I Didn’t See It Coming! Picture Books with Surprise Endings

Mom’s empty lap = Story Time.

Every time I sat down when my boys were little, they would come to me with arms full of books, and climb into my lap.  I usually didn’t mind, because I love picture books and I love reading aloud.  Some of the best were the ones with surprise endings or hidden jokes—and even though it wasn’t a surprise after the first reading (not to mention the 50th reading!), Alex and Nathan didn’t seem to mind.

Here are some new picture books that are great to read aloud and that will have your little listeners laughing with surprise.

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small. 9780803734135. 2012. Gr K-3.

Elliot is a dapper and proper young man, so he very politely agrees to go to family fun day at the zoo with his father, though he is not looking forward to the mobs of kids.  But he is so excited to discover the penguins (they remind Elliot of himself), that he pops the smallest one into his backpack and takes it home.  But how can he keep a penguin happy in his house?  Fortunately his father is clueless…or is he?  This already funny and charming story needed little to improve it, but the hilarious illustrations by David Small heighten the fun and make you wonder WHY you didn’t see that surprise ending coming!

Sophie’s Fish by A.E. Cannon, illustrated by Lee White. 9780670012916. 2012. Gr PK-2.

How hard can it be to babysit a fish?  When Sophie asks Jake to babysit her fish while she visits her gram over the weekend, he agrees without a thought.  But when he gets home, he starts to worry:  What kind of snacks do you feed a fish? Does it like to play games?  Will it need a bedtime story? This funny story is about a boy whose worrying turns a molehill into a mountain before he realizes that there is nothing to worry about…or is there?

Frog and Fly : Six Slurpy Stories by Jeff Mack. 9780399256172. Gr PK-2.

In this easy reader – picture book – graphic novel hybrid, Frog and Fly could be great friends, except that Frog thinks that Fly is delicious.  In each of the first five short, laugh-out-loud chapters, Frog and Fly are engaged in a battle of wits, with Frog unable to control his appetite. In the final chapter, Frog finds himself in Fly’s shoes.  This funny book is a great introduction to the Fly Guy series.

Dancing with the Dinosaurs by Jane Clarke, illustrated by Lee Wildish. 9781936140671. 2012. Gr PK-1.

Dinosaurs are the stars in this rockin’, jivin’ dance contest between prehistoric performers such as Spike Spinosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus and the Bone-head Breakers, and Tracey Triceratops.  They tap, disco, rumba, jig, moonwalk, and more—hoping to win first prize from the four small judges.  Oh no, make that three judges.  No…two!  What is happening to the judges while the dinos dance and dance?  Is someone hungry?

Pip’s Trip (Loopy Coop Hens) by Janet Morgan Stoeke. 9780803737082. 2012. Gr PK-1.

Pip and the other hens, Dot and Midge, watch the truck drive away, and wonder where it always goes. They decide that when it comes back, they will climb into the back and see the whole world.  But only Pip is brave enough to climb up, and when the noisy truck starts up, she loses her nerve, shuts her eyes, and hides her head under her wings. She hides and waits until the truck gets quiet, and then takes a peek to see where she has ended up.  Hmmm, this place looks just like her old farm!  This easy reader picture book tells a fun story of one hen’s adventure, and what she learns about herself.  And the illustrations, though simple, provide the hens with a great range of expressions and feelings.

Now 18 and 24, my boys no longer climb on my lap.  While I am grateful for that—they are both taller than I am—I do miss reading picture books to them. Sigh!

Blogger: Tracey L.