Absurd is the Word
For me, there is nothing quite like reading a really funny picture book to a child, or better yet, group of children. Humor may bring the more reticent kids out of their shell, and allow the more raucous kids an acceptable opportunity to “let loose”. Plus, it is a good thing to show kids your goofy side as well, and a book gives you a good excuse to do that. Here are some new and upcoming titles that I have found to be funny, and kids should as well!
Lion Lessons by Jon Agee. 9780803739086. July 2016. Gr PS-3.
Ever wanted to be like the King of the Jungle? Well, becoming a lion is what motivates the protagonist in Lion Lessons. Responding to a storefront window advertising that it takes only “7 Easy Steps” to become a lion, he walks in, dons a lion costume, and begins his lessons with a real lion teacher. I am not going to tell you all of the seven easy steps, but it does involve lots of roaring, prowling, and even some yoga (of course).
Agee’s simple, yet expressive, artwork is charming, and this one will have readers roaring (pun intended) with laughter and enthusiastically using their imagination.
President Squid by Aaron Reynolds and Sara Varon (ill.). 9781452136479. 2016. Gr K-3.
You may have heard that we are in an election cycle. I am not sure that this book is any more absurd than the current state of U.S. politics, even with this one featuring a talking squid. This squid is not a timid, satisfied ocean-dweller, though. This is an egomaniacal, pushy, condescending sort of squid. At one point, he says, “Let’s go over this once more, for those of you who are a little slow.” But, the joke is on him, because he thinks one becomes presidential only by telling others what to do, living in a big house, and wearing a tie. But the others ignore him, and only when he becomes less pushy and more helpful do they see him as possibly presidential.
This book ends up being a good lesson on how to treat others, and what it means to be a good leader.
Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John and Bob Shea (ill.). 9780385389914. Aug. 2016. Gr PS-2.
The monster here is definitely creepy-looking. He has long, claw-like fingers and toes, fangs, horns, and a full-body tangle of purple hair. And he acts like a monster, too. He lurks, he scares, he does the stereotypical “hiding under your bed” thing. But he is sensitive, too, and he takes offense at being called a monster. He has a name, after all, and it’s Floyd Peterson.
The story is hilarious enough, but the illustrations by Bob Shea really power the humor in this title. Kids will love the monster’s wild-eyed looks and expressions. And after they stop laughing, they may also learn a little bit about feelings and respecting others.