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Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Seven Great Picture Books For April Fool's Day
April Fool's Day is a fun theme, yet it is surprisingly hard to find good picture books to fit. Some people just go with a silly books, but I really wanted books that had some element of trickery in them, either characters playing tricks on each other, or the story tricking the audience. I also had not completely given up hope of an actual April Fool's Day book, even though I had been told there really weren't any good ones suitable for storytime. But, here's the list I came up with:
The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak (of the television show "The Office" fame).
This book has reportedly been a huge hit, especially with school-aged audiences. It fits the April Fool's theme because first you trick the kids by telling them you are reading a boring book with no pictures. But then they realize how hilarious it is as the book "tricks" the grown-up reading it into saying silly things that grown-ups, especially teachers, do not usually say, like "Boo-boo butt". Don't be surprised if the kids beg you to read it again.
That Is NOT A Good Idea! by Mo Willems.
One day a very hungry fox meets a plump goose, and one of them tricks the other one into becoming their dinner. But, the victim is not who the audience is expecting! This starts out with the feel of a folk tale, but with a surprise ending. This story has twice the trickery, with one character tricking the other, and the story tricking the audience with an unexpected twist.
Guess Again! by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex.
This book will trick audiences into guessing wrong again and again! For each round of guessing, there is an illustration and a rhyming quatrain that provides the riddle. Both the illustration and the rhyme provide misleading clues that will prompt the kids into guessing the obvious, yet completely wrong answer. By the very last one, they think they finally have it all figured out, just to be tricked yet again.
Who Wants a Hug? by Jeff Mack.
This is a hilarious book I recently used around Valentine's Day that the kids loved. In this story, Bear loves to give out free hugs, but grouchy Skunk finds him annoying and decides to put a stop to his hugs with his box of stinky tricks. Skunk thinks if he makes Bear get all stinky, then no one will want to hug him. But, all of Skunk's terrible stinky tricks backfire hilariously, leaving Skunk more stinky than ever. A very funny story with plenty of tricks.
Who Needs A Bath? by Jeff Mack.
In this sequel to the above Who Wants a Hug, Bear is planning a party for Skunk, but the other animals won't come unless Bear can do something about Skunk's odor, so Bear decides to trick Skunk into taking a bath.
Bear tries several different approaches, but they all end up backfiring, leaving Bear all wet!
April Foolishness by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott.
An actual April Fool's Day book! The grandkids keep running in the farmhouse with tales of various farm animals getting loose and causing mayhem. Yet Grandpa inexplicably ignores them and continues calmly cooking and eating breakfast. When Grandma asks why he isn't rushing out to round-up the animals, Grandpa says he knows the grandkids are just trying to play an April Fool's trick on him. But Grandma sends him into a panic when she replies that April Fool's is not today, but tomorrow! As he rushes out the door to find everything as it should be, Grandma smiles and calls, "April Fool!" Not too long, but the humor might be just a little hard for younger kids to follow.
And now, the Holy Grail of books for an April Fool's Day storytime:
Barnyard Fun by Maureen Wright and illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagayos.
This story is all about April Fool's Day tricks, it's funny with easy to understand humor, has clear illustrations, and is not too long. It is short enough for younger kids, but funny enough for the older kids as well, so would work with a fairly broad age range.
In this story Sheep decides to play April Fool's Day tricks on all the other farm animals, setting Rooster's alarm clock an hour early, filling Dog's dogfood can with springy snakes, icing a box to look like a cake, and more. But he gets a taste of his own medicine in the end with hilarious results.