Just For Fun

9 Hilarious Parodies of Classic Picture Books

by Iva-Marie Palmer

The essence of a good parody is familiarity. Just ask parody songwriter extraordinaire Weird Al Yankovich why he chooses only the top pop songs for his comical riffs. Beyond Billboard hits and blockbuster movies, another arena that’s ripe for spoofing is the children’s book realm. Whether you read them as a kid, or read them on repeat to kids, these beloved picture books and characters can rest assured they’ve reached pinnacle popularity: They wouldn’t have been parodied otherwise! Here are some of the funniest send-ups out there for kids and adults.

  • For Kids

  • If You Give a Mouse an iPhone: A Cautionary Tail

    by Ann Droyd

    While many picture book parodies are crafted purely for the adult set, this one is something of a comical cautionary tale for all ages. Spoofing Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and its many companion volumes), the mouse here gets ahold of an iPhone (someone’s attempt to squelch his cries of being bored; sound familiar, parents?) and beams off on a screen journey, only to miss the good stuff going on around him in the real world.

  • Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody

    by Michael Rex

    This spooky-silly parody of the perennial kids’ bookshelf favorite Goodnight Moon is expressly aimed at kids familiar with the source material. Pulling out many a monster trope, this one finds a baby werewolf struggling to go to sleep in a cold gray tomb with its own black lagoon. Great for young readers who’ve aged out of the original’s territory, this one is good-natured — but not too scary — fun that’s perfect for Halloween read-alouds.

  • Oh, the Meetings You’ll Go To!: A Parody

    by Dr. Suits

    If ever there were an occasion to say, “it’s funny because it’s true,” this might be one of the best. The spin on Dr. Seuss’s future-positive Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is perhaps all-too-familiar. While the message of Dr. Suits’s tale is entrenched in the reality of mind-numbing meetings and the like, it’s ultimately uplifting — and not a bad graduation gift for college students either.

  • For Grown-Ups

  • Goodnight Nanny-Cam: A Parody for Modern Parents

    by Lizzy Ratner and Jen Nessel, illustrated by Sara Pinto

    The text of this book first appeared on The New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs online humor column, so chances are you’ve seen a Facebook friend share it at some point in time. Another Goodnight Moon parody, Goodnight Nanny-Cam slyly skewers modern-day families’ specific accoutrements (for example: “Goodnight non-slip socks / And goodnight sustainable-wood blocks.”) This is a fantastic fun gift for new parents.

  • Are You My Boyfriend? A Picture Book for Grown-Up Children

    by C.B. Bryza, illustrated by Simon Greiner

    This spoof on the P.D. Eastman classic Are You My Mother? will rate a laugh (and probably many nods) from anyone frustrated by the dating scene. The heroine’s journey takes her through several options: Is her boyfriend the stoic tough guy, the wealthy cad who can’t keep his word, or the average guy (who seems to like her friend better)? It gets to a place that’s actually positive, so this one makes a fun and hopeful gift for someone going through a bad breakup.

  • The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Harvard: A New Way of Getting Children to Stop Sleeping and Start Achieving

    by Diana Holquist, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

    Sorry, parents: If anyone is just begging to be poked fun at, it’s (some of) us. This parody of the contemporary classic The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep takes on helicopter parenting, as well as those parents who start planning their child’s success trajectory right out of the womb. In this ridiculously LOL story, Ronald and Mommy Rabbit get help from Adderall Aardvark, Kollege Koach Kitty, and Admission Officer Owl, all of whom help put a stop to all the sleeping and playing that kid rabbits want to do in favor of a better activity: admission to the Ivy League.

  • Mr. Selfie: A Parody

    by Dan Zevin

    Thurber prize-winning humorist Zevin found a genius way to parody … all of us. Taking Roger Hargreaves’s famed Mr. Men and Little Miss books for a spin, Zevin has released several books in his Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me parody series. Each one takes to task (in a comical way!) some of our social media habits, from excessive selfie-taking to humblebragging to oversharing. If you see yourself mirrored in one of these pint-sized reads, just remember not to take it too personally.

  • Pat the Zombie: A Cruel (Adult) Spoof

    by Aaron Ximm, illustrated by Kaveh Soofi

    Fans of Pat the Bunny will recognize many of the original’s scenarios but in this undead and bloody version, everything is beyond macabre. Trusting toddlers Paul and Judy lead readers through this reimagined version: the touch-and-feel aspects of the original are still here, only now you can touch putrefied flesh and peek behind a ghostly shroud. Eew. This self-admittedly cruel spoof would definitely destroy a childhood, so keep it in the recommended adult hands! (On the other hand, fans of George Romero films and “The Walking Dead” would take to this nicely.)

  • The Very Hungover Caterpillar

    by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees, illustrated by Gillian Johnson

    Playing on Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the story of a caterpillar who feasts before emerging a butterfly, this spoof features a worse-for-the-wear man after a (too) big night out. Of course, he eats everything in sight (a black coffee, three slices of toast, a chicken tikka masala) in hopes of ending his woes. As a team, Lloyd and Rees have released other kids’ book parodies, including We’re Going on a Bar Hunt (a rewrite of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), about parents’ quest for post-baby adventures.