Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 22, 2019

Middle Grade Novels Versus Chapter Book Humor with Hillary Homzie

Middle Grade Novels Versus Chapter Book Humor with Hillary Homzie

Hi there,

I’m so happy to share a bit about Chapter Books and Middle Grade Novels with you with this exclusive tell-all from Award-Winning Author Hillary Homzie, one of the FABULOUS co-teachers in the Children’s Book Academy’s Middle Grade Mastery course, along with the amazingly talented Rachel Stein, Acquiring Editor at Sterling Books for Children, and Editor/Art Director, Dr. Mira Reisberg.

And, without further ado…

The Differences and Similarities Between Chapter Book and middle grade novel Humor

with Hillary Homzie

“I’m known for writing middle grade and chapter books that make kids laugh. It’s my fate since my name, Hillary, comes from the Latin, Hilaria, which means—you guessed it—hilarity and mirth.

Actually, I was a very serious child, and I learned humor as a defense mechanism. Since I was shy, I was just funny in my head, but never in real life. I’m telling you this, so you can relax. Because you don’t need to be a stand-up comic in order to write funny or serious books with a dash of levity. So now that you’re nice and relaxed and the pressure is off, let’s look at some of the similarities and differences between funny middle grade and chapter books.

To do this, let’s first look at the basics.

Let’s first define the categories. When you are writing chapter books, your readers are typically going to be ages five through nine. When you are writing middle grade, your readers will generally be seven through twelve. This means that developmentally there are definitely differences.

Primary school aged children are just beginning to solidly understand language norms, so that’s why it’s great if you can include puns and word play. Children are amused by these jokes because they have only just mastered the meaning of language themselves. They laugh, in essence, at their younger selves. For example, in my chapter book, Two Heads Are Better Than One, Beta (the clone) and Barton (the human) often switch places. The clone then constantly misunderstands language.”

Deciding which age group you want to write for will help you decide the sort of content and subject matter that you will write for. The Middle Grade Mastery co-teachers walk you through all of these steps within the course.

“Primary school aged children giggle and feel a sense of accomplishment at understanding words that have double meanings. This why they also really appreciate jokes such as:

How do you act like a squirrel? Climb up a tree and act like a nut.

Kids love knowing the double meaning of nut. And they also understand that it’s against a social norm to climb a tree and act crazy. Defying conventions is funny. Chapter book readers also relish their newly acquired academic knowledge. For example, this joke works well for primary school-aged students:

What did zero say to eight?

Nice belt.

In general, these sorts of jokes will not work as well for upper elementary Middle Grade level students because they’ve long since understood the difference between zero and eight. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use this sort of humor in middle grade. But reserve these sorts of jokes for your protagonist’s little brother or sisters to tell at the dinner table.”

If you need help nailing down your target reader and what works for them, while learning just about everything you need to know to successfully write, sell, and publish a middle grade novel (or chapter book if you register before April 24th) join us in Middle Grade Mastery starting May 13th and running for 4 glorious interactive weeks with two bonus work-at-your-own-pace weeks! To learn more about the course, visit: and to learn more about our amazing co-teachers, visit:, and

Hope that that little sip of lesson filled your cup and inspired you to check out Rachael’s, Mira’s and my Middle Grade Mastery course at

PS If you sign up before April 24th you’ll receive both courses for the price of one PLUS a $100.00 Early Bird discount with the Special Code MGMAGIC

Hillary Homzie is the award-winning author of MANY children’s books, some of which have been made into animated series and optioned for movies. She is faculty at Hollins University, Summer MFA Children’s Literature & Writing; Sonoma State University, Communications & Internships; and the Children’s Book Academy.

Talk tomorrow,


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