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Books to Make You Smile

April is National Humor Month so a trip to the library and I found a few books to share. Humor in kids’ books can be the in-your-face laugh-out-loud kind or more subtle. It can be a dance between the pictures and the words as they contradict each other or used to soften the blow of more serious moments in the book. Here’s a few I liked.

Snail Crossing

Written & Illustrated by Corey R. Tabor
Balzer & Bray, HarperCollins 2020

Snail spies a luscious cabbage patch, but he needs to cross the road to get to it. His attempt is not without adventure. He saves some ants from the rain by inviting them into his shell home. We only see dark and eyes until “click” and the home is the wondrous snail home I’d love to crawl into. In his attempt to evade a crow he gets turned around and ends up back where he started. In the end kindness pays off as he sees a head of cabbage coming toward him across the road, carried by-the ants, of course! The illustrations were warm and inviting and showed the world from Snail’s perspective. One of the things I love about picture books is that the vocabulary can be rich as an adult is present to help explain unknown words. Snail was full of wonderful words like ponder, grumbling, antsy, evasive maneuvers and had a lesson in persistence and kindness.

Book’s Big Adventure

Written by Adam Lehrhaupt, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021

Book is brand new. He finds himself on the best shelf in the library where he is sought after and taken on many adventures. In time his newness wears off, his cover fades and he is moved to less and less prominent shelves and has fewer adventures. He is lonely and ignored for new fancier books. Eventually he falls under a shelf and loses hope, but he is found and put in a box of books that are donated. Book is loved again and goes on new adventures. The text is simple with much shown in the inviting illustrations that show diversity of people and communities. The feelings Book is experiencing are perfectly depicted by just two eyes and a mouth. It is a heartwarming story that helps the reader experience sadness, empathy, hope and joy. Bonus-the author included information on where to donate books so they aren’t forgotten. After all, a book’s purpose is not to live in a box, but to share adventures with readers!

We Found a Hat

Written & Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press 2016

This is a story in three parts told with simple text and illustrations. Klassen is a master at dry humor while showing honest emotions. Part 1: two turtles find a hat and decide it looks good on both of them. Since it is not right for only one to have it they decide to leave it. It is made clear one turtle still covets the hat. Part 2: they watch the sunset and one turtle thinks about the sunset and the other is still thinking about the hat but doesn’t share that. Part 3: they are going to sleep. The turtle that wants the hat is trying to confirm that the other turtle is sleeping so he can go get the hat, but when he finds out the other turtle is dreaming about them both have a hat he goes to sleep too and dreams they both have a hat. A lot is packed in a simple story that leads to discussions of sharing, making good decisions and thinking of others.

How to Catch a Clover Thief

Written & Illustrated by Elise Parsley
Little Brown & Company, Hachette Book Group, 2021

A boar named Roy finds and claims a clover patch. His neighbor Jarvis, a gopher, quietly steals the clover while distraction Roy with various books-a clover recipes cookbook, a book about camping and one on aerospace engineering. Roy finally realizes Jarvis has tricked him and he goes to the library where he reads and looks up words. Later we see Jarvis tunneling under to get to Roy’s clover but Roy has built a machine (Rube Goldberg style) that shoots Jarvis to the sky on a rocket. And Roy is seen holding a book, How to Catch a Clover Thief. The full-page illustrations and expressive faces are a great example of how the illustrations tell the story with the words. The story shows ingenuity, that you can find answers and solutions in books, and is very funny.

Author: Holly Niner

Holly Niner is the author of No More Noisy Nights illustrated by Guy Wolek, and The Day I Ran Away illustrated by Isabella Ongaro. She has had numerous stories published in children’s magazines, and her previous picture books were award winners. Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD, received the 2005 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award, and I Can’t Stop: A Story about Tourette Syndrome, was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award and a 2005 Bank Street College of Education Best Book. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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