As someone with four kids between 1 and 8, it’s really, really hard to find a bedtime chapter book that pleases everyone. There really aren’t that many books out there that are simple enough to be understood by all, but complex and interesting enough so that when Dave reads it he doesn’t start sighing meaningfully in my direction. There should probably be pictures. There shouldn’t be a love interest. Funny books are a plus, but adventure works too.
Dick King-Smith has fit this pretty well for us, but honestly, I don’t love all his books. Beverly Cleary works, of course. (I’m just coming up with some other books, right now, in case others are also in this predicament.) We recently read and LOVED Invisible Inkling. It’s perfect for our bedtime reading problem: exciting, funny, unpredictable, and with great illustrations (Harry Bliss!).
Hank (who refers to himself by his last name, Wolowitz — so you already know it’s funny) finds an invisible animal called a bandapat. The bandapat, Inkling, comes along just as Wolowitz is missing his best friend who moved away, and also as Wolowitz is dealing with an awful bully. Inkling helps him because Wolowitz saved him from a marauding French bulldog named Rootbeer. In the world of bandapats, Inkling must stick around to repay the debt, the Hetsnickle. This should all be enough for you. Wolowitz + Rootbeer + bandapat + Hetsnickle = Fun! Really. It could have no plot at all and I’d be tempted to read a book that revolved around those four words.
The other great thing about Invisible Inkling is the treatment of the bully situation. The grownups in Wolowitz’s life keep trying to tell him that he should empathize with his bully, he should be peaceful toward his bully, he should understand his bully’s problems, he should be friends with his bully. Inkling tells him to bite the bully on the ankle. Guess who’s right? Inkling. Sometimes you’ve just got to bite your bully on the ankle.