Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roald Dahl: "The Best Children's Books are Funny"

"Humor, Roald Dahl said, is key to children's writing - "It's got to be funny!". That's the idea behind the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, now in its fourth year. This year it went to books about pirate cats and a doodling schoolboy.

children laughingPlease view the You Tube video of the 2011 Funny Book Prize books at the bottom of the post.

Humor is bigger in children's publishing than ever. Comedy often comes from danger, but these books spin it out of safety and familiarity. In other words, kids want to be scared--as long as they know they are safe.

Read Roald Dahl's own words when asked, "What is the secret to keeping your readers entertained?"

 My lucky thing is I laugh at exactly the same jokes that children laugh at and that’s one reason I’m able to do it. I don’t sit out here roaring with laughter but you have wonderful inside jokes all the time and it’s got to be exciting, it’s got to be fast, it’s got to have a good plot but it’s got to be funny. It’s got to be funny. And each book I do is a different level of that.

Oh, The Witches is quite different from The BFG or James and Danny. The fine line between roaring with laughter and crying because it’s a disaster is a very, very fine link. You see a chap slip on a banana skin in the street and you roar with laughter when he falls slap on his backside. If in doing so you suddenly see he’s broken a leg, you very quickly stop laughing and it’s not a joke anymore. I don’t know, there’s a fine line and you just have to try and find it.

Which comedy classics do you remember from childhood, and are they still funny today?

1 comment:

  1. MY favorite funny book (from my teaching days) is PIGGIE PIE. Love the tomfoolery! Thanks for the link, I have a whole 'nother list to read.