These books are meant to tickle your funny bone, and we have happily read each of them many, many times. They are ridiculous, far-fetched, colorful stories, great for snuggling up with and giggling over.
The Topsy Turvies, story by Francesca Simon, pictures by Keren Ludlow
The Topsy Turvies are just your ordinary family – Mom, Dad, son Vern and daughter Fern – who happen to wake up for the day at midnight, insist their children eat their cake before they get their tomatoes, put pajamas on to go outside, and prefer their furniture upside down. They live next door to Mrs. Plum, who needs their help one day to look after her little Lucy. The Topsy Turvies are astonished at the strange habits of the Plums, who store their food in the kitchen and teach Lucy not to draw on the walls! They set about to take proper care of Lucy and set Mrs. Plum’s house in “apple pie order.” Meanwhile, they manage to inadvertently thwart a burglar who is quickly unnerved by the Topsy Turvies’ welcoming ways. Mrs. Topsy Turvy is quite philosophical about their differences with the neighbors, as the family tries to comprehend the odd ways of the Plums. “It takes all sorts to make a world,” she says – a line we have used many times in our family! Brilliantly-colored illustrations add a lot of pizzazz to this delightful story.
Imogene’s Antlers, story and pictures by David Small
Imogene, a steady, young girl of about 8, wakes up on Thursday and discovers that overnight she has grown antlers. A huge, spreading rack! This presents a number of difficulties, as you can imagine. Imogene’s mother has fainting fits, the doctor is flummoxed, the school principal is not amused…but Imogene seems to take it all in stride. In fact, she discovers that antlers are useful for some things, such as storing doughnuts, or functioning as an enormous candelabra. Imogene goes to bed Thursday night, peacefully and happily remembering her eventful day. When she wakes up, the antlers are gone. But…wait till you see what has cropped up instead! So surprising! The illustrations in this book perfectly match the absurd story. David Small has won many awards for his work, and for good reason. We love Imogene!
Tooth-Gnasher Superflash, story and pictures by Daniel Pinkwater
Mr. and Mrs. Popsnorkle need a new car. The old Thunderclap-Eight just isn’t cutting it anymore. So they take their five little Popsnorkles and head off to the car dealership. The car that catches their attention is a model called the Tooth-Gnasher Superflash. Mrs. Popsnorkle agrees that “it is a pretty color” — light blue – so the whole family plus the car salesman all pile in for a test drive. The little Popsnorkles scream their approval very loudly; Mrs. Popsnorkle can’t stop admiring its lovely shade of blue; Mr. Popsnorkle checks out the mysterious buttons on the dashboard; the car salesman lapses into a state of shock! These buttons cause the car to turn into a racing dinosaur, a galloping elephant, and even a flying chicken, which Mr. Popsnorkle seems to think are fine features for a car, though not quite up to the good ol’ Thunderclap-Eight’s standards. He buys it, and we see the Popsnorkles drive off, deliriously happy. A completely crazy story, with crazy illustrations, which we love. We quote Mrs. Popsnorkle frequently!
All in One Piece, story and pictures by Jill Murphy
Mr. and Mrs. Large are elephants. They have four very active, curious children, who fatigue Mrs. Large quite frequently, as young children will do! Mrs. Large loves her children and seems to do a beautiful job of raising them. Nonetheless, she is very pleased to go to the office dinner dance with Mr. Large so that she can have just one night when she is not “covered in jam and poster paint” and can put on her new dress and exit the house “all in one piece.” Getting all gussied up for the dance while the children cavort with her new tights and make-up and generally cause problems, wholly unintentionally, causes Mrs. Large to become a bit snappish! But finally she descends the stairs and is pronounced “smashing” by her admiring husband and family. Mrs. Large feels victorious as they leave for the evening, commenting that they have “not a smear of paint between us.” Mr. Large gallantly declares that she would look wonderful even if she were covered in paint. This is a fortunate remark, because…well, you’ll have to read the book to know why!
There are several books about the Large family. Each of them is a funny-and-sweet gem!
Mrs. Armitage on Wheels, story and pictures by Quentin Blake
Mrs. Armitage is an adventurous, inventive, glass-half-full kind of gal who owns a bicycle and a dog named Breakspear. The two of them set out for a bike ride one day, but before long Mrs. Armitage recognizes that the bike is lacking something essential: a horn. She fixes this problem very neatly, buying and installing three highly effective horns, and continuing on her way. Soon, however, she has trouble with the bike chain, and has to fix that, too. Which means her hands are greasy and need washing. Mrs. Armitage realizes that a proper bike ought to have somewhere to wash your hands. This problem, too, she cleverly addresses, by installing a bucket of water, a towel, a soap rack, and a bar of soap. As Mrs. Armitage merrily pedals along, a number of inadequacies present themselves to her keen mind, and her bike becomes decked out with more and more conveniences, until…Do you really think I’m going to tell you the ending?!
Quentin Blake is one of England’s most loved and decorated author/illustrators. His drawings of Mrs. Armitage are genius, and they make us all fall in love with her quirky self. There are several other Mrs. Armitage titles, though I’m not sure how available they are in the U.S.