Funny books are always in high demand. Who doesn’t like to laugh? Of course, humor is very subjective, so what one kid finds hilarious can be utterly lame to another, but here are some humorous books that have been loved by many of our Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans, plus others with a different brand of humor.
I’ve already written here about Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. That book and its sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back, are pretty much guaranteed to be appreciated by anyone who likes the Wimpy Kid books. Angleberger has another book, not part of that series, called Horton Halfpott, or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset, that will likely also appeal.
My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian centers on a kid who doesn’t like to read trying to solve the mystery of his former babysitter’s death while she was watching him. The cartoons in the margins provide some lightness and humor, and the mystery adds some emotional weight.
Another book about a kid who hates to read, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading (by Tommy Greenwald) follows a middle school boy’s exploits as he attempts to get by in school without ever cracking a book. Funny and fast-paced.
Time travel? Check. Aliens? Check. Two kids trying to save the world? Check. Herbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson has all of these, and more.
Micheal Buckley’s NERDS
series (about the National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society, populated by superhero spies who have gone undercover into middle school) has an interesting dilemma. Kids who are reading these books LOVE them, but there is a bit of reluctance to initially check them out because of the title. It’s funny, because once one kid takes the plunge, that whole class will happily check them out and talk about them and speculate on when the next one is coming out. Fast, adventurous, and very silly.
The Fourth Stall
by Chris Rylander is the goofy, suspenseful story of how a kid named Mac’s bathroom-stall business (he helps protect little kids from bullies; get underage kids into R-rated movies; sells test answers–pretty much anything for a buck or two) gets complicated when he goes up against a big bully with a gambling ring. Kids get hooked right away by the whole idea of a shady business run out of an unused school bathroom stall, and the suspense over what Staples (the big bully) will do next pulls them through.
(by Frank Cottrell Boyce), 12-year-old Liam looks like an adult and ends up in various funny, odd situations as a result (test driving a car, for example). His ability to pass as a grown-up is all good fun until he ends up being the only “adult” on a spacecraft full of kids that is off course and heading for disaster. This novel is far-fetched, for sure, but great fun to read.
Anything by Daniel Pinkwater. Pinkwater has a quirky sense of humor, so he’s the sort of writer one either loves or hates. I have met adults who say that reading his books when they were kids changed their lives. Check out The Neddiad
and/or The Yggyssey
for a middle-school-friendly taste of Pinkwater’s odd, goofy writing style.
It occurs to me, looking at this list, that all of the protagonists are boys. That’s not right! I think they are books that will appeal to both boys and girls, but I don’t like having a post with that imbalance. So, coming soon: a post on funny stuff with girl protagonists. If anyone has suggestions of titles for such a post, please send them along!
I also apologize for the awful layout of the images/text here. If anyone can tell me how to fix that, I’m anxious to hear it!