Brittany Pomales Kidlit Haha Week Kidlit Haha Week Day #3: CHAOS IN COMEDY: MISHAPS, MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND MISCHIEF FOR MAXIMUM MAYHEM with Justin Colón



  1. One of my favorite funny picture books is Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox. Llama’s mishaps lead to utter mayhem and the structure of the book where the ending is revealed right away does a great job of amplifying the humor!

    Thanks for all the tips on writing great humor!

  2. Thank you for this post, Justin!
    Favorite misunderstanding/mishap: Penelope interacting with the children in We Don’t Eat Our Classmates.
    Congratulations on this book and all your successes!

  3. One of my newer favorite funny PBs is Juat Snow Already by Howard McWilliam! I LOVE how the illustrations bring soooo much unexpected mayhem! Clowns and monkeys outside a child’s window, but he doesn’t notice because all he wants is for it to JUST SNOW ALREADY! So funny! Thanks for the opportunity, Justin! Your books sound amazing and exactly the kind of humor my family loves!

    1. I haven’t heard of that one, Nicole. I’ll have to check it out–thanks for the recommendation. And I appreciate the kind words!

  4. Thanks for sharing all the mishaps, misunderstandings and mischief in these great mentor texts! One of my favorite misunderstandings is from MOTHER BRUCE when all the goslings mistake the bear for their mother. This mistaken identity follows him throughout several books. I can’t wait to read all your books! Thanks for all these tips.

    1. Great choice, Cindy. Mother Bruce was originally a mentor text for this blog post (before I realized I’d just compiled a list of my favorite books). I especially like the spreads showing how Bruce acquired the eggs.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  5. One mishap/misunderstanding story I loved is Invasion of the Unicorns by David Biedrzycki

  6. Thanks for this super helpful post!
    I love the “Chicken, Pig, Cow” series by Ruth Ohi–in particular, the mischief in “Chicken, Pig, Cow Horse Around” where chicken sends horse on a wild goose chase. Heart + humour ensue!

  7. What an awesome collection of resources and mentor texts. Thanks, Justin!
    One of my favorites for this is THE TROUBLEMAKER by Lauren Castillo, where the mischief comes back around. @katie_mcenaney on Twitter

  8. Thank you for such a fun and informative post, Justin! These are some great mentor texts and I can’t wait to read your upcoming books as well.
    One of my more recent favorites is How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide by Ame Dyckman and Jennifer Harney. The over-the-top reasons given for each dino are so silly and kid-centric, and paired with perfectly hilarious illustrations! Such a great read for kids and adults who need a laugh.

    1. My pleasure, Julie. Thanks for commenting. Ame Dyckman and Jenn Harney are a great team. I use that book in my humor class when discussing dark humor.

  9. Great post, Justin! I love the mishaps of the Mother Bruce series. Looking forward to reading your forthcoming books—congrats!

    1. Thanks for sharing, and the kind words, Jessica. Mother Bruce (and Ryan’s books) are great examples of mishaps, and often mischief.

  10. Wow! This has so much greatness packed into it! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to read your books! One of my favorite mischievous characters is the MC from Mustache Baby. The word play and art associated with what he steals or destroys is hilarious! (Ex. Cereal criminal- stealing/eating all the breakfast cereal)

    1. Mustache Baby is a great pick, Ryann! (great example of text and visuals working to create something funny).

      And, thank you for the kind words.

  11. OHHH!!! Forgot to include my favorite mishap/misunderstanding/mischief. I love Magnolia’s mischief in If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON’T!!! and the misunderstanding in Potato Pants

    1. Ahh, that Magnolia. She’s a mischievous one. But a fun, strong character. And you’re right, Potato Pants is a prime example of misunderstandings (with heart).

  12. I love running into the unexpected in humorous PBs. Speaking of humorous, I can’t wait THE QUACKEN!

      1. And my favorite humorous PB is WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES… which I see in this thread is a favorite of many readers! So. Well. Done!

  13. What a great post! My favorite example of MISCHIEF (which you could say also causes some MAYHEM) is the picture book OFF LIMITS by Helen Yoon. The MC’s mischievous fun is maximized by page turns and simplicity!

  14. I’ve been wanting to lean more into humor in my manuscripts. Thanks for this great toe-dip into the ocean of humor!

    1. It sounds like Kidlit Haha Week is just what you’re looking for, Marti. Wishing you all the best as you dive into the land of humor/comedy for children (and adults, too).

    1. I’ll add The Boy Who Cried Ninja (Alex Latimer) to the chaotic misunderstandings list. Tim does the right thing telling the truth…but the truth is too wild to believe.

  15. On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex was my first thought before coming to the blog post. Bad Dog by Mike Boldt is another, though I suppose it’s less a case of mistaken identity and more one of willful self-delusion. In any case, it’s funny.

  16. Great post! I love all the examples. Congratulations on your books, Justin! Can’t wait to read them. Thanks for sharing. My favorite mischief in a picture book is found in Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin. Love that the animals make demands using a typewriter!

  17. Thanks for sharing these great tips for creating chaos in comedy! One of our households new favorite pbs is NOT MY CIRCUS by Janet Sumner Johnson and Patrick Corrigan. We love the chaos created by Olivia’s circus (she was supposed to buy eggs, but who can resist a circus for sale??)!

  18. One of my favorite mishaps is in A Spoonful of Frogs. Of course frogs will not go willingly into a cauldron! Thank you for the helpful post!

  19. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information! I think one of my most recent favorite books with plenty of mischief is HOW DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT: A SAFETY GUIDE by Ame Dyckman, illo by Jennifer Harney. Those dinos sure know how to get into a good bit of trouble!

  20. One of my favorite moments of mischief is from NORMAN DIDN’T DO IT ( YES, HE DID), when Norman kidnaps the tree he is jealous of in the dead of night and plants it far, far away.

  21. Thanks for offering the critique, Justin. A Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet is one of my favorite PBs. When he “chomps on the moon like a big chunk of cheese” is a mischief that has me in splits every time!

  22. Thanks for the comedic wrap-up! I know this is marking my age, but I’ve always loved the hilarious wordplay and misunderstandings of the Amelia Bedelia series.

  23. What great mentor texts! Thank you. My favorite PB mishap is from Olivia when that mischievous little pig Jackson Pollocks (v.) the wall at home after a museum visit with her mom.

  24. “Ronan The Librarian” is chock full of laughs as Ronan, who misunderstands what books are for, tries to figure out what to do with all the books he and his Viking buddies have acquired during their raids.

  25. Great article, Justin. I was especially struck by STUCK (Oliver Jeffers) and it has stuck with me ever since as one of the funnier PBs I’ve read, and then practically anything by Adam Rex, especially XO,OX: A Love Story. Thanks for your offer.

  26. I do love the silly antics in the illustrations in Down the Hole by Scott Slater and Adam Ming

  27. What an informative article this was! Thank you, Brittany!
    A favorite misunderstanding in a picture book that I loved was in Ame Dyckman’s “How Dinosaurs Went Extinct.” Who knew how dangerous tipping a chair backwards was?

  28. Thanks for this informative read Justin! I gotta say, We Don’t Eat our Classmates is a fav in our household, so that’s an easy favourite in this post. Although, The Quacken sounds (and looks, from the little teaser) hilarious, so I’ll add that as another potential fav 😉

  29. Oh my gosh, so many possibilities. But I need to mention Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, when the Bear eats the Bunny. Uh oh! Thanks for doing this, Justin!

  30. One of my favorite mischief books is “Baa Baa Smart Sheep” by Mark and Rowan Sommerset. I found the book while living in New Zealand. Little Baa Baa is bored, and when Quirky Turkey comes along, she can’t resist convincing him that the pile on the ground is really a pile of smarty tablets. I laughed out loud in the store when I found it! (a sticker on the book says Warning container mischief!)

    1. Hello, Mary. You are the winner of the giveaway and have won a free critique through The Kidlit Hive. Please email kidlithive (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize. CONGRATULATIONS!

  31. Great post, Justin! Some of my favorite mischief in PB’s are from Micheal Slacks Kitties on Dinosaurs and Dinosaurs on Kitty Island! In both books dinos and kitties are just doing what they do best but contrary nature of the two species interacting is a lot of ridiculous fun! Really looking forward to reading your forthcoming books!

  32. Thank you for this post, Justin! SO many wonderful comps to refer back to! I can’t wait to read THE QUACKEN and I hope to be selected for your critique!
    Favorite misunderstanding: When Penelope learns her classmates are NOT for eating in WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES.

    1. One of my favorites, Blaire. It’s especially funny when one of the students says, “Mrs. Noodleman. Penelope ate William Omoto again!”

      Thanks for the kind words about my books 🙂

  33. What a fantastic fun-filled post! Thank you, Justin! Some of my favorite shenanigans happen in Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers series! I mean, what could go wrong when you’re engineering fantastical things?!

  34. Love the info!!!
    “Wordy Birdy” by Tammi Sauer is full of hilarious conflict. Wordy just can’t help from constantly talking and is clueless of danger around him!!

  35. Thank you for this awesome blog post! So much helpful information! One of my favorite recent misunderstanding books is Mr. S. And the illustrations! The action in the background out the window as the kids try to suss out the situation. and the twist ending. Loved it all!

  36. Thank you, Justin, for the fun and informative post. I can’t wait to read your books. One of my favorite hilarious book is My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown filled with humor, mayhem, and mischief.

  37. In “stuck” by Oliver Jeffers. When everything is stuck in the tree. “Then he had an idea and went and found a saw. He lined it up as best he could…and hurled it up the tree.” Gets me every time and hilarious to see my students react

  38. Thanks for the post, Justin! THE DAY LOUIS GOT EATEN by John Fardell is a hilarious book that I return to again and again. Deadpan mayhem, solved without parental involvement.

    1. I’m with you about Penelope, Carrie. Not only is the premise funny, but Ryan crafted a protagonist we love and root for.

      And you’re, right. This is like an intro to my class, isn’t it?

  39. One of my favorite funny picture books is Alex Willmore’s I DID SEE A MAMMOTH!. It would probably fall into the “misunderstandings” category, but it has some mishaps and mischief, too.

  40. Great mentor texts! I know what I’ll be checking out of my local library soon. My favorite mishaps and misunderstandings are all the things Granda Latke misinterprets in telling the story of Hanukkah in Meet the Latkes by Alan Silberberg

  41. Thank you for sharing so many great examples! I love all the mishaps in The Day The Crayons Quit.

  42. My daughter and I just read LUCKY DUCK by Greg Pizzoli and we laughed hysterically at the conclusion. Using your post, the premise is based on the duck misunderstanding the wolf when he gives her “prizes” to make soup, and the payoff is mischief when the wolf’s demise is his chaotic literal fall into the things that had made the duck feel unlucky. So simple, so hilarious bc the reader knows what the wolf is trying to do but the duck is oblivious. Plus hilarious illustrations. Great blog post!

    1. I just read this one a few weeks ago and need to give it another read. It’s a great text for mishaps and mischief. And even misunderstanding, like you pointed out. Great analysis.

      Thanks for reading, Deena!

  43. I am going to go back about 9 years when I first started to read picture when I took my 2yo to the library. Before I started writing picture books. The hilarious misunderstanding from I AM NOT A CHAIR by Ross Burach. Thanks for the list of humorous books to check out.

  44. Thank you for this post, Justin! It is JAM-packed with information.
    My favorite misunderstanding/mishap is from the first Beth Ferry book I ever read – LAND SHARK. It was so clever and funny, and the entire premise is based on the young boy getting a dog instead of a shark as a pet – NOT the pet he wanted.

  45. Thanks for sharing all that great information! My favorite misunderstanding in a picture book is in MR. S. It’s hilarious how the kids cater to the sandwich, and the surprise ending was terrific!

  46. Thank you so much Justin! This post is SuPeR helpful and informative! My favorite picture book at the moment that is loaded with MiScHieF and heart is Jory John’s, The Great Eggscape.

    1. I’m pleased to hear you found this post informative, Sheila. I haven’t read Jory John and Pete Oswald’s The Great Eggscape yet. I’ll have to check it out soon. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Great post! I’ve always loved Donkey’s misunderstanding of what Yam tries to explain in I YAM A DONKEY.

  48. I loved the mischievous ending in Horswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit by Josh Crute and Jenn Harney. The mischievous twist at the end was so great and felt so good after the wacky tension-building antics of the mysterious hornswoggler.

    1. Great pick, Sharon! That’s one of the mentor text I use in my humor class. A great example of a mishap and misunderstanding really being the basis of the story.

  49. This is such helpful information. Thank you Justin & Brittany! I love Sophie’s Squash (Miller & Wilsdorf) and Sparky (Offill & Appelhans) for their clever wit & humor. I mean, a sloth checks the boxes … and why can’t a squash be a beloved doll? Both more parent-child conflicts, so hilarious for both parent and child when reading together.

  50. I love this post, thanks for sharing! I think Off-Limits written and illustrated by Helen Yoon has a bit of mischief!

    1. My pleasure, Emily. I’m not familiar with Off-Limits and will have to check it out fir this mischief you mention. Thanks for sharing!

  51. I think this would be considered mischief – but in LITTLE RED by Bethany Woolvin, little red comes home wearing a suspiciously familiar fur coat. The shock is so hilarious I love it!

  52. One of my favorite humorous picture books is Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. I love it that just when you think the main character has it figured out (such as getting a ladder to rescue items from the tree) he does something totally unexpected (throws the ladder in the tree and it becomes stuck as well).

  53. Favorite lately is the kids thinking the sandwich is thei teacher in MR S which is an instant classic book

    1. Hey, Jacob. Mr. S is one of my new favorites, too. Monica and her team nailed it with that book. It was actually my 2023 pick for book of the year on Anitra Rowe Schulte’s blog.

  54. We don’t eat our Classmates is a family favorite! Thank you for an amazing blog post, Justin! So much insight to absorb as I look at my own work and think about how to revise!

    1. Hi, Christine. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the post. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a favorite of mine as well. Wishing you all the best with your revisions.

  55. Of the mounds of picture books I’ve read since January, my favorite funny book is HOW DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT: A SAFETY GUIDE by Ame Dyckman and Jennifer Harney. I thought it was laugh out loud hilarious. I’m sure kids see themselves engaging in some of that mischief. It’s definitely a cautionary tale! I write humor-these tips will be very helpful. In fact this post has given me an idea for a new PB-it contains mischief, misunderstandings and then mayhem! Thanks so much for sharing. Congratulations on your upcoming books! I am looking forward to giving them as gifts to my grands-they love hilarious PBs.

    1. Hi, Debbie. I appreciate the kind words and support and am really happy to hear this post has inspired you. I also agree that Ame Dyckman and Jenn Harney are a great author-illustrator pair with How Dinosaurs Went Extinct. Wishing you all the best with your new idea and manuscript.

  56. My favorite misunderstanding is from Squirrel in THE LEAF THIEF. He believes someone has stollen his leaf, but it was just the autumn weather. Oh dear…

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