Friday, May 25, 2018

Guest post from Wendy McLeod MacKnight!

Today in Yay For Middle Grade Books!, I'm happy to present a guest post from Wendy McLeod MacKnight! She is the author of It's a Mystery, Pig Face!, and the upcoming The Frame-Up, which releases June 5th. Now here's the guest post!

Everything I Learned About Humor I Learned from a Middle Grade Book

Is there anything better than a book that makes us chuckle, or even better, experience a laugh-out-loud belly laugh?

And sure, picture books can be hysterical (one only has to read BJ Novak’s The Book with No Pictures to get that), but my money is on the middle grade novel, where authors take us on wild rides that leave us laughing so hard we’re crying.

One of the first middle grade novels I ever read was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. Every page was filled with witty and sarcastic asides, as well as slapstick comedy. As a reader, I felt very grownup to be in on Mr. Dahl’s secret that children’s books could be so funny.

“Whips!” cried Veruca Salt. “What on earth do you use whips for?” “For whipping cream, of course,” said Mr. Wonka. “How can you whip cream without whips? Whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all unless it’s been whipped with whips. Just as a poached egg isn’t a poached egg unless it’s been stolen from the woods in the dead of night! Row on, please!”
And then of course I discovered Pippi Longstocking, the world’s strongest girl and freest spirit!

“As the children were sitting there eating pears, a girl came walking along the road from town. When she saw the children she stopped and asked, ‘Have you seen my papa go by?’

‘M-m-m,’ said Pippi. ‘How did he look? Did he have blue eyes?’

‘Yes,’ said the girl.

‘Medium large, not too tall and not too short?’

‘Yes,’ said the girl.

‘Black hat and black shoes?’

‘Yes, exactly,’ said the girl eagerly.

‘No, that one we haven’t seen,’ said Pippi decidedly.

For a while — a very short while — I grew up and didn’t read many middle grade novels. But I missed them dreadfully, because humorous adult novels have a tendency to be too clever for their own good.

Enter Captain Underpants, who my son adored:

I adored Captain Underpants, too, for lines like the following…

“George and Harold were usually responsible kids. Whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible.”

From Captain Underpants, he moved on to a Series of Unfortunate Events, Holes, and everything by Kate DiCamillo.

It was a reminder to me of how important it is to not only watch funny movies and TV shows, but read funny books as well, and since then, I’ve never shirked my duty to look for funny middle grade novels.

Nowadays when I do school visits, I always make sure to talk to kids about funny books.

Not only did the funny books I read as a kid help sharpen my funny bone, they were often the perfect tonic for stressful times, life changes, and the confusion I often felt while growing up.

And I bring along copies of recent books (and sometimes I leave a few for their library!) that I think they will fall in love with, including these recent faves:

These books are guaranteed belly-laughers, and thanks to the wonderfully twisted minds of their authors, are helping create the next generation of smart, funny, kids!!
Just as “issues” books are critical for our kids, so are escapist romps.

Frankly, we could all use more laughs in our lives, and middle grade novels are the perfect place to start!

I haven't read all these books, I really need to try them! And thank you to Ms. MacKnight for participating in this event!

Author bio: Wendy McLeod MacKnight grew up in a small town with a library card as her most prized possession. She wrote her first novel at age nine. Her debut middle grade novel, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! was published by Sky Pony Press in 2017. Her second book, The Frame-Up, a fantasy that asks “What if every original piece of art is actually alive?” sold at auction to Greenwillow Books in a two-book deal and will be published June 5th, 2018.

Here are a few links:

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