This month at the Lamp-Post, we talk about the role of humor in children’s literature with the always funny Betsy Bird.
Betsy is a Renaissance woman in the world of children’s literature – a librarian, author, blogger, and podcast host, and we are quite sure she has read almost everything published for children…ever. She edited Funny Girl, the 2018 collection of hilarious stories and comics by women writers. And her first very funny novel came out in 2021, Long Road to the Circus, illustrated by David Small.
During this wide-ranging conversation, we look at humor from many different perspectives.
- On using humor as a superpower – “Own the humor. Use it…almost like a protective shield in some ways. Like, ‘You can’t laugh at me, dude. It was a joke on purpose.’” (7:33-8:07)
- On humor’s role in helping kids with big topics – “An author has an ability to reach in and just grab your heart and squeeze it. If they are using humor, then they’re loosening that grip a little bit and they are letting you feel that it’s serious but that you are in safe hands.” (48:30-49:40)
- On the role of weird – “I think that weird doesn’t get enough respect in these cases. I like books that take big swings. They just try something weird. I think it makes them more memorable.” (1:02 – 1:03)
Betsy makes some recommendations for funny books that she loves. For graphic novels, she recommends
- DogMan series by Dav Pilkey
- Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale
- Amelia Rules series by Jimmy Gownley
- Breaking Cat News series by Georgia Dunn
- Hilo series by Judd Winick
- Max and the Midknights series by Lincoln Peirce
For middle grade novels, she recommends
- It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by Justin A. Reynolds
- Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
- Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
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