Looking for funny books with funny girls? Well, with the help of some folks on Twitter, my very helpful bookseller at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA, and Dr. Sarah Winslow, a children’s literature expert at Cal State LA University, I’m made you a list. It is by no means definitive. And it only includes books from the last ten years or so because…you already know about Ramona, and it’s time to see what else is out there. It turns out, there is a lot!
I’ve included Susie B. Won’t Back Down in there, of course. Because she is hysterical and I love her.
You can download the list to keep it handy, but you can also read it here. Oh, and there are links to Amazon so you can buy all the copies you want. But you could also find them in your local bookstore or in your library–or you could encourage your library to get a copy. Just read them for goodness sakes! Don’t you deserve a laugh?
Funny Girls, Funny Books
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.
Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.
The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. (series) by Jen Carney
Enter the hilarious world of Billie Upton Green . . . The start of an exciting new series full of Billie’s laugh-out-loud observations and doodles!
There is a new girl at Billie’s school, and Billie takes it upon herself to show her around, teach her the Biscuit Laws, and remind her that yes, two women can get married (after all, Billie’s mums’ wedding is the event of the year).
But then suspicion sets in.
The new girl seems very close to Billie’s best friend Layla. And doesn’t she know a little too much about the latest big school heist – the theft of Mrs Robinson’s purse…?
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even puka shell necklaces, pool parties, and flying fish can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.
Susie B. Won’t Back Down by Margaret Finnegan
Roll with It meets Absolutely Normal Chaos in this funny, big-hearted novel about a young girl’s campaign for student council president, told through letters to her hero Susan B. Anthony.
Susie B. has a lot to say. Like how it’s not fair that she has to be called Susie B. instead of plain Susie. Or about how polar bears are endangered. Or how the Usual Geniuses are always getting picked for cool stuff over the kids like her with butterflies in their brain. And it’s because Susie B. has a lot to say about these very important things that she’s running for student council president!
If she’s president, she can advocate for the underdogs just like her hero and fellow Susie B., Susan B. Anthony. (And, okay, maybe the chance to give big speeches to the whole school with a microphone is another perk.) But when the most usual of Usual Geniuses also enters the student council race, Susie realizes this may be a harder won fight than she thought. Even worse, Susie discovers that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t as great as history makes it seem, and she did some pretty terrible things to try to help her own cause. Soon, Susie has her own tough decisions to make. But one thing is for sure—no matter what, Susie B. won’t back down.
Girl, Underground by Morris Gleitzman
A story of friendship, courage and a bit of crime. Bridget wants a quiet life, including, if possible, keeping her parents out of prison. Then a boy called Menzies makes her an offer she can’t refuse, and they set off on a job of their own. It’s a desperate, daring plan, to rescue two kids, Jamal and Bibi, from a desert detention centre. Can Bridget and Menzies pull off their very first jail break, or will they end up behind bars too? Sometimes to help a friend, you have to dig deep.
Olga and Smelly Thing from Nowhere (Series) by Elise Gravel
Meet Olga, the amazing child scientist who LOVES animals (because they are super-cute)! Brightly put this heavily illustrated don’t-miss book on their “Ultimate Summer Reading List for 9- to 12-Year-Olds.”
Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere is jam-packed with fun: vibrant illustrations, word bubbles, quirky humor, olgamus facts, and plenty of excitement for readers who love making discoveries and meeting new friends. Olga is a charming combination of independent, curious, and smart—making her the coolest girl scientist around—perfect for fans of Dork Diaries and Captain Underpants.
When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus ridiculus, she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing. The scientific method is the best way to discover anything!
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera
Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues.
She’s also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy…like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much…like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Whoseasons.
Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she’s not gonna let that slide.
Not since Millicent Min, Girl Genius has a debut novel introduced a character so memorably, with such humor and emotional insight. Even square dancing fans will agree….
Believe in the possible . . . with this New York Times bestseller by three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm. A perfect read about a child’s relationship with her grandfather! Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this gawky teenager really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility. Look for EXCLUSIVE NEW MATERIAL in the paperback—including Ellie’s gallery of scientists and other STEM-appropriate features.
One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.
On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.
Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura – and Yumi doesn’t correct them.
As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Inside Out and Back Again is a #1 New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award!
Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.
This moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkuswhich proclaimed it “enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny.”
An author’s note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà’s story. This paperback edition also includes an interview with the author, an activity you can do with your family, tips on writing poetry, and discussion questions.
Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz
Bernice Buttman is tough, crass, and hilarious, and she just might teach you a thing or two about empathy in this novel for fans of The Great Gilly Hopkins.
When you’re a Buttman, the label “bully” comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there’s one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it’s a true friend.
After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is also a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it’s hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve. . . .
Get ready to laugh out loud–and maybe even shed a tear–with this fantastic new middle-grade voice!
The League of Picky Eaters by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic
In Muffuletta, being good at eating is the key to success. French fries and grilled cheese? Beginner food! Haggis and truffles? Delicacies!
After failing a school eating test, picky eater Minerva is placed in the lowest eating track of all: Remedial Eating to Change Habits. RETCH class is full of kids with weird personalities and even weirder food preferences. And to make matters worse, Minerva’s best friends, in the Gifted and Gourmet class, no longer speak to her.
But soon Minerva finds she is not alone in her pickiness, and forms friendships with her new classmates. And together, they find a way to stand up for themselves – picky and proud!
Meena Meets Her Match (The Meena Zee Books) by Karla Manternach
“For Junie B. graduates” (Kirkus Reviews). Join Meena as she navigates the triumphs and challenges of family, friendship, and personal secrets in this charming middle grade debut.
Meena’s life is full of color. She wears vibrant clothes, eats every shade of the rainbow, and plucks eye-catching trash from the neighborhood recycling bins.
But when Meena’s best friend, Sofía, stops playing with her at recess and she experiences an unexpected and scary incident at breakfast, nothing can fight off the gray.
That’s when Meena comes up with a plan to create the BEST and most COLORFUL Valentine’s Day Box in the class. With the help of her cousin, Eli, and her stuffed zebra, Raymond, Meena discovers that the best way to break through the blah is to let her true colors shine.
The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jacyln Moriarty
Esther is a middle child, in her own mind a pale reflection of siblings who are bright, shining stars. Her mother doesn’t show the slightest bit of interest, no matter what Esther does. Still, she’s content to go back to school, do her best, hang out with her friends, and let others take care of things.
But her best friends aren’t AT school when she gets there. Why didn’t they tell her they wouldn’t be coming back? Why were they silent all summer? But stuff like that happens. And it’s bad luck that her new teacher makes Esther the butt of all kinds of jokes. Mrs. Pollock is rumored to be an ogre—and maybe she IS one. Could be.
Then things go from unfortunate to outright dangerous. The mountains surrounding the school—usually sparkling with glaciers and lakes, alive with Faeries, and sheltering a quaint town with really great bakeries—are now crowded with Shadow Mages, casting a noticeable pall, and clearly—to Esther—signifying something very dark and threatening. As the people she might have depended on to help are either strangely absent or in hiding, it’s left to ordinary, middle-child Esther (“just Esther”) to act. But she’ll have to burst out of the box of mediocrity she’s been but in, and do something absolutely extraordinary.
Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey
This bestselling first book in the Tapper Twins series is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world, told as a colorful “oral history” with photos, screenshots, text messages, chat logs, and online gaming digital art.
Twelve-year-old twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war. But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly declared “This uproarious series opener… is packed with both laugh-out-loud moments and heart.”
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Series) by Rachel Renee Russell
As a part of her father’s bug-extermination contract, 14-year-old Nikki J. Maxwell has been awarded a scholarship to a prestigious private middle school. So…new school. New mean girl. New crush. New diary, so Nikki can spill about all of it….
The Nerviest Girl in the World by Melissa Wiley
A feisty girl from a family of ranchers lands a job as a daredevil stunt girl in the early days of silent film in this adventurous and funny cross between Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and Ramona.
Pearl lives on a ranch where her chores include collecting eggs and feeding ornery ostriches. She has three older brothers, who don’t coddle her at all. And she knows a thing or two about horses, too.
One day, Pearl’s brothers get cushy jobs doing stunts for this new form of entertainment called “moving pictures.” They’re the Daredevil Donnelly Brothers, a Death-Defying Cowboy Trio. Before she knows it, Pearl has stumbled into being a stunt girl herself–and dreams of becoming a star. The only problem is, her mother has no idea what she’s up to. And let’s just say she wouldn’t be too happy to find out that Pearl’s been jumping out of burning buildings in her spare time.
Filled with action, humor, and heart–not to mention those pesky ostriches–The Nerviest Girl in the World introduces a spunky heroine whose adventures will have kids on the edge of their seats and whose sense of humor will have them laughing until the very last line.