Surprise! Picture books with a twist

One of the perks of my job is that I get to read A LOT of picture books.  Some are predictable, some are boring (How many different possible ABC books can there BE?), but most are fun and funny.  And they often have that unexpected twist at the end that makes you laugh.  Here are some favorites that I particularly like to use for story times.

When a Monster is Born, by Sean Taylor (lexile: 790; AR book level: 4.0; 28 pp)

“When a monster is born, there are TWO possibilities … either it’s a faraway-in-the-forests monster, or … it’s an under-your-bed monster.”  At each step, this funny, circular tale branches into two options.  One is a dead end (“if it’s a faraway-in-the-forests monster, that’s that.”)  The other leads to two more options, as the not-very-scary lime green monster with buck teeth goes to school, eats the principal and — can it be? — ultimately falls in love.

This book BEGS to be read aloud to a group of kids.  The pictures are big, bright and colorful, and the pacing of the page turns with the story is perfect.  Once your listeners catch on, they’ll be chanting “there are TWO possibilities” and “that’s that!” with each repetition.

The Doghouse, by Jan Thomas (lexile: NA; AR book level: 0.7; 40 pp)

Cow, Pig, Duck, and Mouse are kicking the ball, when the ball — oh no! — goes into THE DOGHOUSE!  WHO will be brave enough to go in and get it out?  Cow is volunteered first — but he goes in and DOESN’T come out!  Now who will go?  Big bright pictures, and a clever ending make this a fun read-aloud with preschoolers.  There’s just enough tension to make it pretend-scary, but a happy ending for all.

Cow, Pig, Duck, and Mouse all return in A Birthday for Cow.  I also like Thomas’ very funny Rhyming Dust Bunnies and Here Comes the Big Mean Dust Bunny.

Bertie Was a Watchdog, by Rick Walton (lexile: 800; AR book level: 2.1; 56 pp)

Bertie was a watchdog … not because he was big and mean and scary, but because he was about the size of a WATCH!  Will tiny little Bertie be able to thwart the big mean robber who sneaks into the house one night?  You’ll chuckle when you find out!  (If you’re reading aloud, be sure to  have everyone BARK REALLY LOUD!)


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