a list of…five stories with weird and wacky creatures!

The Funny Thing, written and illustrated by Wanda Gág

Bobo is a pudgy, old man, with a Rip Van Winkle beard, who lives in the mountains in a snug cave-home.  He is a dear fellow, with a tender heart for all the birds and animals around him.  They come, daily, to Bobo’s door, and he sets out a lovely feast for them:  nutcakes for the squirrels, seed puddings for the birds, and so on.

One day, however, Bobo is visited by a Funny Thing.  It looks like a dog-giraffe sort of creature and has beautiful blue points running from the top of its head to the tip of its long tail.  Bobo offers the Funny Thing some of his tasty foods, but the Funny Thing just sticks its nose in the air and refuses everything.  Whatever could it want to eat?

To his great dismay, Bobo learns that the Funny Thing is accustomed to eating dolls!  Dolls belonging to good little children who feel terribly sad about this!  What can Bobo do?  Well, he invents something very clever called jum-jills, and you will have to read the story to find out how exactly Bobo and his jum-jills save the day.

Wanda Gág is best known, of course, for Millions of Cats, but she wrote several other clever books as well,  illustrating them with her trademark ink drawings and hand-lettering.  This one is a charming, satisfying story for little people ages 4 and up.

Slightly Invisible: featuring Charlie and Lola, with a special appearance by Soren Lorensen, written and illustrated by Lauren Child

Charlie and Lola are an absolute hoot, in case you don’t know them.

Charlie is the older brother.  Lola adores him and wants to be with him At All Times.  Charlie is mostly okay with this, BUT when he and his pal Marv are looking for strange and tricky creatures…they prefer Lola to not come.  She just has a way of…wrecking things.

One day Charlie and Marv whip up a special invisibility potion.  It’s pink.  When it goes missing from the fridge, Lola claims to have only had a tiny sip; she’s given the rest to her friend Soren Lorensen who slurped it down and  is now invisible.

It is mighty convenient to have an invisible friend, as you will see if you read this book.  Not only that, but when Charlie, Marv, Lola and Soren set out to catch the most strange and terrifyingly tricky creature in the universe…Soren has all the best ideas.

Zany, happy fun.  That’s what you get with Charlie and Lola.  Child’s brilliant mixed-media illustrations and humorous stories have earned top honors in the UK.  The cherry on top of this story is the slightly-invisible Soren Lorensen (who you can actually see if you are expertly tricky!!)  Ingenuous.

McElligot’s Pool, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

You will never catch fish in McElligot’s Pool, the farmer tells Marco.  It’s podunk, and full of odd bits of junk.  Marco allows that he might be right, but…you never can tell.

It might be a pool with an underground current connecting it to the sea, and then!  Well, then there’s no telling what you might catch!  Fish that crow like roosters, maybe!  Fish made of strawberry jelly!  Skiing fish!  Circus fish!  Whales, even! 

Marco’s imagination encompasses an entire catalog of extraordinary, unconventional fish, and that is why he is willing to be oh-so-patient, with his bobber resting serenely atop McElligot’s Pool.

Dr. Seuss is the unparalleled genius of bizarre creatures.  This is just one of his delightful, entertaining stories in which he lets his imagination run wild, inspiring countless children to do the same.  Fantastic!

Have You Ever Seen a Sneep?, by Tasha Pym, pictures by Joel Stewart

The hero in our story is a pleasant, unassuming boy, who really just likes peace and quiet and all things ordinary.  Just minds his own business and would like to get on with it without the frustrating antics of, for example Sneeps.

“Have you ever set out a picnic in a truly splendid spot, turned your back for just one second to find a Sneep has pinched the lot?” he asks us.  It’s one of those annoyances that really vex him, it seems.

This nicest of boys goes on to question us about other pet peeves:  the dastardly Snook, for instance, or those nasty Grullocks.  When he discovers that we don’t have any contact with these pests where we live, there is really only one solution.  Can you guess it?

Simply absurd and whimsical, this story is wonderfully illustrated by the talented Joel Stewart.  With his subtle, tender palette and line, he brings an understated charm to the portly Sneep in her yellow polka-dot dress, the flamboyant Knoo whose amethyst pigtails spring from a soggy-marshmallow head, and our young hero who appears to have stepped out of a Kate Greenway world.  Quite a treat.

No Such Things, written and illustrated by Bill Peet

From blue-snouted Twumps to pie-faced Pazeeks, spooky-tailed Tizzies, and fancy Fandangos, Bill Peet here presents us with a colorful guide to fifteen preposterous creatures! 

Turn the pages of this book and you will meet mountain goats whose long horns curve right around their backsides and continue on beneath their feet to form skis!   Also, the sly, snickering Snoof who looks a bit like a bear with its feet on backwards, which enables it to outwit hunters, sending them the wrong direction as they track him through the snow.  All these creatures’ kooky habits are written up in Peet’s rhythmic verse.

I said earlier that Dr. Seuss is unrivalled; well, I’ll have to eat my words.  Bill Peet has long been a favorite, especially of my son.  His marvelous imagination, jaunty verses, and excellent, colored pencil artwork, have won him a huge fan base.  This book will tickle your fancy and your funny bone, and just might prompt  kids to create wacky creatures of their own.

Here are Amazon links to all these weird and wonderful books:

 The Funny Thing
Slightly Invisible (Charlie and Lola)
McElligot’s Pool (Classic Seuss)
Have You Ever Seen a Sneep?
No Such Things