Into every child's life, a little silly, funny, nonsense must fall. Even if silly, funny nonsense isn't a "must," it certainly is a pleasant and important component.

In our family, silliness is an acknowledged family value. Laughing is good!

"Once Upon a Twice" by Denise Doyen is a delightfully silly picture book for children ages 4-7. Reminiscent of "Jabberwocky," this rollicking rhyme invents words that are perfect for reading aloud. The cautionary tale tells the story of a "riskarascal" young mouse who refuses to heed the "elder mouncelors whispercroon" to "beware the dangershine of Moon."

"The Tiger Who Came to Tea" by Judith Kerr is a classic picture book for children ages 3-6. Since the original publication in 1968, it's sold more than 2 million copies and caused countless adults and children to laugh out loud. A mother and daughter are having afternoon tea when the doorbell rings. The child opens the door to find a "big, furry, stripy, tiger." The tiger says, "Excuse me, but I'm very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?"

Did the child slam the door? No. Did the mother scream in fright? No. The child's mother said, "Of course, come in." The tiger eventually departs, having eaten and drunk every morsel and drop in the house. Does the child's dad rant and rave when he comes home to a house with no dinner? No. He calmly says, "I've got a very good idea. We'll put on our coats and go to a cafe." Children love this book. So do I.

"The Birthday Ball" is a new chapter book for children ages 8-12 by award-winning author Lois Lowry. Whimsical illustrations by Jules Feiffer add to the silly spoofiness of this story. Princess Patricia Priscilla is so bored with her luxurious life in the castle that she disguises herself as a peasant and attends the village school. Lowry includes joyful word play, characters who love to read, and imbues this fractured fairy tale with her belief that princesses and peasants are alike in all the important respects.

Loving to laugh. Loving to read. There's a direct correlation.

Contact Fran Hawk at franbooks@yahoo.com.