The best picture books with fiercely funny friendships

Who am I?

Three of my favorite things are reading, writing, and laughing. So, of course, my favorite books are usually the ones that make me giggle. I also have a slightly dark sense of humor which means I have a soft spot for books where one of the characters may get eaten. But I think the very best books are ones where unexpected friendships occur instead. So often our perceptions about others are wrong, and if we just take the time to get to know the animal (or person) behind those extra sharp teeth, we may find we have more in common than we realized. 


I wrote...

My School Stinks!

By Becky Scharnhorst, Julia Patton (illustrator),

Book cover of My School Stinks!

What is my book about?

Dear Diary, Today is the first day at my new school and I think there’s been a mistake. My deskmate stinks, my locker buddy bites, and my teacher is unbearable! I told Mom my classmates are WILD ANIMALS, but she said all little kids are wild animals. I think I’m going to be sick tomorrow.

This hilarious back-to-school story is about a young boy who accidentally ends up at a school for real animals. When Stuart first arrives at Wildwood Elementary, not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm his nervous jitters. Stuart does his best to avoid his wild classmates, but soon learns friends come in all shapes, sizes, and species. 

The books I picked & why

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Caring for Your Lion

By Tammi Sauer, Troy Cummings (illustrator),

Book cover of Caring for Your Lion

Why this book?

I knew I’d love this book as soon as I read the first few lines. “Congratulations on your new lion! We know you ordered a kitten, but we ran out of those.” This hilarious how-to book provides the main character with all the instructions they need to care for their purrrrfect pet. The straightforward text pairs perfectly with the comical illustrations to show the chaotic reality of caring for an oversized feline friend. As someone whose own pets have brought both enormous destruction and enormous love, I found myself rooting for this fierce friendship. There are also tons of hilarious details in the illustrations. The pizza flavors alone will leave kids laughing and begging for more. This picture book is a roaring good time! 


Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover)

By Helen Yoon,

Book cover of Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover)

Why this book?

This story begins with a familiar premise – a wolf disguises himself in sheep’s clothing in order to get close to his woolly neighbors, and hopefully, eventually, maybe eat them. What makes this story so funny is the sheep know all along their new friend is a wolf, but they fully accept him into their community anyway. This simple act of friendship makes all the difference. I love books that make me laugh and share powerful truths about the world. This story does exactly that. You will giggle your way through this stilly book, and you’ll leave with the understanding that sometimes love and friendship are all you need to change a heart and a life. Added bonus: the ending is perfect!


The Great Puppy Invasion

By Alastair Heim, Kim Smith (illustrator),

Book cover of The Great Puppy Invasion

Why this book?

When a hoard of puppies invades the city of Strictville, the town folk are terrified! Soon meetings are called, and attempts are made to rid the town of their colossal cuteness. The concept alone is enough to make me laugh, but the execution is brilliant! I love the horrified exclamations from the fleeing townpeople as they are chased by the adorable terrors. The voice is hilarious, and the puppies are so stinkin’ cute! I could not resist their giant puppy dog eyes, and I’m quite certain you will be equally mesmerized. Dog lovers will fall head over tails for this humorous and heartwarming story.


Chez Bob

By Bob Shea,

Book cover of Chez Bob

Why this book?

A book about a lazy alligator who opens a restaurant on his nose so he doesn’t have to chase birds before eating them? Yes, please! I’ve always been a huge fan of Bob Shea’s work, but this book is next-level awesome. The voice is impeccable! It’s impossible to read this book without slipping into your best lazy alligator voice. The masterfully chosen words will draw it right out of you. I didn’t even know I had a lazy alligator voice until I read this book. My husband is not nearly as enamored with children’s books as I am, but even he loved Chez Bob and laughed a total of 11 times. There is no doubt this book is fiercely funny, but it is also utterly charming. Seeing Bob’s affection grow for his feathered friends is what makes him an endearing and enduring character. 


My Best Friend

By Rob Hodgson,

Book cover of My Best Friend

Why this book?

Some of my favorite books are ones where the text is saying one thing and the pictures are saying something completely different. I also adore books where the reader is in on a secret from the very beginning. My Best Friend does both. It’s told from the perspective of a mouse who is describing their “best friend” Giant Owl. The reader knows Giant Owl is planning to eat Mouse, but Mouse is blissfully ignorant. You can’t help but laugh as Mouse recounts their playful games of hide-and-seek, and then praises Giant Owl’s generosity in giving him as many donuts as he wants. The ending is surprisingly sweet, but it leaves open the possibility of a darker future. By asking kids what they think will happen next, you prolong the fun and spark their creativity. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in friendships, best friends, and lions?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about friendships, best friends, and lions.

Friendships Explore 322 books about friendships
Best Friends Explore 47 books about best friends
Lions Explore 12 books about lions

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Katie the Catsitter, A Little Bit Brave, and Good Dog if you like this list.