Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Laugh Out Loud Funny Books

Two of my favorite picture books this year were funny ones. My daughter and I cracked up everytime we read them. Both are perfect toddler books.

Written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Candlewick, 2007

One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. It’s simple—lots of white space. But Penguin is simply portrayed and the title of the book is cleverly designed with the letters cut out of other materials.

Ben receives a stuffed penguin for a present. Ben talks constantly to the penguin and wants him to talk back. Ben does everything—tickles him, makes a funny face, sings, dances, but nothing will make Penguin talk. Ben even shoots him into outer space. When Penguin comes back, he still doesn’t talk. Ben tries to feed the Penguin to a blue lion. Lion doesn’t want to eat Penguin. Finally Ben has had it. He lets loose and yells. The lion gobbles him up. Penguin finally does SOMETHING. He bites Lion on the nose and out pops Ben. Finally a speech bubble appears, but instead of words appear pictures of all the things Penguin and Ben have done together. And Ben understands what Penguin is saying.

One of my favorite funny books of the year! And kids who love their stuffed animals and believe they are real will LOVE this book.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
Written and illustrated by Kevin Sherry
Dial Books, 2007

The first thing I noticed about this picture book is the size. It is oversized. It’s a big book to hold. It is the perfect book for three year olds, but it almost too big for them to hold themselves.

A giant squid, up close and personal, appears on the cover. The endpapers are a fascinating two-color conglomeration of different animals in the ocean.
The whole books is told from the point of view of the giant squid, who brags about all of the animals that he can swallow because he’s the biggest thing in the ocean. The text is very simple and it repeats the same phrase over and over again, “I’m bigger than these ___________” Fill in the blank with various sea creatures that he eats.

Toddlers will love this book for several reasons: 1) It captures the way they think. They like to compare size of things, especially how they are bigger than _______ (fill in the blank).
2) Toddlers will love the oversize pictures that really make you feel like the giant squid is larger-than-life.
3) Toddlers will be able to “read” this book to themselves because the phrases repeat themselves and they can identify the pictures to fill in the blanks.

In the end, the giant squid gets eaten by a whale. For a short moment he realizes it’s possible he’s not so big after all. Then he gets a bright idea. He looks around at the contents of the whale’s stomach and realizes that, “I’m thing biggest thing in this whale!” It’s a laugh out loud funny book!
Both of these books were nominated in the Cybils fiction picture book category.

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