Monday, June 18th, 2007
Three Picture Books that are Lots of Funny
When your child recognizes humor in a book and laughs for the first time, it’s magical. As my 3-year-old daughter says, good books have “lots of funny.” Here are three classics in our personal library that bring us lots of funny. Oddly enough, a single person was the author and illustrator in each case.
WARNING: SPOILERS. I discuss plot lines. I’m about to utterly crush the 5 minutes of pleasure you’ll get the first time reading these books.
As a zookeeper is saying good night to his animals, a gorilla secretly grabs the zookeeper’s keyring from his back pocket. The gorilla then follows the zookeeper, unlocking the cages and a procession of animals follows the man home without his knowledge. In bed, the man’s wife says “Good night, dear” and in the darkness all of the animals say good night in unison. The surprised wife then leads the animals back to the zoo.
The secret of a good joke is its delivery. When the uninvited animals say “good night” in the darkness, the wife’s eyes open wide with recognition. At this moment I do an imitation of Scooby Doo’s surprise-from-disbelief sound, “Uuuugh?” (Listen to the Scooby Doo theme song to hear the sound 10 seconds in.) I make the sound again on the next page when then wife turns on a bed lamp and sees a smiling gorilla in bed next to her. I’d never seen my daughter roll on the floor with laughter before.
Also see: Gorilla preschool lesson plan
On the first page, a bus driver speaks directly to your child, asking your child to not let the pigeon drive the bus while he leaves for a moment.
The book’s success depends entirely on your ability to play the part of a pigeon who really, really, really wants to drive a bus. You’ve achieved success if you get your child to yell “No!” each time the pigeon makes a plea.
“C’mon! Just once around the block!”
“I’ll be your best friend!”
“I bet your mom would let me.”
This premise has been parlayed into a series of books. They’re not a big vocabulary builder, but are a fun diversion.
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
- The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!
- The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
- The Pigeon Loves Things that Go!
Morris sees a cow and says, “You are a funny-looking moose.” This spurs the cow to insist she is a cow, even though she has horns, four hooves and a tail. The cow eventually seeks corroboration from a deer, but the deer says, “She [the cow] has four legs and a tail and things on her head. She is a deer, like me.”
The three mixed up animals then meet a horse, but before they say anything, the horse greets them, “Hello you horses! What are those funny things on your heads?”
Each animal smiles when it talks and appears to think everyone else is
being amusingly absurd. So I add a bit of laughter after each animal speaks.
Finally, the animals see their own reflections in a stream and Morris realizes he has made a big “MOOSEstake.”
It was the “Moosestake” punchline that made my daughter just lose it. Moosestake is now a household word and whenever I find a situation to use it, there is guaranteed laughter.
The book is rated for ages 4 to 8. Holy cow! Maybe that’s the reading level, but a 2- to 3-year-old can understand some if not all of the humor. And if not, it’s still a great introduction to distinguishing the differences between animals.
What books does your toddler find laugh-out-loud funny?