I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather lately. He was an adventurous guy, and in his later years that adventurousness extended to his wardrobe, particularly his funny hat collection. Each holiday had its own festive accessory, perhaps one that played music or moved around. A turkey hat for Thanksgiving, for example, and a Santa hat with lights and a long tail that danced when you turned it on at Christmas. One of his favorite words to use with his grandkids was “goofy.” I’m usually a pretty serious person, so I am grateful to my grandpa’s influence as well as the moments in my job as a children’s librarian when I am reminded of the importance of silliness and humor and just plain fun. Nothing can get my library kids laughing as much as a silly picture book or a good joke. Lately they’ve been enjoying the novel-sized poetry collection I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith. This Silverstein-esque collection is full of silliness, from the front cover through all the content and extending to the index and author bios, where Harris and Smith trade jokes with each other. Also like Silverstein, the poems vary in length and tone; some are just for fun, while others address themes like love or friendship.
The title is apt, too; there are riddles and non-rhyming jokes aplenty for kids who don’t like poetry (or don’t think they will like it). I especially love how even the individual poem titles work to increase the silliness factor here; I think an excellent choice for a dinner table recitation would be “If You Ever Have to Memorize a Poem of Twenty Lines or Longer and Deliver It To Your Class, Then This Is a Pretty Good Choice,” or perhaps “The Old Woman Who Lived in Achoo” (although that one’s more of a double-act, so you’d have to find a partner). There are visual jokes, too, which I thought was a fun way to emphasize the illustrations along with the words. Just look for “Alphabet Book (By the Laziest Artist in the World)” to see what I mean! This book has been a refreshing source of the giggles for me as I kick off a busy summer, and I hope you enjoy it, too.
Some other funny titles I love to share with people are Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger, Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, and the Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids series by Rob Elliott. What books make you or your family laugh out loud?
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