Thursday, November 15, 2007

Funniest Children's Books

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot by Dav PilkeyNational Children's Book Week is November 12-18 so I'm posting more on children's literature. If I can read a book that makes me laugh I'm going to enjoy the experience even more so here are the funniest children's books I've found (though humor is a rather transient, mutable thing and what's funny today may not be funny in 30 years).

1. The Ricky Ricotta series. Written by Dav Pilkey of "Captain Underpants" fame (not one of my favorite series as I get enough underwear jokes in my life as it is thankyouverymuch) but Ricky is fun because it's reminiscent of a comic book which is great for early readers yet good for a chuckle or two from the adults. Ricky Ricotta battles Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury, Voodoo Vultures from Venus, Mecha-Monkies from Mars, Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter, Stupid Stinkbugs from Saturn and Uranium Unicorns from Uranus. With villains like that, you know you're going to enjoy them.

A Series of Unfortunate Events2. A Series of Unfortunate Events. Written by Lemony Snickett (if that IS his real name) it's a rather amusing series that's made downright funny when it's an audio book narrated by Tim Curry. You have to be careful because there are some of the series in the audio book collection that are narrated by the author who has such a bland, American (what's up with that? I was sure he was British) sleepy voice that it's painful to endure. But when Tim Curry reads it has laugh-out-loud parts.

3. The BFG. Roald Dahl has plenty of classics to his credit but this one is his funniest. BFG stands for "Big Friendly Giant" who is the protagonist in this fantasy tale. If you like Dahl's work this one is a must-read.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka4. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka's fractured fairytale is a funny twist on the storybook favorite--make the villain the hero and you're guaranteed an audience (worked for Milton, right?)

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas5. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Written by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury this story is another twist on the story of the three pigs but even funnier than the last. The Big Bad Pig terrorizes the poor little wolves and they up their security system in an effort to protect themselves. The part that has me on the floor is when the pig brings out the pneumatic drill in an attempt to bust through the wolves' concrete edifice. Very funny.

The Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieszka6. The Time-Warp Trio series. Another Jon Scieszka endeavor, this series follows three friends through time as they work to save the world before dinner. Again, the titles are terrific: See You Later, Gladiator, Viking It and Liking It, Your Mother Was a Neanderthal, It's Greek to Me and (my favorite) The Not-So-Jolly Roger. A good early chapter book series.

Superfudge by Judy Blume7. Superfudge. Judy Blume wasn't one of my favorite authors but her Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge and Superfudge books are downright chucklesome. When Peter Hatcher's pet turtle disappears and Fudge is suspect it cracks me up every time. There are five books in this series and these three are the best but they're comedy for the whole family and a good "read aloud" choice.

8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Beverly Robinson's classic Christmas tale has made the Herdmans legendary. Unequivocally considered the worst children in the history of the world this touching story tells how Ralph, Imogene and the rest of the seven kids take over the local Christmas pageant with their "post modern" interpretation.  There's a sequel too but I can't remember its title.

9. The Ramona series. I have loved Beverly Cleary's books since I was in third grade when my teacher Mrs. Tecca introduced me to them and when I was in fifth grade Beverly Cleary came to Anchorage. The local paper had a contest to write a letter explaining which of her books you liked the most and I wrote a letter to Ramona and I won. They published the letter in the paper and I got to meet Mrs. Cleary.  Woo hoo! Ramona names her doll Chevrolet, causes problems for the neighborhood children and is generally hysterical. In many ways my own little Lillian reminds me of her. Otis Spofford is also another funny story of Cleary's.

Sitting Ducks by Michael Bedard10. Sitting Ducks. This terrifically funny picture book by Michael Beddard is a family favorite. It chronicles the friendship of a duck and an alligator and reminds me a bit of The Wrong Trousers if you ever saw that Wallace and Gromit film. Pay close attention to the artwork that graces the alligator's apartment walls.

Owen by Kevin Henkes11. Owen by Kevin Henkes. Owen is the story of a boy--or a mouse--with a strong attachment to his blanket and when the family's interfering neighbor expresses her concern over the matter Owen's parents decide that some tough love is in order. When the separation anxiety becomes too great Owen's mother solves the problem with a creative solution that even Mrs. Tweezers can't condemn. Both illustrations and narrative are just wonderful.

The Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Parks12. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I should just put all of Henkes' books on the list because they're all funny, but these two are the best. Chrysanthemum has an extraordinarily long name that causes her some concern when she begins school but after meeting her teacher Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle things begin to look better. Love this book.

13. The Junie B. Jones series. Barbara Parks is as good as a stand-up comic when it comes to these books, and every one of the books makes me laugh, though if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket. Her chicken phobia kills me. Each of my kids have loved the series and I've read many many MANY of these and they never get old.

***

Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series is an honorable mention, they've always been one of my favorite series. Additionally, I heard an interview on NPR last month with Steve Martin who has recently written an alphabet book called The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z and thought it sounded rather entertaining. What else would you expect from Steve Martin?

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49 comments:

Cocoa said...

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig is my husband's favorite book to read to the kids.

MissMeliss said...

Oh, fabulous list. Would any of these be appropriate for 6- or 8-year-old boys? I'm looking for Christmas ideas for my nephews.

Scribbit said...

Miss Meliss--it depends on how well they read I suppose. If they're just starting to read independently, the Ricky Ricotta would be fun. My son like Junie B. Jones too which is just a step up though it is about a girl.

If they're more independent and have read other chapter books the Ramona, Superfudge, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and BFG would work well. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a step up further.

Kate Davies said...

Great list! My daughters love many of the books on this list -- esp. The BFG and Junie B Jones books.

grace said...

I am curious about the book about the three little wolves!

Pieces of Me said...

Wow, I'm going to check out some of these titles. I love that Miss Piggle Wiggle. Nice job.

Raggedy said...

I am going to have to check some of these out!
Thanks.
Terrific Thursday Thirteen!
My TT is posted.
Have a wonderful day!
Happy TT'ing!
*^_^
(=':'=)
(")_ (")Š
Raggedy

jenn said...

I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary as a child. My 10 year old daughter has almost every Junie B. Jones book. She loves them.
happy tt!

Mrs Mecomber said...

The Ramona series are hilarious. One of the funniest kids' books we've ever read is "Martha Speaks" by... Susan somebody. We read it while waiting at the dentist's office. They probably thought the laughing gas leaked out or something...

Amy W said...

I can't wait until my daughters start reading the Ramona books..

Amber said...

I am just entering this zone of non-board books and I love the referrals. This page, bookmarked!

a writer's woolgatherings said...

Great list! We own most of these books, and I *love* the Junie B. Jones series. My son enjoys Owen because, well, it's about a blanket! I'm getting ready to perform major surgery on his beloved blankie, and he was rather hesitant to consent until we read this story together. Whew!

sarah said...

The some of the funniest children's books I've ever read are by Gordon Korman. (He's a Canadian, so he doesn't get a wide readership). I especially recommend I Want to Go Home, The Twinkie Squad, and the Burno and Boots Series.

Also wanted to say that I've become a huge fan of your blog, just discovered it, but now it's a morning routine. Thanks!

Yen said...

WOW! what a great list! I should check the others I don't have yet too:)
Mine is up here;
Yen's TT
Happy TT!

slpenney said...

For those that loved Judy Blume as a kid, you should check out "Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume" edited by Jennifer O'Connell. It's a collection of essay by chick lit and ya authors about their favorite parts of Judy Blume books. I loved hearing about books that I read, the parts that I didn't remember (or catch the first time around) and books that I didn't remember being Judy Blume.

I love so many of the titles on this list, I could go on and on.

Magpie said...

The Steve Martin / Roz Chast book is terrific.

Lisa Milton said...

Thanks for the Ricky Ricotta suggestion. I've been looking for something funny for Zack.

Darla said...

I loved The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the Time Warp Trio from reading them with my kids, and the Ramona series and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle from my own childhood. My youngest liked the A Series of Unfortunate Events books and my middle child liked The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but I haven't read those.

Ones I find absolutely hilarious are the Wayside School series and the Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar, the Space Brat series by Bruce Coville, and the Commander Toad series by Jane Yolen.

We used to have a family tradition--Sunday afternoons, we'd go out for "kaffee & kuchen" (coffee & cake--though the kids didn't drink coffee, and often the "cake" was ice cream, but you get the idea), and then afterwards to a book store. If they'd finished all their chores for the week, they'd get a book. We have quite the library of kids' books as a result. :)

Mayberry said...

Great choices! We loooove Owen. "And Mrs. Tweezers didn't say a thing." Best ending line!

Christine said...

Michelle, this is a wondeful list. My kids love the 'True Story of the 3 Little Pigs'. My oldest daughter has read the whole series of Unfortunate events. Some of the other books are new to me, I'm going to have to check them out.

Lara said...

Wonderful list! We love Kevin Henkes' books around here. I think we have most of them, if not all. I'd have to say our favorite is Lilly's purple plastic purse, though.

My 7 year old is obsessed with Junie B. I love that it gets her to read a lot. :)

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

We love Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig and I grew up on Ramona and Superfudge. Abby's just getting into the Junie B. Jones books and I'm looking forward to borrowing (stealing) them from her to read. :)

Marie N. said...

I have not read most of these. I found many of them in my library system and put in my requests.

With all the school books, fun books and knitting books I have requested lately I'll need to drive that short walk to the library so I can transport them all home!

Amber said...

One of our family favorites is Kevin Henkes' (Owen's author) "Julius is the Baby of the World." It is a great one for families expecting their second baby. I laugh herder than the kids whenever I read it.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Great list...

Also try "Runny Babbit" by Shel Silverstein...the tongue-twisting always makes our little one bust out laughing.

jubilee said...

This is a great list and I'm heading out to the library to check some of them out. I loved the Ramona series growing up, but had forgotten about it. My oldest son may be just old enough to appreciate them now. Thanks for the reminder.

ellen b said...

I loved Mrs. Piggy-Wiggle back in the day...
Happy TT...

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

We LOVED LOVED LOVED Chrysanthemum. That was our favorite of the Henkes books.

I'm curious about Olive's Ocean...I wonder if Maya has outgrown those?

To MissMeliss, when my daughter was that age, she LOVED the Dahl books (still does), and the Magic Tree House books, but especially the Dahl books. Those can crack her up, years later, just thinking about them.

Babystepper said...

Several of these were favorites of mine from childhood (superfudge, Ramona) and several are already popular here with my little chitlins. (Sitting Ducks, Three Little Wolves)

Mercy's Maid said...

Good selections!

I love the Snicket books.

Thea said...

Great list, as always.

Do the Junie B. Jones' have rude stuff in it. I keep hearing mixed reviews on thiese.

Daisy said...

#8 is one of my favorites. I've read it aloud to my classes at times, too; they always love the humor. Last year, their reactions touched my heart.

Terri said...

I love book recommendations. Many of these we've read, but there are a few on your list that I'm going to have to definitely check out.

I did a list of favorite children's books, too, but I wasn't aware that it was National Children's Book week. How convenient.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I still remember Judy Blume's Super Fudge!!! I laughed so hard as a kid when I read that.

We read #12 all of the time!

Heather said...

Great list! I just pulled out my copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever the other day for my son. I can't wait for him to read it! I'll have to check some of these others out!

The Preacher's Wife said...

We are total Lemony Snicket fans..:)

Fresh Girl said...

Numbers 7, 8, and 9 are some of my very favorite childhood books! Can't wait to introduce them to my nephew. :)

Nicholas said...

Nice to see the 3 Little Pigs still going strong!

damozel said...

Though it's been many years since there was a child in my house, I still have the Ramona, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and all the Beverly Cleary books I can find on my shelves; and why?

:whispers/:Forty years later, I still read them:\whispers:

Shalee said...

I also would add "The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down." Both my kids and I laugh when we read it.

And as an adult funny read, I loved Steve Martin's "Pleasure of My Company." It had me laughing out loud often.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Thanks for this. I'll look out for the Ricky Ricotta books and some of the others. We also love Sitting Ducks and the BFG.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Hank Zipzer Series is my son's favorite. They are hilarious :)

(kids with LD can relate)

An Ordinary Mom said...

My husband loves reading Keri the Junie B. Jones books ... although we do correct the grammar :) !!

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

gauegmichelle,
where are the BOGUS kid books (titles) that you came up with the other day. now that was funny what you did :) kathleen

Alexandra said...

I just won the entire A Series of Unfortunate Events series off ebay for Christmas. My nine year old son loves them! I got tired of borrowing them from the library over and over. He re-reads books a lot.

Shauna said...

We like several of these too, and Mo Willems is a favorite. Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct is great! We also love the Happy Hocky Family books and most of John Sciezka & Lane Smith's.

Shauna said...

I was so disappointed in the conclusion to Unfortunate Events but agree that the Tim Curry audiobooks are great fun. (BTW, Lemony Snicket is aka Daniel Handler.)

chickadee said...

i love so many of those: owen, chrysanthemum, lemony snickett... great list.
oh, another favorite you may have missed: frindle. we love it.

Hairx said...

Hmmm really great i like it list.