Well, if you’ve ever been within 20 feet of me and a kid I’m reading to, you know I’m not afraid to be a little ridiculous to get a giggle. Everyone from teachers I’ve worked with, to parents I’ve tutored for, my in-laws, and repairmen tinkering with my dryer have probably questioned my sanity. All of the characters I write into stories for my girls have silly voices of their own. So, if you’d like to get a little creative yourself, here are a few of my favorites.
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
My name is Skippito Friskito.
I fear not a single bandito.
My manners are mellow,
I’m sweet like the Jell-O,
I get the job done, yes indeed-o.
When I met the author, Judy Schacher, her instructions for reading Skippyjon Jones were to always read it in an Antonio Banderas voice. While the bad bumble-beeto frightened my 4-year-old (her tastes are rather delicate), I thoroughly enjoyed this wild and crazy book. Judy Schachner is a wonderful speaker, and during her presentation she showed us pictures of her real cats that inspired the cats in her books. Her other titles are great, too. I especially enjoyed The Grannyman. She’s such a talented author/illustrator, and a warm, funny person, too.
The Twits, by Roald Dahl
This book is incredibly hilarious. But it is all the hilariouser if you read it like a couple of crazy hillbillies. My girls are still too young for this one, but I’ve read it to many a school-aged kid. I’ve also given the following advice, which applies to the horrible Mrs. Twit and everyone:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
As the story goes, Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, ugliest, nastiest old people around who play increasing devious tricks on one another, until finally their pet monkeys, the Muggle Wumps, have had enough. Classic Roald Dahl.
My personal favorite line to holler is, “You’ve got the shrinks, woman!” after Mr. Twit slowly increased the height of his wife’s cane, chair, and everything else in the house to convince her she’s shrinking. I also enjoy “I’m watchin you,” as Mr. Twit watches his wife gaping into her mug with his glass eye looking up at her. Honestly, I did get a little tired of it by the end, but the first 2/3 are so funny, it was worth it.
Wee G. by Harriet Ziefert
Wee G. is the story of a little kitten who goes out to play, gets lost, and finds her way back home. The pictures are unusual, the text is simple, and Wee G. is oh, so fun to make talk. If you ask me, I may or may not oblige your request to say, “I was scared, but now I’m happy!” It’s a really cute story for the little ones.
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
This is the cutest story in the universe! Girls and boys will love it. Tom Lichtenheld puts so much personality into his various clouds and creatures, you won’t be able to resist giving them each a voice of their own. From the adorable Cloudette to the big, puffy storm clouds, to the wispy ones that say things like “prodigious precipitation, Pipsqueak,” this book is truly unique and fun. And it reminds kids that no one is too small to do something big and important.