In the Coop with Kara and Jenna LaReau
Hurray! Hurray! It's a very special day! We are celebrating with two of our favorite talented chicks--who also happen to be sisters!
Kara and Jenna LaReau are the uber-talented writing & illustrating team who brought us the Rocko and Spanky series of picture books. Really folks! What could be cooler than a sock monkey on a Vespa? NOTHING!
Kara is also the author of UGLY FISH which is one of our favorite funny picture books. These chicks are funny, smart, and obviously photogenic as you can see by their lovely photo!!! Welcome Sisters LaReau!
How do you know when what you write is funny?
K: When Jenna tells me. Seriously, she is my comedy barometer, and often, my inspiration.
Do you have any tips for writing funny books?
It's all about rhythm and word choice, and being willing to make unexpected decisions to catch your audience off-guard. With Rocko and Spanky, their names alone elicit chuckles; the legwarmers and roller skates and maracas are just the icing. And most of the reason we think Ugly Fish is funny is the page turns (and of course, Scott's illustrations).
Has being funny ever gotten you into or out of trouble?
Kara spent most of her elementary school career sitting in the corner; those old-school teachers just couldn't tolerate a female class clown. As Jenna followed Kara in school, she had to face all those teachers with bad memories of the OTHER LaReau sister, so Jenna learned how to turn on the charm from an early age. Though we came to it in different ways (one getting into trouble, one getting out of it), we both realized we had a knack for entertaining.
What are some of your favorite funny books?
Honestly, it's hard to know where to start. As kids, we loved Shel Silverstein, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, Dr. Seuss, and Beverly Cleary. And there was a book about how to become a competitive rollerskater that Kara read zealously when she was 7-8 years old, but that's only funny in retrospect. And it's funny-sad, not funny-ha-ha.
If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?
Definitely Rocko and Spanky's crib. Ugly Fish's tank is too wet and briny, Snowbaby's is too chilly, and the world of Top Secret isn't exactly relaxing. Sock monkeys really know how to entertain, and they have a flair for decor.
Who do you like more, The Marx Bros or Three Stooges
Neither. We're not so much into the slapping and poking and drawn-on, bushy eyebrows. We'd rather watch old episodes of the Carol Burnett Show.
What was your best Halloween costume?
Kara's "best" was when she went out as a tube of toothpaste. She wore a white pleated lampshade on her head and a long T-shirt on which she drew the Aim logo. Unfortunately, just about everyone thought she was a lamp; it was her first experience as a misunderstood artist, though certainly not her last.
Jenna's best was when she went as Superman, because our mother allowed her to get a storebought costume. It was one of those with the mask and plastic onesie that tied in the back. Not surprisingly, Jenna kept the cape and wore it for some time afterwards; she displayed a panache for accessorizing even then.
What is your Dream Job for a Day?
For Jenna, a magician (a la Houdini, not Doug Henning). For Kara, a seat-filler at the Academy Awards. Or a professional rollerskater.
Clown V. Mime Deathmatch. Pick your winner.
Though clowns might appear the obvious choice (they're vicious with a seltzer bottle), mimes have street smarts and stealth on their side. Also, when in danger, they can always box themselves in.
Funniest dead person you?d like to meet?
Dean Martin or Gilda Radner.