Friday, March 26, 2021

ReFoReMo Day 20: Author Cindy Williams Schrauben Packs a Punch with Humorous Picture Books

Writing humorous picture books takes a great deal of practice. Much like with stand-up comedy there are many details to consider -- how to structure the story arc, pacing, balancing laughs with necessary details, and, of course, when to hit with the punchline. The following titles have helped to inform my current work.  

Potato Pants by Laura Keller

The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrated by Peter Oswald

Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio,

illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Spring Stinks by Ryan T. Higgins

Bob Not Bob! by Audrey Vernick & Liz Garton Scanlon,

illustrated by Matthew Cordell






Cindy is giving away a picture book critique to one lucky winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 1, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

 

Cindy Williams Schrauben is realizing her dream of writing books for kids. Before embarking on this path, she held positions as a preschool administrator, teacher, and assistant director of a children’s museum. With degrees in english, elementary education, and child psychology, Cindy strives to empower children and books are always a crucial part of that picture. When not writing or honing her craft, Cindy might be found dissecting her grandsons’ shenanigans for story ideas, reading on the floor in the bookstore, or eating ice cream… ideally all at once.

 


174 comments:

  1. My favorite was Bob, Not Bob. This list was lots of fun. Thanks, Cindy.

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  2. Fantastic! My absolute favorite list so far. Thanks for sharing books that are sure to tickle my funny bone.

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  3. Thanks Cindy. I love the Mother Bruce books - looking forward to reading this one! Humor can be so hard, yet look effortless when it's done right.

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  4. Thanks for this fun list. I've read some but will have to read the others. We all need humor these days!

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  5. Kids love funny books. Thanks for this list!

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  6. Kids love funny books. Thanks for this list!

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  7. This list filled with levity is just what I needed today! Dragon was Terrible and Spring Stinks are such fun! I am excited to read the rest. Thank you for offering these up today!

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  8. Humor is so tricky to do. The premise of Bob, Not Bob! is hilarious and the heart in the mom Bob's is just brilliant. And I love the way it's the details that add humor in Dragon was Terrible. Such a fun and funny bunch of titles today!

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  9. Great examples! I am always trying to improve my humor writing.

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  10. My favorite picture books tend to be humorous ones and I think most kids feel the same way. Thanks for sharing these great mentor titles, Cindy.

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  11. A great collection, Cindy. Thanks

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  12. So true that humor can feel like it should be simple but needs to follow the same “rules” for crafting it well! Thank you for the mentor texts!

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  13. Humorous picture books are my "thing!" Thanks for providing these mentors!!

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  14. Thanks for this post, Cindy! My little ones and I have read all of these and enjoyed POTATO PANTS most recently. We loved it-- the zany premise, fun language, and sweet story.

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  15. I just love humorous picture books! Thanks for sharing these mentor texts, Cindy!

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  16. I'm inspired by what has inspired you! Writing humor is hard but these mentor texts are a great study. Thanks, Cindy!

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  17. Thank you, Cindy--for this great list of humorous mentor texts. Bob Not Bob is so clever.

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  18. Thanks for putting these funny books on my map, Cindy! They are super mentor texts.

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  19. Thank you so much for a fantastic post and list of PBs. Off to check them out . . .

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  20. One of my current works in progress is a humorous & I can’t wait to read your choices! Thanks, so much, for your post!

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  21. Love this list, Cindy! Thanks for adding to my titles of great humorous picture books.

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  22. I love your examples, Cindy. They're hilarious and great mentor texts.

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  23. Potato Pants is hilarious! I look forward to reading the ones I'm still waiting on.

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  24. I love to write "funny," and you shared a few I haven't reads yet.

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  25. This was a great list! Thank you for sharing.

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  26. Real kid humor is really hard to write but these books are great examples! Thanks!

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  27. Thank you for sharing this funny examples. Time to study!

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  28. Cindy, I'm so glad you included Bob, Not Bob, truly one of the funniest books I've ever read! I'm trying my hand at writing funny instead of my usual serious. I know these books will help me better understand humorous books. Thank you!

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  29. Thanks, Cindy! Terrific examples!

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  30. I need to get my hands on Bob, Not Bob! Is it possible that Bob can inject humor into me?

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  31. This was a fun list...potato pants made me laugh out loud....though it did have an under lying message or 2 that kids could learn from and BOB NOT BOB made me feel for the kid, the dog and the mom...but it did throw humor into the whole situation. Thanks for good reading!

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  32. THE BAD SEED was the only one I could get my hands on, but the others look great. I will have to find them elsewhere. Thanks for the list. Humor is hard but so needed, particularly in this day and age.

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  33. Such great examples, Cindy! Thanks so much.

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  34. These are great books to share. Thanks, Cindy!

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  35. Such fun especially when you can make adults laugh too. Thank you for the great list.

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  36. I enjoyed these books and I'm writing humor. So looking them over for thetype of humor and how it's executed. I'm hoping my arc and pacing and ending are more than satisfactory.

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  37. Thanks for these titles, Cindy. It's always a treat to see kids laughing!

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  38. Hooray for humor! My favorite category. Love all these books!

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  39. So many great examples! I love The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrated by Peter Oswald and the others in the series, The Cool Bean, The Couch Potato, The Great Escape, etc.

    I wish there were funnier diverse books for kids. Most of them take on serious subjects & some kids just need a good laugh.

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  40. I love funny books and these are some of my favorites. Thanks so much for sharing, Cindy!

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  41. Great mentor texts, Cindy. I love humorous books and that's what I tend to write. I loved "The Bad Seed" and "Potato Pants".

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  42. Some super funny ones here. Thanks for the laughs!

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  43. Thanks Cindy for a great list of humorous texts!Humorous books are so much fun to read and I bet so hard to write but this group has definitely given me inspiration to try.Potato Pants by Laurie Keller is a book I have read several times to classes as a school librarian. There is so much about this book that kids "eat Up", pun intended. The whole idea of potatoes and eggplants wearing pants is just so silly and fun. Then the fact that Potato won't go in the Fancy Pants store because Eggplant is in there and winds up returning when there is only one pair left and eventually gets his potato pants and can do the Pobot Pants Dance just gives so much room for kids to create their own potato pants, relate to how the potato felt and do their own Pobot Dance. This is an incredibly creative inspirational humorous book that I would love to have written.
    The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrated by Peter Oswald is another book that I have read aloud to kids many times with great results. The bad seed does some pretty bad things like making faces at babies to make them cry and using bad manners and poor hygiene and kids love to point out all of his shortcomings. Then we find out he has been through some rough times and decides to change for the better. This book takes a serious relatable issue of trying to change bad habits or make amends for past actions and turns it into a heartwarming entertaining tale with a memorable character. I might try to present a serious issue in a more entertaining way. Spring Stinks by Ryan T. Higgins is another great humorous book that uses a memorable character Bruce the Bear from the Mother Bruce books who does not like Spring. His friend Ruth the Rabbit does everything she can to change his mind with all of Spring's wonderful smells. The illustrations add greatly to the humor in this book, making it another hit with readers. I would love to come up with a character like Mother Bruce.Bob not Bob by Audrey Vernick and Liz Scanlon, illustrated by Matthew Gordell is a book I had not read before but absolutely admired the creativity that produced it.The whole idea of Little Louie being so stuffed up that his calls for "Mom" sound like "Bob" and have his dog Bob running in makes for such a comical story as the confusion continues that I know kids and adults alike would find hilarious. Even when he got better he still likes to have his Mom and probably Bob too come running. Such a great, funny read aloud! Dragon was Terrible by Kelly Di Puccio, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli was also a book that I had not read before but now wish I could share it with kids.Again it shows a character with very bad behavior. Kids love to see others acting badly especially doing things like burping in church, spitting on cupcakes,taking candy from unicorns etc. The fact that everyone in the kingdom is trying to take the dragon down and win the reward offered but the most unlikely character succeeds by reading a story about a brave dragon and eventually tames him is very engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in these books and am definitely going to try to inject humor into future stories I write!Humor sells!

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  44. I love humorous books and so do my kids. They are much loved!

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  45. This is a great lineup of hilarious books.I especially love Mr. Potato Pants,it appeals to all ages from 5-10. All of the books seem to have the quality that no matter how outrageous the storyline is kids can envision the plausibility of the characters actions.

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  46. Kids definitely need humor especially in these uncertain times. Great book choices.

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  47. Cindy, thanks for introducing me to these humorous picture books. It’s interesting to see how the authors used dialogue to build their stories. These types of books are entertaining for the adult reader as well as the audience.

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  48. Humorous books are my favorite kind and I love all of the books you had us read. This was my first time with BOB, NOT BOB and I laughed so much. Thank you.

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  49. I love Bob, Not Bob! Our school library has it so I conveniently read it anytime I come down with a cold-well, that hasn't happened this year with school closed and no colds! Mother Bruce is a fave as well. Thanks for the great list!

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  50. Hah! That's what we all need are some good laughs. I just laugh when I read the title Potato Pants. That is funny. Thanks for a great list of mentor texts!

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  51. Thank you, Cindy! I love to write humor, but it's sometimes hard to know if what I find humorous will work for other readers. These are wonderful examples of books that work for most, if not everyone!

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  52. Thanks for these titles, Cindy. I have recently written my first attempt at humor and it was so much fun! I’m excited to read more and hone my craft!

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  53. Thank you for reminding us. Humor and laughter are often the music of great children's books.

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  54. Humorous picture books are my goal. Thanks for the tips about what to concentrate on and the books that can help me do that. My favorite of these was Bob Not Bob! Hilarious!

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  55. Thanks for sharing these, Cindy! Some great examples here!

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  56. I'm so afraid to try humor. It's so hard to do well (and make it look effortless). Thanks for the inspiration in today's list.

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  57. I can't wait to order these from the library. I love funny picture books!

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  58. CINDY: You're right about humor writing being tricky. I think our humor comes out best unforced; but, as you said, we also have to take into consideration ALL the elements of good storytelling as well. I look forward to seeing your book in the line-up of humor books in the future! THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to bring more humor, smiles, and laughter into the world--especially for children.

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  59. I've read all these books several times, but each time I read them I notice even more humorous elements. Thanks for the list.

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  60. Thank you for sharing these humorous mentor texts!

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  61. Thanks for sharing these humorous books. We all need a laugh these days - and these provide that.

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  62. Cindy—thanks for the list of new humorous books to explore! The elusive humor—something to strive for!

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  63. Humorous books bring joy when we need it most! Thank you for these suggestions!

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  64. Bob, Not Bob is my favorite! Thanks for sharing this list.

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  65. Thank you for your post. I love humor!

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  66. I love Bob Not Bob so much and it has become a new "classic" for my students!

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  67. Humorous picture books are my favorites. I'm a huge fan of Bruce and have read every book.

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  68. these are great! Bob Not Bob so good! thank you

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  69. As someone who has a hard time writing "funny", I appreciate these mentor suggestions.

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  70. Such fun books! They're always great for a laugh and mentor texts. Thank you for sharing.

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  71. comment Rhonda Kay Gatlin "Dragon Was Terrible" is my favorite of today choices. A book can calm down any child if you pick the right book. Stories are so powerful. If for example a child was having a tantrum and they have a favorite book sometimes a book is the ticket to a content child if you read to them or not, but it worked for the dragon.

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  72. Great selection of mentor texts, Cindy. They show a great range of humor--from quirky/silly to heart-warming. Whenever I find a book that appeals to my sense of humor I'll end up checking out a stack of the author's other books from the library to study just why they appeal to me.

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  73. Hilarious! Each strikes a different funny note. While some humorous books seem aimed only at littles, the humor in this set seems more universal.

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  74. Writing humor successfully is quite difficult, but the authors on this list have mastered it well. I especially enjoyed Bob, Not Bob! Very clever! And I loved the mother. Thanks for wonderful list of humorous mentor texts.

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  75. Humor is tough. Thanks for sharing some of your mentor texts!

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  76. Thank you, Cindy, for sharing this list of picture books with a theme of humor.

    Suzy Leopold

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  77. You've got some of my favorites in your list, Cindy! Thanks for posting such great examples of humor!

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  78. Humor is so important to me. Thanks for sharing these wonderful books and reminding us all about the importance of laughter in literature.

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  79. Yay, more humor! It's also interesting to see how these can be read aloud in a way that amps up or tamps down the humor.

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  80. My favorite part of humorous books is watching kids enjoy them! Thank you for these great insights and examples.

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  81. Bob, Not Bob is hilarious! Thanks for these delightful reads. I enjoyed the laughs.

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  82. These are all great titles! Thanks for sharing. Would love to hear from others on this post for more title ideas.

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  83. Thank you, Cindy! So much fun to read and reread!

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  84. Thanks so much for including Bob, Not Bob here, and for all the nice words in the comments! I somehow completely missed Mr. Potato Pants and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

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  85. Thanks, Cindy! I love having humor mentor texts to study and some of these are new to me. Great prize, your critique expertise, and fresh eyes on manuscripts helps everyone hone our writing craft.

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  86. Cindy, thank you for sharing these terrific, humorous mentor texts. Great structures to study humor.

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  87. Everyone can agree when a story is sad. But humor is subjective and not everyone will laugh at the same thing. That's what makes writing humor so difficult. Thanks for this list, Cindy. I have to agree with many here, that Bob, Not Bob! was the best of the bunch. Potato Pants was absurdly funny as well.

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  88. I love it when a kid laughs while reading a book. I, so admire those who can write the humor. Great list for mentoring.

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  89. I'd love to know how these writers found their story lines, especially Potato Pants and The Bad Seed. Hilariously clever.

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  90. My kids and I love humorous books. I have been trying to write them, not easy. Thanks for this great list!

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  91. Laughter opens the heart and emotions of a child. It is a release and heals! Thanks you for your recommendations! Bob not Bob was great!

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  92. I love a list of humorous books, as it is such an art to learn how to capture comedy in a PB. Thank you for your list and I look forward to my continued study to write them... I'm almost there.

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  93. These were great and my kids loved them, too! I feel like it is hard to clearly define what makes a story funny or not funny, but you definitely know when the mark has been hit or not.

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  94. The humor in these books appeals to all ages. I'm still chuckling. SPRING STINKS especially caught me by surprise. Maybe my favorite was BOB, NOT BOB! The cyclical ending coming full circle implemented perfectly. I loved the dog and all the nasally misunderstandings.

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  95. Thanks for a great list! Looking at pacing for humorous PBs, and these are perfect!

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  96. Great examples. I tend to favor the humorous ones both in reading and writing them

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  97. Fun list to end the week. Potato Pants by Laurie Keller was super funny. Proof that the silliest idea can become a wonderful story with an important message. Spring Stinks by Ryan T. Higgins is a nice mentor text for writing characters with completely opposite personalities.

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  98. Stories full of great characters and lots of laughs. One thing I noticed is that humor often comes from exaggerating the worst parts of all of us--grumpy Bruce, the Bad Seed, and a terrible dragon. Great titles!

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  99. What a wonderful post. You’ve picked some of my absolute favorite books. Every time someone asked me what funny humorous picture books they like I always say Bob!not Bob! and potato pants because they just make me laugh so much.

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  100. Thanks, Cindy. Such good laughs here! So many elements to combine for a humorous PB. It is an impressive feat. Good luck to all who attempt it.

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  101. Thanks Cindy! I love it that these texts actually helped you with your writing. Potato Pants is so fun! Bob not Bob hilarious! And Matthew Cordells illustrations are the best. And the Bad Seed is brilliant!!! The others I can’t wait to read. Waiting for my next library load.

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  102. Bob, Not Bob! is so funny. I'd love to write a humorous book some day but it's so hard to do well. It's a tricky balance finding things that both kids and adults will think is funny.

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  103. Humor books are some of my favorite PBs to read, and laughing with the children I read them with is so much fun. Thank you for this list of mentor texts that serve as quality examples on ways to approach writing humor.

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  104. Humor, Yay! Humor, Yes, More! thanks for these great texts to study as mentors and also just to plain Enjoy! Great!

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  105. Humor is such an art, one I admire and occasionally dabble in. These are gems! Thanks for sharing.,

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  106. evafelder@hotmail.com

    Thanks Cindy! Writing humorous books is extremely hard, your comments are very helpful. Your poem, A Writer's Neuroses expresses so well all the tough roads writers have to cross. Your best advice: "Let it sit! Work on a story until you think you've got it and put it away...for at least a week, hopefully longer" is necessary but it takes a lot of patience and persistence.
    The Bad Seed is a book that many kids can identify with specially the part "It's hard to be good when you are used to be bad. All I can do is keep trying."
    "Let's smell some smelly springtime smells together" I love the alliteration in Spring Stinks.
    Bob Not Bob! is simply hilarious.
    Potato Pants a book infused with humor dealing with misunderstanding, apologizing, and forgiveness.

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  107. Great selection. Writing humor is tough, kudos to those who can do it! Thanks for a great post.

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  108. Thank you for the focus on humor! These are great titles!

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  109. We all need a good laugh! Looking forward to reading these over the weekend & studying the pacing of their humor!

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  110. humor is my favorite things to write...and read! These are some great examples. I also love where there is great adult appeal in the PB's

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  111. I love books with humor. I hope reading 1000 picture books this year will help me develop more humor in my writing. Right now my stories are more heart felt and less humorous.

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  112. Thank you - I love humor but find it a bit mysterious. My stack at the library just grew by 5.

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  113. Thanks Cindy! I'm a huge fan of every book written and/or illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins.

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  114. Great titles - I especially liked 'Dragon Was Terrible'!

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  115. I am not good with humor, so hope reading and studying these will give me some skill. Thanks.

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  116. I love humorous picture books haven't written any drafts like these but love having some current ones to read and dissect. Thanks.

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  117. Cindy,
    Funny is good for thé reader and the child. I liked the Bad Seed and Bob not Bob.

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  118. I'm glad you're highlighting humorous picture books. I feel they don't get as much critical attention as they deserve. Kids love them, and they are so much fun! We all need lightness in our lives.

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  119. Oh boy, I have never attempted to write a humorous picture book, but I enjoy reading them. I think I have to let my mind wander far enough away from my serious-self to invent a decent premise for a funny book...I'll put that on my never-ending 'TO DO' list. Thanks, Cindy!

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  120. I love reading and writing humorous picture books. These are all great books. If they have inspired your new book, it's going to be great. I look forward to seeing it one day.

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  121. Thank you Cindy! My kids love to read funny books - again, and again! They laughed out loud reading the Bad Seed and Potato Pants - such a great sound to hear!

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  122. Such great titles! I've loved Potato Pants for years! And Bob Not Bob is hilarious too. Love funny books that also have a nice subtle message or aww moment. :)

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  123. Thanks for focusing on humor...such a fun group of books!

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  124. Thanks for this list, Cindy! I love Ryan T. Higgins, and I can't wait to read The Bad Seed (the cover is fantastic!).

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  125. I am still on the wait list for all of the books you selected, but I will keep waiting! I really want to spend some quality time with these mentor texts as I am currently working on my first humorous book. I know there is much to learn! Thank you for sharing this list!

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  126. Love, Love, LOVE your recommendations. I laughed out loud when reading "Bob not Bob". Thank you for sharing!

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  127. Humor is one way to engage reluctant readers. We could all laugh more.

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  128. Silly, crazy, smiling, joking, giggling and misunderstanding is what helps kids make it through their days... especially at this time! Love these books!

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  129. Writing humorous picture books is not my strongest skill so thank you for sharing these books as examples of what a great humor story should look like.

    Donna L Martin

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  130. Great examples to study.

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  131. POTATO PANTS is very funny! Inspite of procrastinating, Potato still ended up with a pair of pants and didn't fight with Eggplant.

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  132. Love Mother Bruce - thanks for highlighting a new-to-me one!

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  133. I'm a huge fan of humorous picture books. I've written only two, and boy are they hard! Great suggestions!

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  134. Thanks for sharing your list of hilarious pb mentor texts. I'd read them all before but it was so good to revisit them and laugh again. And again.

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  135. Some of my favorites on this great list! Thank you!

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  136. Love the humor in all of the books, but especially the word choices of Potato Pants. All the different Potato lingo was very funny:)

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  137. I love funny picture books! Thank you, Cindy.

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  138. Thank you, Cindy! These look like a lot of fun!

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  139. What an amazing list of humorous books! I'm loving the BAD SEED series! Thank you!

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  140. Love Bob not Bob! So funny and relatable!

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  141. Great selection of funny books. Thanks!

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  142. Potato Pants was HILARIOUS! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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  143. Time to rid myself of my self-consciousness and just get in and try humor. Thank you for the encouragement.

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  144. I am working on a book with humor, and these texts are great ones to study. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  145. Thanks for these titles! I've heard of a few and marked the rest TBR.

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  146. You've chosen some of my favorite funny books to share here!

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  147. I love this list. I love Bob Not Bob! My second place pick is The Bad Seed. Third place goes to Spring Stinks.

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  148. Thanks for sharing these Cindy. Who doesn't love a laugh out loud picture book!? You remind me I need to check out all of Kelly DiPucchio's and Laurie Keller's books--I've only read a handful of each. I adored Bob not Bob and The Bad Seed as well!

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  149. I agree that Bob Not Bob is comedy gold and has incredible pacing. Thanks

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  150. I love these books! I try to write funny but haven't succeeded - yet. Thanks for these great examples of humor.

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  151. Cindy, these books make me smile just from their covers and titles! Thank you for sharing such a great list!

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  152. Cindy! You are the master of curating effective book lists! Thank you for this - SO much to be gained from humor!

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  153. What's better than a hilarious picture book? Thanks for the great list of titles, Cindy.

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  154. Love funny books! Thanks for these!

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  155. The bad seed - so cute and so funny! My 8yo loves this!! Great ideas on how to get a giggle from young readers.

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  156. Funny is not my comfort zone, so I appreciate this list. Thank you!

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  157. I loved all these books. Thank you so much.

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  158. I love books that make me laugh. I own Bob not Bob and Dragon Was Terrible.

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  159. I’m bummed my library odidn't have Bob, Not Bob. I’ll have to keep searching for it. Thanks for sharing!

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  160. This is where my heart lies! I will always choose funny when given a choice. ❤️

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  161. Love humorous PB’s, great list, thank you!

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  162. I agree--writing humor is definitely a balancing act.

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  163. These books are brilliant and inspiring. Thanks for the list.

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  164. Humor is tough to get right. Great mentor texts!

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  165. Thank you for this collection of humorous mentor books. Humor IS tricky!
    I was acquainted with “The Bad Seed” a revelation the first time I read it,
    and still a hands down favorite. Delighted to be introduced to the others.
    The world is full of unlikely things and circumstances ~
    potato pants, dragons that burp in church, and unexpected turns
    (Bob, not Bob!) is highly relatable.

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  166. What a great list of humorous mentor texts!

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