The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, by George Saunders and illustrated by Lane Smith.
Take a smattering of Dr Seuss, a pinch of Lemony Snickett and a smidge of a moral and you get a funny, yet melancholy, yet hopeful fairy tale of selfish neighbors and Capable children that will appeal to adults and children (but probably not to goats).
The small town of Frip (population 10) has the misfortune of being invaded by gappers, a burr like creature that is the size of a baseball, orange, and has lots of eyes like a potato. Gappers love goats so much that as many as 1500 gappers will crawl from the sea to cover the town's goats and emit a high pitched happy shriek of joyous pleasure, which in turn keeps the goats from sleeping and eating, which means they won't produce milk, which is a very bad thing for a town that relies on selling goats milk. So, the children of the town, all 5 of them, must go out several times a day to brush the gappers from the goats and throw them into the ocean. One day, one slightly less stupid gapper convinces the others that they could focus all of their devoted attention on the goats that dwell in the yard of the house closest to the sea, which belongs to 10-year old Capable, who is very tired from brushing gappers off the goats 8 times a day. The neighbors, whose goats are suddenly without gappers, assume it is because they are in some way superior to Capable's family.
"Not that we're saying we're better than you, necessarily, its just that since gappers are bad, and since you and you alone have them, it only stands to reason that you are not, perhaps, quite as good as us. Not that we hate you! We don't. We even sort of like you."
Without the neighbors help, and because her father is still in despair from the loss of his wife that year, it is up to Capable to save the family business, which she does by selling the goats, which, in turn, changes the fortune of her snooty, selfish neighbors and their goats.
If you get this for the kids, you must, I say must!, read this one aloud. It is loaded with delightfully long run-on sentences, which are a lot of fun to recite and each character is superbly crafted with his or her own voice, which you will enjoy creating for your kids.
To help you find it, the book is likely to be shelved in adult fiction and not the kids section. I was confused by the categorization at first, but now, I understand. It would be a very unfortunate thing for grown-ups to miss out on reading it just because it's classified as a kids book.
When you're done reading The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, it will be just in time for the release of Zorgamazoo, by Robert Weston. Zorgamazoo, is the incredible tale of
Katrina Katrell, a girl full of courage (and daring, as well!), who down in the subway, under the ground, saw something fantastical roaming around . . .
The entire story is written in rhyme that is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy as well.