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31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Seven – 2016 Great Funny Picture Books

31daysEvery single list that appears on this blog is subjective.  I mean, here I am declaring stuff to be great based entirely on a single solitary opinion: my own.  That’s okay when you’re talking alphabet books or readalouds, but humor is a far trickier matter.  There are a LOT of humorous picture books that come out in a single year and this list is just a miniscule smattering of the whole. That said, these are the books that really retained a strong grip on my brain after reading them.  There were other funny books out in 2016.  I’m just particularly partial to the following.  I’m pleased with the number of funny women representing here too.  After all, if there’s one thing I know something about, it’s funny girls.


 

2016 Funny Picture Books

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

BestFrints

Kind of like Du Iz Tak? but with a slight increase in English, this alien friendship story earns its humor stripes when it explains those little socially awkward moments like when you accidentally/on purpose bite off your best frint’s tail.

Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell

DylanVillain

First off, I love that in this world, villainy is genetic but is capable of skipping generations.  Second, I love that our anti-hero’s antagonist is a girl with a killer purple eyepatch.  Having super villains as heroes isn’t a new idea in the movies, but in picture books it doesn’t happen all that often.  I, for one, am hoping for more Dylan in the future.

The Happiest Book Ever! by Bob Shea

happiestbook

Every book should have a frog in it.  There’s a lot of happy happy joy joy to this book mixed with a tincture of Monty Python.  Could you ask for anything more?

A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals-9781481448895_hr

The subtitle, which is distinctly Edward Gorey-esque, gives you an indication of what kind of funny book this is.  You know what it reminds me of?  The movie Alien.  And, naturally, the turtle is Ripley.  Oh, like you hadn’t considered it before.

I Don’t Want To Be Big by Dev Petty, ill. Mike Boldt

idontwantbig

I didn’t bother to do this with any of the other books on this list, but for this one, I wanted to show you my favorite gag.  The idea is that the frog is arguing that growing up is a bum rap.  His dad tries to come up with reasons why it should still be done.  So we get this:

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screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-14-01-pm

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-14-17-pm

The defense rests, your honor.

Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas

isthatwisepig

I mean, there’s a boot on that pig’s head.  A boot!  Just sayin’.

King Baby by Kate Beaton

kingbaby

We’re getting there.  Beaton’s starting out slow with her picture books.  This one’s funnier than her last, and at the rate she’s going she should be able to make a perfectly Beaton-esque one soon.  Though, to be frank, this next book on my list felt like Kate Beaton but not by Kate Beaton:

Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

LeaveMeAlone

Did you notice that it appeared on the NPR Book Concierge for 2016?  Did you notice who blurbed it?  Ah, thank you.  Ah, thank you.

Monsters Go Night-Night by Aaron Zenz

MonstersGoNight

Proving yet again that I have the sense of humor of a 5-year-old.  But let’s be frank.  That potty joke?  The best misdirection I’ve seen on a page in a long time.

Next to You: A Book of Adorableness by Lori Haskins Houran, ill. Sydney Hanson

NextToYou

I’m going to stand by this one as a humor book.  It throws you off with its big-eyed animals and then you get the snarky text.  Seriously funny.

Oh No, Astro! by Matt Roeser, ill. Brad Woodard

ohnoastro

Proof positive that you can be a funny book and a visually stunning one all at the same time.

Penguin Problems by Jory John, ill. Lane Smith

penguinproblems

Misanthropic penguins make for comedy gold.  Every good author worth his or her salt knows that.

Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen

poorlittleguy

Of all the books on my list today, I worry that this one is the most underrated.  Did you ever get a chance to read it?  I feel like it got buried under a lot of other publications, but for sheer visual storytelling and gags it’s an out-and-out winner.  I. Just. Love. It.  Love it, love it, love it.

President Squid by Aaron Reynolds, ill. Sara Varon

presient-squid

Okay.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this video at the 18:30 mark.  That’s when Aaron reads from his book and it’s the funniest reading ever you did see.

Pug Man’s 3 Wishes by Sebastian Meschenmoser

pugmans3wishes

He’s the funniest German picture book author/illustrator of all time.  Granted, the competition may not be particularly intense . . .

Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, ill. Bob Shea

quitcallingmonster

Both Jory and Bob are on this list twice.  And I’d take off one of their books apiece, honest I would, if it weren’t for the fact that the monster in this book is named Floyd Patterson.  I mean, I’m only human, after all.

Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

superhappymagic

2016 was a good year for picture books making fun of fantasy tropes.  I honestly think this book would appeal to any kid, though, regardless of their interest in swords and sorcery.  Plus there’s a Gollum reference on one of the pages, so kudos there.

This is My Book by Mark Pett (and no one else)

thisismybook

I almost swallowed my gum when I saw that the author of this book was Mark Pett.  Pett?  A subdued author/illustrator by and large, this book is a huge departure for him.  A huge, hilarious departure.  We could all use a mischievous panda in our lives.

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan, ill. Sophie Blackall

voyageclouds

Somehow the fact that it’s all based on a true story (the iron vest, the peeing off the boat, the landing in their underwear, etc.) makes it all the funnier.  Plus the fact that Ms. Sophie Blackall is in Funny Girl in 2017 is just the icing on the cake.

Who What Where? by Olivier Tallec

whowhatwhere

It’s a sequel but I don’t rightly care.  It’s a hilarious sequel and may even improve upon the original.


Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

 

 

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Yahoopy! I adore Best Frints in the Whole Universe and so do my 6-year-old and 3-year-old boys.

    Fun thing to do: read a kid the book and then ask them whether Yelfred and Omek are boys or girls. I love that the book never lets on one way or another.

  2. Thank you so much for these lists! It’s making every morning extra special!

  3. James Preller says:

    The tree frog gag is hilarious. Thank you for that. And for everything else.

  4. Barbara Carney-Coston says:

    Love the lists! Thank you.

  5. Thanks for all the great recs! I loved A Hungry Lion & Leave Me Alone. Very curious about Next to You, since it doesn’t have a typical funny-looking cover.

  6. If my 2-year-old was picking the best book of the year it would be Poor Little Guy. It’s his favorite book and he keeps requesting it from the library. He loves it and he thinks it’s so funny. One of my favorites of the year too.

    I’m also so glad to see someone else you loves Super Happy Magic Forest. So much for fantasy fans and geeky parents and their kids. I love all the many various side comments and speech bubbles. It has so much going on it’s a delight to read!

  7. How did you know I needed a laugh? Thanks for this list and inspiring me to write a funny book of my own!