Funny Girl Week: Some of the Funniest Children’s Books of 2017 by Women
Well, we’ve had a good week of it. And figuring out how to end my ode to all things funny and womanly wasn’t easy. I thought about doing a post on funny writers for children from other countries. I considered looking at funny female character in children’s books. I definitely wanted to mention in some way the group Gold Comedy for Girls in NYC that teaches girls and women how to do stand-up comedy. But in the end I decided that this would be the best way to end things once and for all. Lots of children’s books are funny this year. Lots of them are written by women. Here then is just a brief smattering of the ones I’ve enjoyed so far. Add your own favorites in the comments section here.
Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi
If you follow me on Twitter or have ever received an email from me then you may have noticed that in the last month or so I adopted this little image as my avatar:
That owl is everything I aspire to be in life. Cranky. Impassive. Not paying a jot of attention to anyone around her. In short, the world’s most perfect librarian. You can find her, hidden away, in what I would argue to be the greatest library-related fiasco ever to grace the pages of a picture book (as if she studied at the knee of Richard Scarry) in the upcoming Accident. This is, I do believe, author Andrea Tsurumi’s debut. It is also quite possibly the funniest book of the year.
Cheer Up, Ben Franklin by Misti Kenison
I got this in the mail and my expectations were pretty darn low. The art? Simple. The text? Simple. But the story? Outright weird, honestly. This is a book with its tongue wedged so firmly in its cheek that nothing short of pliers could remove it. The premise is simple. Ben Franklin is gloomy because there’s no one to play with. What are his friends up to? Well . . .
And my favorite:
All turns out well in the end. It just takes some goofiness to get there.
Claymates by Dev Petty, ill. Lauren Eldridge
I think I talked this one up earlier in the year. It’s penned by a woman and illustrated by a woman and clearly took a LOT of work on both ends. It follows in the fine tradition of characters that live outside of their creators’ hand. And it’s goofy goofy goofy to read. Very funny stuff.
Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike by Cynthia Rylant, ill. Mike Austin
The whole point of this book, insofar as I’m concerned, concentrates squarely on the redemption of the snail. Or rather, the welcoming of the snail into the fold… so to speak. You can milk a great deal of humor out of characters that are overly impressed by everything around them. Rylant’s an old hand at the humor game, too. Don’t worry, folks. She’s got this.
A Horse Named Steve by Kelly Collier
I am convinced that Ms. Collier is a Ren & Stimpy fan. It’s something about the way that Steve bites his lower lip. And, of course, the book allows child readers the chance to be smarter than the hero. Add in a smidgen of ridiculousness and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Laundry Day by Jessixa Bagley
Everyone has a different sense of humor, right? So the books that are appearing on this list today merely comprise of titles that appeal to one form or another of my own personal funnybone. In the case of the Bagley title, what’s funny about this book can be synthesized into a single word: chaos. I find chaos very funny. I find that when something goes a little crazy and a book builds and builds upon that craziness, that’s my kind of book. Case in point, this one.
Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren
A Scot! Scottish humor! I was just looking at her website to determine if she’d ever done anything besides this truly charming little title (McLaren may yet nab the Best Illustrated Bunnies Award of 2017) only to find that she’s being simultaneously released here in the States. Book #2 is Pigeon P.I. which I had dutifully shelved away and now must find pronto. This lady is funny.
This Book Will Not Be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap, ill. Olivier Tallec
I’d never run across the name “Cirocco” before. Turns out, she’s a former Fallon writer who’s done various New Yorker pieces and is now on the writing staff of Man Seeking Woman. I don’t know how she transitioned into picture books, nor yet how she was lucky enough to get Tallec as an artist. A book is only as strong as its writing, however, and hers is a hoot. A smart debut.
Snail & Worm Again by Tina Kugler
Funniest. Dang. Book. In. The. Whole. Freakin’. World. Seriously, let’s just throw in the towel and declare Kugler funnier than all the rest of us. These books do NOT get enough credit.
There’s a Pest in the Garden by Jan Thomas
Aww. See, I loved Jan Thomas before it was cool. She’s always perfected the art of the simple, hilarious text. Maybe it comes from her former life making greeting cards. Whatever the case, I love this new easy book series she has coming out. Check out the also funny What Is Chasing Duck? for a delicious twofer.
Early Chapter Books
Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder, ill. Emily Hughes
I wrote up a review of this lovely little book a month or two ago. The story, in the meantime, has really stayed with me. I like the visual humor of it (ex: the mom freaking out in the background about the couch or the stones in her yard) and the writing itself. This is the first children’s book where I’ve seen the phrase, “Is that a thing?” used correctly.
Fables You Shouldn’t Pay Any Attention To by Florence Parry Heide & Sylvia Worth Van Clief, ill. Sergio Ruzzier
Oh, MAN! This book feels like a throwback, to a certain extent. I’m actually kind of surprised it could even be published today (which may say more about the state of the current industry than anything else). I love how it consistently reinforces the wrong lessons. Older kids will get a HUGE kick out of this. My vote for the most subversive book for kids of the year.
The Jolly Regina (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisers #1) by Kara LaReau, ill. Jen Hill
Oh, I loved this! I’m sad that it lost its original title (which used the word “Booty” in a piratical way, kinda, sorta) but I love the story. We’ve seen stories about boring characters forced to go on adventures before, and they vary considerably in quality. This little outing, however, never flags. And best of all, it has a character named Captain Ann Tenielle. Ask your parents, kids.
King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats by Dori Hillestad Butler, ill. Nancy Meyers
King and Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse by Dori Hillestad Butler, ill. Nancy Meyers
King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code by Dori Hillestad Butler, ill. Nancy Meyers
I had a hard time choosing just one of these books, so I chose all three (so far) instead. Easy books are hard. Mysteries are hard. Funny books are hard. Now imagine throwing in a dog p.o.v. on top of all that. Either you end up with something brilliant or an unholy mess. I am pleased to announce, this book falls in the former camp.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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