One Funny Thing About Picture Books

Last night, I had the pleasure of talking about humorous picture books at the Picture Book Salon here in Minneapolis along with my pal and fellow author Peter Pearson.

Safe to say, we had a good time putting our talk together.

There are, of course, so MANY ways and reasons a book can be funny.

But here’s one funny thing we talked about:

Kid Knowledge: When the child audience knows more than the character in a book—and how that turns out to be pretty darn funny.

This, for example, from Sandra Boynton's BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT, kills with the one- to three-year-old set:

Because kids GET IT. They know just enough about the world to know that a HAT does not go on you FEET! Forget about it! This turkey is ridiculous! Haaaa!

In Kevin Henkes's KITTEN'S FIRST FULL MOON, the kitten thinks the moon is a big bowl of milk. And she wants it.

The child knows that is NOT a bowl of milk in the sky—and trying to lick it, leap for it or run closer to it is not going to work. Each attempt results in a funny failure.

The tone with Kitten is more gentle. While the turkey is more of a gut-buster, the kitten elicits more of an “oh, silly kitten” reaction.

But these books both use humor to draw kids in to the story, and affirm that they KNOW STUFF.

These are just two examples in a sea of glorious humorous picture books.

Funny picture books are some of my favorites. And if they also have a big beating heart? Forget about it! I love ‘em!