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I get together with a group of writers once a month to discuss various topics pertaining to children’s books and writing. Oftentimes, we use recent published children’s books as reference. Well, this month, we decided to discuss children’s books with surprise endings.
Tip: If you want to write children’s books, you must read recent children’s books!
I prepared for the meeting by finding multiple books that supposedly had surprise endings. Oddly, the first three or four books my daughters and I read together involved someone or something being eaten as the “surpise ending”.
Here are most of the books with surprise endings that I was able to check out from my library and read. Just a word of caution: You may want to read them ahead of time on your own before reading them to the little ones in your life because some of them were a little disturbing for a young child (in my opinion).
Children’s Books with Surprise Endings
Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen W. Martin
Charlotte finally gets a pet of her own…a pet rock. But is it really just a rock?
Egg Drop by Mini Grey
An egg couldn’t wait to fly. Unfortunately, it attempts to fly. As you know, eggs don’t really fly…or do they? (Spoiler alert: The egg doesn’t fly. It shatters just like its dream of flying, which I found quite depressing for a children’s book.)
I am a Tiger by Karl Newson
Mouse insists he is a tiger until he realizes he is something else. What could that something else be?
It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el
Children with great imaginations pretend to be a unicorn (who gets her horn stuck), Bigfoot (who gets his foot stuck), a robot (who has stuck hinges), the Loch Ness Monster, a fairy queen ballerina doctor, and a sneaky flying alligator pirate (who steals the magic wand). Who will save the day?
Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera
Polar Bear doesn’t know where his underwear has gone. He finds many other pairs of underwear, but they are all already being worn by his friends. Where will Polar Bear find his underwear?
Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen
Will the poor little guy successfully be eaten? The answer may surprise you!
Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis
A tadpole and caterpillar love each other, but tadpole keeps breaking his promise that he will never change as he slowly transforms into a frog. The caterpillar leaves upset and ends up changing into a butterfly. When she emerges as the butterfly, she decides to give her tadpole (whom she really loves) another chance. Neither she nor the tadpole (which is now a full grown frog) recognizes each other as the butterfly spots the frog. What do you think will happen when the hungry frog sees a butterfly he doesn’t realize is his lovely caterpillar?
Spoiler alert: Frog eats the love of his life without realizing it and spends the rest of his time wondering where his lovely caterpillar could be.
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Did a bear really eat your sandwich? And who is claiming that a bear really ate your sandwich to begin with? I thought this was a cute story.
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson
All the animals are afraid of “The Giant Jumperee” until one brave Mama Frog shows up. Who is the Giant Jumperee scaring all of the animals?
Toto’s Apple by Mathieu Lavoie
Toto is a worm determined to get the apple. Toto makes many unsuccessful attempts until he finally gets the apple he wants. Unfortunately, the apple isn’t the only thing to get eaten.
Don’t Wake up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup
Why don’t the animals want the tiger to wake up? What happens if the tiger does wake up?
Eat Pete by Michael Rex
A monster wants to eat a young child named Pete. After having a lot of fun playing with Pete, the Monster finally gives in and (spoiler alert) actually eats the child. But, the monster realizes he isn’t having as much fun on his own. Thankfully, he is able to spit the child back out.
Life on Mars by Jon Agee
A young boy is determined he will find life on Mars. He goes home thinking he is successful, but is he really?
Pardon Me by Daniel Miyares
A bird demands to be alone on what he thinks is a rock. But is it really a rock, and who will get eaten?
This Book Will Not be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap
A mouse is quite adamant that the book will not be fun. Is he right?
You Don’t Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman
And why don’t you want a unicorn? For starters, they wreak a lot of havoc.
Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen
Good Little Wolf proves he is really a good little wolf but that’s not enough to transform Big Bad Wolf into a good wolf. Big Bad Wolf claims he will stop eating people…tomorrow (after he has already eaten a person).
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
Is he really the biggest thing in the ocean? Or is there something even bigger in the ocean that will eat him?
I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Bear can’t find his hat but realizes he saw his hat on the head of rabbit. But how will he get his hat back? Spoiler alert: Bears eat rabbits (especially those who steal hats)!
The Baby that Roared by Simon Puttock
Mr. and Mrs. Deer really wanted a baby. One day they find a baby on their doorstep, but they don’t know what to do with the “peculiar” baby, so they invite Uncle Duncan (an owl), Auntie Agnes (a bunny), and Dr. Fox over to help with the new baby. Each of them mysteriously disappears, though, until Granny Bear shows up and burps the baby. Will Mr. and Mrs. Deer keep what they have discovered is a little monster?
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
Humpty Dumpty may have been physically put together by the king’s men, but he was emotionally scarred after “The Great Fall”. His new fear of heights kept him from enjoying his favorite things, and he is miserable until “an idea flew by”. Humpty Dumpty finally finds something that makes him happy again and decides to conquer his fear of heights. But what happens once he gets back to the top of the wall?
The Monster at the end of this Book by Jon Stone
And finally…the book at the end of this list. I had completely forgotten about this one (even though I own it) until someone at my writer’s meeting mentioned it. The Monster at the end of this Book is my favorite out of all of these books listed.
Grover pleads with the reader to not turn the pages of the book. He tries (unsuccessfully) to stop the reader from turning the pages because he is afraid of the monster at the end of the book. Who is the monster at the end of the book? That’s an answer that may even surprise Grover!
What makes a surpise ending in a children’s book a surprise ending? Do you have a favorite?
For more themed books, check out: