The best funny fables about mischief-makers

Gibson Frazier Author Of Stop and Smell the Cookies
By Gibson Frazier

Who am I?

As the father of a (currently) 11-year-old boy, and having been a boy once myself, I understand that mischief-makers can be a pain in the neck and drive adults crazy. But today’s little mischief-makers are tomorrow’s independent thinkers. And we cannot expect children to channel their rambunctious energies into positive outcomes without first giving them the tools to do so. That’s why I wrote Stop and Smell the Cookies, so that readers can actually take control before their emotions get the better of them. It’s also why I compiled this list. Perhaps, if the main characters in these stories had stopped and smelled the cookies, some of them might have avoided their literary fates. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Stop and Smell the Cookies

By Gibson Frazier, Micah Player (illustrator),

Book cover of Stop and Smell the Cookies

What is my book about?

A picture book about a rambunctious boy who learns to manage his big feelings.

Sometimes Dash gets so excited that his chest feels warm and fuzzy, his toes dance, and his fingertips tickle the air. When that starts, he can’t seem to control what he does next, and often, trouble follows. Luckily, with a little help, Dash finds a way to slow himself down when big feelings threaten to take over. This joyous book engages the imagination and relaxes the mind, perfect for those who are impulsive like Dash, those who hold in their feelings, and everyone in between.

The books I picked & why

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Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue

By Maurice Sendak,

Book cover of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue

Why this book?

All of Maurice Sendak’s protagonists can be accused of making mischief, and feeling the pain afterward. How can you not sympathize with Max in Where the Wild Things Are or admire the sass of Really Rosie? But Pierre takes the cake for his obstinate indifference to the world. A cautionary tale for any child who just doesn’t care.

(Fun fact: One of my oldest friends in the world, Michael Perilstein, played the Lion in the off-Broadway production of Really Rosie in which Maurice Sendak’s Pierre was set to music by the great singer/songwriter Carole King.)


By Ian Falconer,

Book cover of Olivia

Why this book?

Olivia has style and flair, just like all the great pigs. (Porky, Peppa, Piglet, Wilbur, and Babe, to name a few.) Whether inspired by the music of Maria Callas, the paintings of Degas or Pollack, or even just the sand at the beach, Olivia’s mischievous creativity manifests itself in art of her own, singular making. Her parents love her anyway. Fortunately, she loves her parents anyway too. 

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

By Esphyr Slobodkina,

Book cover of Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Why this book?

This book has my favorite mischief-makers: monkeys! But what I love about these little imps is that, like all great antagonists, their actions are not out of malice; they are just being themselves. This book is also a great lesson to humans, teaching us that, in times of great frustration, sometimes to overcome our obstacles, we just need to take a different approach. It’s no wonder Ms. Slobodkina’s book has been a classic for over 80 years.

Good Night, Gorilla

By Peggy Rathmann,

Book cover of Good Night, Gorilla

Why this book?

Since primates make the best mischief-makers, it was inevitable that this book would end up on the list. As with Olivia, these animals, led by their fearless friend Gorilla, are driven by their curiosity. Just what is it like to sleep in a house? Their downfall comes because they are too polite and wish Mrs. Zookeeper a good night. I love that she’s so patient with them that she walks them all back to their enclosures, even holding Gorilla’s hand. 

I Want My Hat Back

By Jon Klassen,

Book cover of I Want My Hat Back

Why this book?

Since many mischief-makers in literature (and the majority of this list) are animals, why not offer one more? I love, again, how all of the characters in this story are so polite. This book makes it into my top five because every time I read it, I find myself smiling the whole time and then completely shocked by the ending. As a kid, I pushed the boundaries whenever I could. Some would say I still do. But I remember one grownup, who busted me for some benevolent prank I tried to pull, told me, “Sometimes you bite the bear. Sometimes the bear bites you.” I guess there are consequences to not telling the truth.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fables, bears, and monkey?

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