Off-the-Wall Humor Picture Books for Preschoolers

BookendsLynn: Anyone who thinks preschoolers have gentle, sweet senses of humor hasn’t spent much time around them. Face it, folks, preschoolers—especially male preschoolers of my acquaintance—have off-the-wall bizarre senses of humor! If it makes an adult cringe, it probably is hysterically funny to a four year old. We have two picture books today that definitely fit that definition.

If the weirdness makes you wince, be
assured the kids will think it is brilliant.

First up is the perennial favorite author Bob Shea with Buddy and the Bunnies in Don’t Play with Your Food! (2015). Buddy the monster stomps and raaarrhhs through the countryside until he comes across some sweet little bunnies playing checkers. “I’m going to eat all you bunnies!” he shouts. “No, please, no! We were about to make cupcakes!” Buddysay the adorable bunnies. That stops Buddy in his monster tracks.

What kind of monster do you think I am.
Cupcakes first.
Bunnies for dessert.”

They all play hide and seek while the cupcakes bake and then of course Buddy is far too full of cupcakes to eat the bunnies. Each day Buddy comes back to eat the bunnies but they divert him into playing and having fun until it is too late and he promises to eat them tomorrow.

Shea’s choice of bright background pages and round cartoon-style illustrations are every bit as much fun as the story in which the monster eventually decides he isn’t supposed to play with his food so the bunnies must be FRIENDS! This is a total delight to read aloud and if the weirdness makes you wince, be assured the kids will think it is brilliant.

Edgar Wants to Be AloneCindy: Jean-Francois Dumont is no stranger to kooky humor and that continues in his new picture book, Edgar Wants To Be Alone (2015). Edgar is a grumpy rat who was not happy to spy a worm following him. He saw it out of the corner of his eye, he heard it in the grass behind him. He was not happy! Edgar was a rat who liked his solitude. He tries to outrun it, to swim away from it, to have mole follow him and eat it, and several other failed plans. The funny resolution is one that will have young readers flipping back to the start to see what Edgar couldn’t all along. They’ll laugh even more the second time, and third time, and….

Dumont’s expressive and vibrant mixed-media illustrations will show well in storytime, but close examination of the details will enhance the reading experience.  Be ready for more giggles once everyone is in on the joke.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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