You know it’s a set-up when you see a title like This Is a Serious Book. But it’s an enticing set-up: just how is this book going to be un-serious? If you’ll be reading to one child or a group of children (I’m thinking ages 4 – 7 are prime targets), this will get them seriously involved and laughing. After all, even the front flap of the book jacket lists the rules in capital letters before you start, including BEHAVE, BE QUIET, NO LAUGHING, and NO CHEWING. But for some reason, the donkey doesn’t get it. And it’s sort of contagious. The zebra is black and white, like a serious book should be, but certainly does not ACT serious.
Some acting by the person reading books like this aloud seriously helps, as shown in this video of B.J. Novak with his The Book with No Pictures. A book that talks about the value of words in helping us understand and feel, even without pictures, is This Is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier.
For another hilarious story session, you can try one of my all-time favorites by Mo Willems—Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Here the Pigeon pleads (and pleads) with the reader/listener to back him up because he wants to drive the bus (who doesn’t??) even though the driver says no, for some unknown reason. In fact, all the Pigeon books, as well as Willems's Elephant and Piggie series, evoke "serious" responses from readers of all ages with a very few well-chosen words.
Review by Lynn