Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 30, 2020

How to Write Funny by Mira Reisberg

Are you already funny or have always wanted to write funny, over here at the Children’s Book Academy, we truly believe the expression that laughter is the best medicine and know from research that the #1 thing guaranteed to get and keep kids reading is humor!!! And that’s why we created our awesome Picture Book Palooza Panel: How to Write Funny for Kids is focused on being funny, using jokes or wordplay, and infusing humor Into serious plots. It’s jam-packed with tips and tricks for weaving in just the right amount of laughter into your children’s books.

Humor in picture books can run the gamut from over-the-top wackiness, wordplay, malapropisms, outrageousness, irony, misunderstandings, potty humor, and much more. Humor can be part of the characters, the setting, the plot, or anything else in your story. Sometimes, especially for younger readers, the illustrations convey much of the humor, but other times and in older readers the words need to be the funny bits.

Who doesn’t like to hear a kid laugh? A daily dose of laughter from reading funny books is good for the soul and we can use this interest in silly books to help kids fall in love with books and reading. Something like the potty humor in Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey or the snark of Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney has the potential to hook kids into waiting to read the whole series. If kids are laughing, enjoying the book and all the silly happenings and characters, chances are they’re going to want to finish the book and read another in the series.

Humor can also help children deal with tough situations. It helps break the tension and creates dialogue to tackle the problem. Laughter is also a bonding activity and can emerge from funny books where characters grapple with the same tough topics the reader is facing. Those life events and curveballs might include divorce, death, or peer issues.

Shannon Stocker  http://www.shannonstocker.com/ is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who loves all letters equally. She lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, KY, where she molds the alphabet into picture books and songs all day. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes, mantras, and adorable animal pics @iwriteforkidz.

In Shannon’s punny book Can U Save the Day?, the letters of the alphabet are at odds with one another.  B and the rest of the consonants on this alphabet farm bully the vowels about their meager numbers, and soon the vowels leave the alphabet. As they do, the consonants begin to realize just how important vowels really are. How will the birds tweet without E? Or the cow moo without O? But when real disaster starts closing in and words of warning stall, can U save the day and set the warring alphabet right again? Shannon will be teaching attendees about: Words, Sounds, and Combinations That Make Kids Laugh

Jen Buchet  https://buchetbooks.wixsite.com/mysite spent 15 years in the advertising field but doesn’t really enjoy marketing herself. Here are 5 Fun Facts about her, in no particular order: ​1) she loves talking to people & connecting, just not over the phone; 2) Jigs, reels & hornpipes–all the way!; 3) An ancient castle was once her playground; 4) Painting is right up there with ironing for her, unless it’s painting with kiddos; 5) she loves trying out new flavors & cuisines, but she’s not a fan of jellyfish or bleu cheese. And of course, she LOVES writing!

In Jen’s new book, Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma, the main character comes from a long line of snake-loving, serpentine-wearing Gorgons. When she receives her very first snake, Little Medusa discovers that having a snake slither and slide through her hair isn’t so great after all. And to make matters more difficult, she begins questioning if she really wants to scare her friends into stone with her new forever friend. Using her imagination and heart, Little Medusa tries her best to please her family, her best-pet snake, and herself. Jen will be inspiring you with her talk on Mythology through humor

As soon as Maggie Lauren Brown https://www.maggielaurenbrown.com/ could talk, she began telling stories. She “wrote” her first story at age 2, dictating it to her mom, complete with a (pretty exciting!) plot line. These days, she aims to spark little imaginations with a sense of wonder and delight through picture books and middle grade novels. After studying Creative Writing and Political Science at The University of Minnesota, she logically chose beluga whales as coworkers and became a professional synchronized swimmer. She performed for 10 years in cirque shows—Le Reve at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas and Azul at SeaWorld in San Antonio—and worked as a mermaid-for-hire. From there, she began teaching high school English and elementary Language Arts, and she credits her students for teaching her exactly what makes kids fall in love with books. Her current starring role of “Mama” is perhaps the most important of all. You can find her telling stories to her son, husband, and hairless cat in The Woodlands, Texas.

Maggie got the idea for Joy the Pandacorn after a stranger stopped her and her son in the street, saying, “Oh my goodness, he’s so cute! What is he?” She wishes this was a question he would never hear again, but because others view him as “racially ambiguous,” he likely will. So Maggie wanted to write a story to show kiddos that no matter how they look or act, they are perfect and can fit in just the way they are. To share this message in a fun and light-hearted way, she created the joyful characters of Joy the Pandacorn (panda-unicorn hybrid) and Urkel the Penguitten (penguin-kitten hybrid). Writing funny personal stories as metaphors

Lynne Marie http://www.literallylynnemarie.com/ is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy, Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey , The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey, Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo  and her first non-fiction picture book, Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — illustrated by Parwinder Singh and more forthcoming.

When she’s not cruising around the world, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds.

 

Forget Goldilocks and the three bears–Lynne’s Moldilocks and the Three Scares is a fun new version of the fairy tale we all know so well. Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a haunted house where they eat finger sandwiches and alpha-bat soup. One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound, of course) to let their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, a chair, and a bed that’s just right. Kids will love this hauntingly funny story with its surprise ending. Lynne’s topic is: Be Funny No Matter What You Write

We also have an awesome Moderator Sue Ganz-Schmitt https://www.sueganzschmitt.com/ who will be speaking about Finding Humor in Everything!  Sue is a children’s book author, musical theater producer, SCBWI member, and a philanthropist. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults. Sue has performed in Rent on Broadway, run a marathon, and pursues other improbable and exciting challenges—as often as she can.

Her books include That Monster on the Block, and Planet Kindergarten among others. Sue has served as a NASA Social Media correspondent, as a volunteer for The Planetary Society, and as a space advocate representing the Space Exploration Alliance to Congress. She has also written and produced a STEAM video featured by The Planetary Society (The Galaxy Girls Save Pluto). You can often find Sue at her home in the Los Angeles mountains with her eyes to the stars.

And this panel also has a couple of Breakout Party Room Hosts, Jorge and Megan Lacera http://www.studiolacera.com Artist Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia, and grew up in Miami, Florida drawing in sketchbooks, on napkins, on walls, and anywhere his parents would let him. After graduating with honors from Ringling College of Art and Design, Jorge worked as a visual development and concept artist for major gaming studios and entertainment companies. As a big fan of pop culture, comics, and zombie movies, Jorge rarely saw Latinx kids as the heroes or leads. He is committed to changing that, especially now that he has a son. Writer ​Megan Lacera grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with a book always in her hands.

She became a writer and creator of characters and worlds for entertainment companies like American Greetings, Hasbro, and Goldieblox and later formed her own creative company where she creates original content and consults on marketing, social media, and strategic direction for start-ups and large corporations. After reading many stories to their son, Megan realized that very few books reflected a family like theirs–multicultural, bilingual, funny, and imperfect. She decided to change that by writing her own stories. This is why they co-created the hilarious Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies to much critical acclaim. Together, with a guest appearance from their son Kai, they’ll be hosting the breakout Party room and presenting on Humor and Diversity in KidLit.           

All these funny creatives will be on hand to share their insights into humor at the 2020 Picture Book Palooza https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html on December 5th & 6th. Come for the laughs and stay for our other incredible six panels.  The modest $20 cost of this kidlit educational extravaganza will go directly to CBA’s scholarship fund, aimed to increase access, equity, and diversity in the world of children’s books writers and illustrators.

All of these presenters are graduates of our Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books course, which is now open for registration with a $100 PBLove discount right here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/cbwpb.html

And if you’d like to apply for a scholarship for it, here’s the link: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/yuyi-morales-picture-book-scholarship.html

Sending much creative love,

Mira

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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