Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be DADA
Really simple book with simple illustrations, but quite sweet. Won’t be a classic, but could be a perfect gift for a new dad.
Best for: ages 1-3, available as a boardbook
Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals Pop-Up
With 6 big pop-up scenes and more windows you can open. Quirky and inventive words to describe made up creatures. Written purely to enjoy the creatures: nothing educational here. Word of caution: Ricky Gervais, an outspoken athiest, creates satire of the human race quite subtly in this book. There is a humanish creature who believes in a creator known as “Grob,” a likely reference to God. He uses the adjective “mental” to describe the idea.
Best for: ages 5-9
Jerry Seinfeld’s Halloween
This is a typical Seinfeldian take on all things Halloween-ish, including masks made with cheap staples, the thinnest rubber bands in the world, and, of course, candy! One amazon reviewer described it as “more a book for parents than kids, more for Seinfeld fans than others, but enjoyable for all.” Included is a CD where Seinfeld reads/performs the book for a live audience.
Best for: ages 3-6
Steve Martin’s Late for School
We’ve all done it: woke up thinking you are late for school. In the rush to make it to school on time, a young boy jumps a fence, encounters a swimming pool and catches a ride on a kite, making it to school with minutes to spare only to discover that there is no school because it’s SATURDAY! Martin’s characteristic humor works well for children. Included is a CD of Martin playing the banjo and singing the story. Perfect for listening on the first day of school.
Best for: ages 5+
Ray Ramano’s Raymie, Dickie, and the Bean: Why I Love and Hate My Brothers (Book and CD)
Before everyone loved Raymond (or Parenthood!), Ray was just the middle child between two brothers. This is a telling of a trip to an amusement park when he was 10. Written for kids, but with a tone and tongue and cheek humor that definitely had the parent readers in mind, too.
Best for: all ages
Billy Crystal’s I Already Know I Love You
Such a sweet book written from a grandfather’s heart as he awaits the birth of his biological granddaughter and anticipates all the things they will do together. (I mention their relationship specifically, because it may not be appropriate for another family situation.) Written very sincerely with dream-like illustrations, yet it also has a few awkward phrasing and inadequately forced rhymes, such as “I’m waiting to show you a lie is never as good as true.” I read of one couple who gave this book to their dad as their pregnancy announcement. Sweet way to find out, huh?
Best for: 4-7
Michael Ian Black’s Chicken Cheeks
This silly book features the hind quarters of animals, complete with silly names for them, from beginning to—yup—end: “rhinoceros rump,” “penguin patootie,” “polar bear derriere,” “turkey tushy.” What 4-8 year old doesn’t love hearing new names for bottoms? So once you’ve read it a few times or 10, look for the two ants on each page. This is also the perfect book to give to reading kiddos to read to younger siblings. Win-win!
Best for: ages 4-8
The Pied Piper of Hamelin: Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales
Brand’s version of the medieval German folktale. As in the original, the citizens agree to pay the strange piper if he can remove the town’s rats. Brand very ingeniously writes his observations of the character of Hamelin’s citizens, like Fat Dave and Sexist Bob. But he also writes loud and (too) crass voices in between the brilliance. One librarian who reviewed it said, “One can write a children’s book with wryly amusing social commentary; one can write a children’s book replete with poop and fart jokes. It is nearly impossible to balance the two.” It was a promising idea, and maybe for older kiddos, it’s a fine read-perhaps after they’ve read Browning’s version.
Best for: 8+
BJ Novak’s The Book with No Pictures
This is, as it’s title says, a book with no pictures but everything written must be said by the reader. I liked it, and had fun with it, being the obedient reader that I am, and appreciate the message that reading, even without illustrations, can be fun. This was one we got from the library and that’s probably what we recommend, because a few reads was enough.
Best for: ages 5-8
Jim Carrey’s How Roland Rolls
A wave named Roland worries his life will be over when he hits the shore until he realizes he’s not just the wave but the entire ocean. The story’s wave metaphor is an attempt to show Carrey’s belief in humanity’s interconnectedness but the story just doesn’t explain it in a kid-friendly way. As Roland realizes he is the ocean, we see him in rivers, puddles, sinks– even tears. Young readers who don’t yet understand the water cycle, won’t get the message. And the last line of the book : “You’re like Roland and you’ll always be rollin’ along. The End.” seems nice but, just seems to end.
Best for: 4-8
Have you read any of these yet? Have any other favorite books written for kids by comedians? Add them to our list in the comments.
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