illinois; Humorous stories] (Ms. Rosen)
Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine, Friend of the Week. Disney • Hyperion, 2010.
Reading Clementine stories will surely bring smiles to the faces of readers who have enjoyed Russell Hoban’s Frances and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona. In this episode, Clementine comes up with all sorts of ways to get her classmates to write wonderful comments about her, discovers her friend Margaret isn’t as confident as she appears, and loses her kitten called Moisturizer. She learns that everyone feels hurt sometimes, and that hurt feelings are part of being human. A great read-aloud for students in grades two and three, this novel is sure to appeal to anyone with a fondness for funny stories about rambunctious children. (Ms. Rosen)
Perkins, Lynne Rae. Nuts to You. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2014.
When Jed – a squirrel – is snatched up by a hawk, his friends Chai and TsTs give chase. The three adventurers find each other, meet new squirrels, and save the day when they realize their neighbourhood is about to be destroyed. The lovable characters, the fast-paced plot, the ironic tone, and the explanatory drawings make this a brilliantly humorous story for listeners and readers 5 years old and up. “A good story makes a journey go by more quickly. A really good story makes you forget you are even on a journey” (162).
The Adventures of Captain Underpants is the first book in a series by Dave Pilkey. It is about two boys named Harold and George who hypnotize their principal into becoming Captain Underpants. They thought it was funny at first, but then he jumped out the window. He tried to stop a robbery, and you could say he kind of succeeded when the robbers looked at him and fell down laughing. Soon the cops showed up and arrested the robbers. They were about to arrest Captain Underpants, but George and Harold took him away. Then an explosion appeared at the rare gems store and the Captain tried to stop them, but his cape got stuck on the back of the van. The Captain got himself captured by the evil Dr. Diaper, and George and Harold got to destroy the robots and save Captain Underpants. (Quinton in grade eight)
Pilkey, Dave. Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds). Scholastic, 1999.
This book is funny, easy to read and has fun flip-o-ramas. It is about two boys named George and Harold who hypnotize their principal into becoming Captain Underpants, the hero from their homemade comics. At first it’s funny, but then the boys get into trouble. Not once, but twice! After they get the cafeteria ladies to quit, three aliens-in-disguise fill in and turn everyone into Zombie nerds except for the principal and the two boys. More adventures follow until George and Harold finally give everyone antizombie nerd drink. Read this crazy story if you like to laugh uproariously! (Quinton in grade eight)
Raschka, Chris. The Doorman’s Repose. New York: New York Review Books, 2017.
What goes on in a New York City apartment building? What secrets are hiding behind all the doors? What goes on in the lives of little creatures – such as mice? How do the machines that keep the building running feel? This collection of 10 interconnected short stories – by an astonishingly talented storyteller – will amaze and amuse readers 10 years old and up.
One student in grade six, Russ, wrote about The Doorman’s Repose by Chris Raschka (New York Review, 2017). “What makes this book so unusual?” he wrote. “In this book, mice act like people! How humorous! Like the mice, I’ve discovered that some vacations can turn into ordeals. Once, we went to Toronto, and we got lost on the way to our cousins’ house. It took us two days to find the proper route and by that time most of our vacation had passed.”
Later, after reading the chapter about pigeons in this novel about an apartment building in New York City, he wrote, “Moping pigeons cause the gravity to shift. What a ridiculous idea! In my lifetime, I have had some quite ridiculous ideas. One time I had an idea that if I went into a locked trunk, I would see all the mechanisms of the car. So I locked myself into the trunk and felt disappointed. There was no mechanism. Only after awhile did I realize I was running out of air. I screamed and kicked. Somehow my body hit an unlocking trunk button. So I was safe.”
Reeve, Philip and Sarah McIntyre. Oliver and the Sea Monkeys. New York : Yearling, 2016, c2013.
Oliver finds more than he could have imagined when he sets out to find his missing parents in this easy-to-read adventure story for readers 9 years old and up. [England; Fantasy fiction; Islands; Mermaids]
Usher, Sam. Wild. Somerville, Massachusetts: Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2021.
Whenever I see a picture book by Candlewick, I pick it up and take a look. This picture book is such fun that it’s worth picking up again and again. At least it is if you know cats. And like cats. A little boy wakes up to a ‘take care of the cat’ day with his grandfather. Sounds easy. Until the cat arrives with its own ideas. Like all great picture books, the illustrations – full of delightful details – tell as much as the words. Highly recommended for cat lovers 4 to 11 years old. P.S. If you have a new baby in the house, you might like to read this book, too.
Wehrli, Ursus. The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013.
What if everything was taken apart? Organized? Put in order? How would the world look then? A humorous wordless book highly recommended for all ages!
Yolen, Jane and Mark Teague. How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? New York: The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2018.
Cheerful, zany, full of huge colourful imaginary dinosaurs, this is the twelfth book in the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series. Beautifully designed and illustrated – with large full-page illustrations and a large font – this story told in rhyme is recommended for parents and teacher-librarians of children 3 to 6 years old.