I admit I’m a sucker for a silly book. Somehow, when I get in front of a classroom full of preschoolers, I turn into a giant ham (and not the honey baked kind). Silly books are the bread-and-butter of my storytimes. And here are some recent sillies that got me all shook up:
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. So the premise of this book isn’t necessarily silly. It’s about two friends, Ballet Cat and Sparkle Pony (okay, yeah, it’s pretty silly), who like to play together. When it’s Pony’s turn to suggest a game, Ballet Cat nixes every possibility as they won’t be able to do it while they dance ballet. Sparkle is scared to admit to Ballet Cat that he really DOESN’T always want to dance ballet, but thinks his friend won’t be his friend any more if he tells the truth. When he finally does admit it, Ballet Cat assures him that the one thing she likes more than ballet (and more than ice cream, even) is her friend Sparkle Pony. PHEW.
The thing that made this most fun for me is that I could HEAR the voices of the characters in my head when I first read the book. And I immediately had to take it over to a colleague and make her read it (she was wondering why I was laughing so loud). I think Bob Shea’s quite masterful in how he designs his characters – you can glean so much from them without even reading the words of the text, even their voices.
I won’t say this series will be the “next Elephant and Piggie” because it stands on its own and doesn’t need to be anything other than what it is. But fans of Gerald and Piggie will probably also love Ballet Cat and her friends.
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins. It’s funny from the title page – I mean, c’mon, ROWBOAT Watkins? If I ever finish writing my picture book I’m changing my name to Caboose. Maybe.
Rude cakes are, as the title says, RUDE. They have ZERO manners. They’re bullies who never say please or thank you. Rudeness aside, when cakes meet monsters, you’d think they’d be doomed. But no – monsters don’t love cake, they love tiny hats. And rude cakes make excellent tiny hats. You follow me so far? Yes, it sounds absurd, but it’s HIGH-LARIOUS. And kids are gonna love it.
McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger; Illustrated by Jon Hendrix. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Angleberger at ALA – super nice dude (and a menace at Words With Friends) – and bought a copy of this one. And boy howdy am I glad I did!
McToad really enjoys Thursdays, because on Thursdays, he mows tiny island (every other day he mows plain old big island. BO-RING). But in order to get his mower to tiny island, he must use a series of vehicles that get more and more outlandish. Just to spend about 5 minutes (with lemonade break) mowing a seriously tiny island. But he loves it, and it shows.
The illustrations are detailed and quirky. McToad is a cheerful lawn-mowing mogul (every one of the modes of transport is owned by him) and will be a surefire hit in storytime.
A few not-so-silly, but equally worthy (and gorgeous) books I’ve read lately:
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. Absolutely beautiful story of generosity.
The Moon is Going to Addy’s House by Ida Pearle. As Addy rides home from a play date, the moon goes along. The illustrations, in cut paper, much of it marbled, are glorious. They convey movement and take on a variety of perspectives – much like the way we see the moon from different places.
Float by Daniel Miyares. A Caldecott contender for sure. This wordless book tells the story of a boy and his paper boat as it floats away during a rainstorm. Even the endpapers enhance the story – in the front are instructions for folding a paper boat; in the back – a paper airplane. A limited color palette in no way detracts, and Miyares deftly conveys motion and movement. The shape of the book and even the illustrations remind me of Ezra Jack Keats – and that’s a very good thing.
What are your new favorites? Any especially silly stories I should know about?