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Children's Books for April Fool's Day for Preschool, Storytime, or Anytime
On April Fool's Day you never know what might happen. The national day for practical jokes, hijinks, and good old-fashioned silly fun, this first day of April is a great way to scare away the last cold days of winter. Some zany, fun, and off-the-wall books are in order to celebrate this holiday that is full of things that are not what they seem. Humor and trickster characters are an important element in the following selections.
- The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg tells about a young boy Louis and his new pet Alphonse, a mysterious tadpole from a far-away uncle in Scotland who quickly grows bigger and bigger and bigger, until he becomes a full-grown lochness monster. When Alphonse outgrows his original containers, Louis hides his big pet in the bathtub, but when he outgrows that, the boy finds him a new home in the local swimming pool. The story builds from there! This book is over 25 years old and now entertaining a new generation of readers.
- A second selection by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is The Boy Who Was Followed Home. I can think of few sillier things than being followed home by a hippopotamus, unless it is a group of hippos! This hilarious story will have you laughing out loud.
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler is the story of a trick that backfires. A little mouse invents a scary monster with whom he is going to have dinner in order to scare off the animals who would eat him. Unfortunately, the Gruffalo really does show up for dinner! This wildly popular book is entertaining and topical for all would-be tricksters.
- Wacky Wednesdayby Dr. Seuss (originally published as Theodore LeSieg, which is Seuss's last name spelled backwards) is a great selection for April Fools Day. On Wacky Wednesday, nothing is normal. Each silly page of this book shows more and more strange happenings.
- For April Fool's Day being tricked is the name of the game, so it is fitting to include the well-known Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes. One recommended version is retold by Virginia Lee Burton. This book is 48 pages long but includes simple, straightforward text and exquisitely detailed pictures. Burton is also the author of the familiar Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel. For those unfamiliar with this story, a vain and haughty emperor who is obsessed by clothes is tricked by two robbers disguised as tailors. They promise to make the emperor a suit of fine new clothes, out of magic, invisible cloth.
- Coyote and the Laughing Butterfliesis a folktale of the Tewa Indians by Harriett Peck Taylor. Often in native American folktales, it is Coyote who is the trickster character, but in this delightful story it is Coyote who gets tricked! Coyote's wife sends him on an errand to get salt from a far-off riverbed. But each time he makes the arduous journey, he falls asleep and a group of mischievous butterflies trick him and carry him back to his home without the salt and prevent him from accomplishing his task. After three days of tricking poor coyote, the butterflies finally relent, and help him finish his task. And just in time too, because Coyote's wife is ma-ad! The illustrations in this story are vibrant watercolors. This is a great read-aloud for kindergarten and up.
- April Foolishness by Teresa Bateman and Nadine Bernard Wescott is a story of foolery on the farm. Children are playing all kinds of hijinx and Grandpa isn't falling for it. This popular April Fool's day selection features a surprise ending that will have everyone tittering.
- Trick a Tracker by Michael Foreman is subtitled "the Zaniest Animal Fable Ever." And that very well may be true. The animals and humans coexist peacefull until the humans begin acting beastly. Now the animals come up with a crazy scheme to trick the human trackers who are hunting them. The answer? Skateboards of course! The animals ride along on skateboards to disguise their tracks from the humans. This very silly book is as unusual as they come, and a great selection for reading aloud.
- Sometimes jokes aren't funny when they make others feel bad. Marjorie Willis' book That's Not Funny is a cautionary tale of what happens when practical jokes go too far. Hyena the prankster thinks his jokes are hilarious, but he changes his mind when the joke's on him. This book has some potty humor in it, but the message of practical jokes that can cause harm is a good social lesson for youngsters.