All kids—from the most avid readers to those reluctant to pick up a book—love absurd, hilarious middle grade novels. It’s what made The Day My Butt Went Psycho so popular in my house. These six stories continue that trend of giggle-worthy premises in hilarious new books.
Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor: Recipe for Revenge, by Paul Tillery IV & Meg Wittwer
Do you ever see a cover and know immediately that a book is not only a piece of art, but one worthy of framing on your wall and treasuring forever? That was my reaction to the Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor books. Thundercluck is the chicken of the Norse god Thor, and like his keeper, he is bewitched with thunder and lightning—but in the sequel to Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor, Thundercluck and his friend Brunhilde have run a-fowl (pun intended) of the Asgardian gods. The plucky heroines are in greater danger than they realize, and they’ll have to work together if they want to avoid being cooked.
The Curse of the Werepenguin, by Allan Woodrow
Author Chris Grabenstein described The Curse of the Werepenguin as Young Frankenstein meets The Princess Bride, and frankly, it’s all I never knew I needed. Bolt Wattle wants to find his true family, and when a mysterious baron summons him, he thinks that maybe it’s his family come to claim him at last—but, instead, it’s a twelve-year-old terror of a tuxedo-wearing boy. When the boy bites Bolt and turns him half-boy, Bolt is certain things couldn’t get worse. Add in a whale cult, a difficult-to-reverse curse, and an army of mind-controlled penguins, and you’ve got an unputdownable and hilarious fantasy story.
Spy Penguins: The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream, by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki
You might notice that I really love absurd bird books. But, look, hear me out: they’re penguins. Who are spies. And they love ice cream! I don’t see how this series can go wrong. The second book of Sam Hay and Marek Jagucki’s series picks up where Jackson and Quigley last left off: precariously close to joining the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation) before Jackson’s mother caught onto their schemes. But when their FBI agent companions start acting strange and then disappear, Jackson and Quigley know they must act quickly—especially when their Uncle Bryn is locked away as a suspected thief!
Hardcover $13.49 | $14.99
Unicorn Rescue Society: The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande, by Adam Gidwitz and David Bowles and illustrated by Hatem Aly
The Unicorn Rescue Society series is, without a doubt, one of the best series for kids out right now. Each book follows the classroom team as they explore the world, rescuing magical creatures and learning more about each other along the way. The newest? Unicorn Rescue Society: The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande, which brings series author Adam Gidwitz together with Pura Belpré Honor-winning author David Bowles. When their teacher brings back Elliot and Uchenna a frightening report from the Texas-Mexico border, the kids fly off to Laredo only to find a spiny, bloodsucking, adorable little creature that needs their help.
How To Win The Science Fair When You’re Dead, by Paul North
When Mo O’Hara calls a book “unputdownable,” you know it’s bound to be a laugh-out-loud story. Popular New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth continues his illustrated middle grade series with Happy Conklin, who once accidentally sold his entire family to aliens and maybe kinda opened a black hole in the middle of his classroom. The trouble this time? Grandma. She’s trying to overthrow the Galactic Emperor… and she needs Hap’s help.
Project Z: Zombies are People Too by Tommy Greenwald
With Halloween approaching, we all need a good zombie story. The sequel to A Zombie Ate My Homework is just the thing. After all, why fight zombies when you can be friends with them? Arnold Z. Ombee agrees to teach other zombies what he’s learned about being a real human boy, even if he doesn’t quite believe that the scientists that created him changed their tune. But there’s something strange about these new zombies, and Arnold has to unearth it before it consumes him from the inside.