What’s In a Name?

October 18th, 2009 by

In Nancy’s last post, she talked about the funny nicknames in the book Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. It got me thinking about some of the funny actual names I’ve seen in children’s books over the years — and I don’t mean like in picture books, because we all know that those things are jam-packed full of silly names meant to entertain younger kids. But even in chapter books, you can still find lots of unusual character names.

Here’s a short list of some of my favorites — limiting myself just to human characters and steering clear of fantasy worlds, which we all know are always populated by funny-named folk:

  • Brenda Tuna and India Ink Teitelbaum, from Buffalo Brenda by Jill Pinkwater
  • India Opal Buloni, from Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
  • Quigley Quagmire, from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket — this series is actually bursting with strange (and often meaningful) names, like Esmé Squalor and Dewey Denouement
  • Nobody Owens, from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Stanley Yelnats, from Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Pippi Longstocking, from the Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren
  • Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee from Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game by Blue Balliett — in this case, even the author has a unique name!

So, those are just some of my favorites. But I’m sure I’ve missed a whole bunch. Leave a comment telling me YOUR favorite unusual character names!

— Karen

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