‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins) This is a gorgeous and fun book about a box of crayons where each colour has written a letter of complaint to its owner, Duncan. The red crayon feels overworked; ’I even have to work on holidays. I have to colour all the Santas ……and hearts on Valentine’s Day’. The beige crayon is; ‘beige and I’m proud of it’. The grey crayon is tired of colouring all those huge animals and would like to colour something like a pebble; ‘Give me a break’ he pleads. The white crayon feels ‘empty’, the black crayon wishes he was used for something other than outlines, the yellow and orange crayons disagree about who should be the colour of the sun, the blue crayon is feeling over-used and stubby and the pink crayon feels discriminated against by his male owner. Each protest letter is devoted to a double-page spread as Daywalt creates the crayons’ personalities with clever, funny and insightful opinions. The result is a giggle or smile on each page. The way Duncan decides to address and resolve these issues is amusing and pithy. Jeffers’ use of beautiful naïve drawings on white expanses of page adds to the joy, clarity and flow of the book. His elegant lines and colours combined with collage effect enhance the unexpected storyline.
‘My Christmas Crackers’ by Bronwen Davies (Scholastic) This is not only a fun book, but beautifully illustrated. Author and illustrator, Davies writes of 24 Christmas festive jokes. She asks the joke on the right hand page and you turn the page to find the answer on the left hand page. What Christmas carol do you always hear in the desert? , what do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? and what do monkeys sing at Christmas time? Play on words and pronunciation see us visit Santas, elves, reindeers, angels, mince pies, snowmen and gingerbread. Saturated colours and strong designs in full bleed illustrate the quirky jokes which are endearing (or should that be endeering?), sweet and put you in the Christmas mood. This book is guaranteed to bring laughter and smiles and banish any feelings of ‘Bah, humbug!’.
‘My Dad STILL Thinks He’s Funny’ by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Black Dog Books; Walker Books) This is a really fun book about a young boy whose dad has a long string of ‘dad’ jokes; ‘I ask for a hand and Dad starts clapping’, ‘I say I feel like a milkshake and Dad says, “You don’t look like one”’. I think everyone can relate to these jokes which Germein warmly relates. I remember when I was a little girl I’d say, ‘Dad, I’m hungry’ and he’d say straight back, ‘Pleased to meet you, hungry’. This book celebrates the wry sense of humour that dads enhance our lives with and their droll sense of humour. The young boy ends the book with a quick quip (right-back-at-you-style) and proves he’s a bit of a chip off the old block. Jellett’s lively and appealing digital illustrations seems to enhance the perspective of the young boy and the digital age he relates to. They draw you through the funny comments and quips so that you are keen to turn the page and find out what else this dad can possibly dream up to say. A fun, quirky and widely appealing book, it applauds dads and celebrates crazy, quirky family fun.
‘Exclamation Mark’ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Scholastic) I just love this quirky, funny book. It’s about an exclamation mark who is not quite sure who he is and how he fits in. Krouse Rosenthal’s clever text leads us through the story – how the exclamation mark ‘stood out from the very beginning’ until a conversation when he met a question mark opened up lots of possibilities; ‘It was like he broke free from a life sentence’ and he went off ‘to make his mark’. Play on words and pithy text lead us through the book. This is a clever book which is a unique story about finding your way. Lichtenfeld’s stunning illustrations are strong and bold – just like the exclamation mark turns out to be. With a background of lettering paper, the fonts, text and graphics are lively, fun and instantly appealing. This is a beautifully presented book with a fun play on punctuation and a great story.
Visit Tom Lichtenheld’s website here.
Read my interview with Tom Lichtenheld here.
‘Delilah Darling is in the Library’ by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Rosie Reeve (Puffin; Penguin) This fun book is about a slightly deluded young girl who lives in a world of her own which creates crazy situations. The book opens with the main character standing on her bed with a crown on her head announcing that she is Queen Delilah and that she comes from ‘a land far, far away. Only my mother likes to keep it a secret’. She hears the French term ‘au pair’ and understands it as Old Pear and the Old Pear in turn understands that the librarian is called the Library Anne. We learn about what Queen Delilah thinks a library should be about – sticky buns served on trays, trapezes to get the books from high shelves and beautiful princesses reading books to you until you fall asleep. Reeve’s illustrations are fun and expressive in bold and vibrant colours. Some of the characters’ facial expressions are priceless. Thank you to Louisa at my local bookshop for recommending this book to me.
Read my interview with Jeanne Willis here.
Visit Jeanne Willis’ website here.
‘That Pesky Rat’ by Lauren Child (Orchard Books; Hachette) I just love this book! Child combines her sense of wit and her fabulous graphic images to lead us through the story of the hilarious lives of various pets and their owners. There is the chinchilla who lives a glamorous life with his owner, but claims ‘it’s not all cushions and chocolates. Madame Fifi has me shampooed at the pet parlour once a week. I hate baths. I think I’m allergic to soap’. The Siamese cat gets bored all alone each day in the bachelor’s flat and the Scottie dog is embarrassed by the clothes his owner dresses him in. The rat laments that he is never bought and that he would like to have a name ‘instead of just that pesky rat’. After reading about the other animals we hear the wonderfully funny situation that awaits that pesky rat! The different scales of the images adds to the zany, wacky, jolty experience of reading this story. Child’s books are so original, unpredictable, lots of fun and pure joy to read.
‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake’ by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (Laura Geringer; Harper Collins) Thank you to my friend, Kylie, who introduced me to this book. This is a rollicking story which gathers momentum as a young girl supposes what may happen if you give a pig a pancake and then the chain of events that may follow. A sweet-looking, but oh-so-demanding little pig flippantly follows his own whims and makes ever-increasing demands on the poor young girl. We see the girl loaning her tap shoes, playing her best piano piece, taking photos, addressing and posting the letters and helping build and decorate a tree-house in a non-stop whirl of activity as the pig sails on by with never-ending energy and ideas. Bond’s illustrations are beguiling and charming which creates a clever foil for the busyness of the story and the deceptively innocent-looking pig.
‘Room on the Broom’ by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Koala Books; Macmillan) Donaldson’s jaunty rhyming text zooms us along on the witch’s broom and travels; ‘The witch had a cat and a very tall hat, And long ginger hair which she wore in a plait’. It is great fun to read the active text throughout the book. The happy witch keeps dropping things from her broom and when she picks them up various friendly creatures ask for a ride. When a dragon steps in the way and threatens to eat ‘witch and chips’ for tea, the witch’s friends pull together and create an unexpected scenario. The witch’s triumph is her final spell which creates smiles. The strong colours and lines of Scheffler’s illustrations create a contrast with the text on white background and enhance the story with sublime expressions and actions. A sense of fun permeates the whole book with its rollicking rhythms, story line and beautiful illustrations.
‘The Queen’s Knickers’ by Nicholas Allan (Red Fox; Random House) OK, now this book is pure magic. My mum introduced me to this book and I love the subtle, understated and wry sense of humour. We learn what happens when the Queen (fictional, of course) loses her travelling trunk which gets mixed up with someone else’s picnic hamper. We meet Dilys who is in charge of looking after the Queen’s knickers and are then treated to a double page spread of the different type of knickers the Queen has for different occasions, her VIP pair, her travelling pair, knicker gifts she has received and Queen Victoria’s knickers. There are smiles and laughs throughout the book, but my favourite part is the clever and very funny ending to the book.
‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (Harper Collins) This is a great book to read out loud. You just feel for this young boy who is having a really bad day. Absolutely everything seems to be going wrong and he expresses his exasperation with long, constant running commentary; ‘At breakfast Anthony found a Corvette String Ray car kit in his breakfast cereal box and Nick found a Junior Undercover Agent code ring in his breakfast cereal box but in my breakfast cereal box all I found was breakfast cereal’. As we follow him through the day he accumulates his woes; ‘So we went to the shoe store to buy some sneakers. Anthony chose white ones with blue stripes. Nick chose red ones with white stripes. I chose blue ones with red stripes but the shoe man said, “We’re sold out.” They made me buy plain old ones, but they can’t make me wear them.’ I just love his expressions. Cruz’s black and white illustrations are expressive and hysterical. The ending to the book is an understated masterpiece. Thank you to my friend, Megan, for introducing me to this wonderfully funny book.