Monday, July 23, 2007
How do you know when what you write is funny?
Do you ever really "know?"
Funny is so personal. What one person thinks is humorous, another doesn't get at all. But I will usually have a feeling, if something works or doesn't-- for me.
Do you have any tips for writing funny books?
I'm not sure someone can write funny or be funny if they don't naturally think funny.
What are some of your favorite funny books?
I have so many favorites, it's difficult to name them all.
"Funny" out-loud, "funny" clever, "funny" charming, "funny" silly.
Some of my "funny" faves:
Junie B. Jones, Olivia, David Shannon's David, Alligator Boy by Diane Good and Cynthia Rylant. My own book faves: Bad Boys, Sweet Tooth, The Web Files.
If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?
Wow. That is difficult, because I've worked with such delicious illustrators--I would like to live in any of the books on which we've collaborated. I love Three French Hens, because it feels so cinematic--and I like the holiday fantasy and the New York and Paris scenes, so perhaps that one.
Who do you like more, The Marx Bros or the Three Stooges?
The Marx Brothers. They are outrageous, clever, verbal, physical, fabulous.
What was your best Halloween costume?
I'm not much of a Halloween person, but my favorite costume was Norma Desmond, with my husband as "Max." (Of course, very few people even knew who we were . . .) eh.
What is your Dream Job for a Day?
I would love to be in a Broadway musical, or have my own restaurant, or be in charge of throwing a spectacular party.
Clown V. Mime Deathmatch. Pick your winner.
I'm going to pick Bruce Willis for both of them. (Refer to Die Hard With a Vengeance.)
Funniest dead person you'd like to meet?
Too difficult! My list is way too long--Jack Benny, Gracie Allen, Judy Holliday, Johnny Carson, Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon, Thelma Ritter, Jack Parr, Gilda Radner...
Some of your books, like Moosetache and Bedhead, are about bad hair days. (We sense issues there.) If you could switch hair with someone, who would it be?
It's always the hair, isn't it?
Actually, it's my son who has the issues--with perpetually bad hair days. Me?...You know what they say -- be careful what you wish for. I think I'll just stick with my own.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Katherine Tegan Books
Mucumber McGee is feeling a little peckish. Alas, there is nothing in the house to eat! He scours the pantry and looks through every cupboard – all of them bare. Luckily, the icebox holds a great surprise! Tucked in the very back is one single, solitary raw hotdog. Mucumber snarfs down half of the hotdog before his sister arrives with terrible news. “Don’t you know, Mucumber, that hotdogs are made of meat? And fleshy meat that is not cooked is deadly bad to eat!”
As his sister explains, Poor Mucumber is destined to die. She even has a diagram to illustrate the effects of eating a raw tube steak: innards + bacterium + the theory of relativity = death! It’s all over for Mucumber. He’s toast! There’s nothing to do but go to his room and wait for the end. Luckily, Mucumber’s mother is much wiser than his sister and all’s well that ends well. Of course, all is even better that ends in a great feast for a very hungry boy!
This is a simple tale of hunger and the power of suggestion illustrated in a delightfully dark and slightly sinister style. Loehr mixes his own delightful style with one part Edward Gorey, one part Addams Family, and one part hotdog and comes up with a delicious tale!
Monday, July 09, 2007
Written and illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper
Houghton Mifflin Company
We love feisty characters. We love feisty female characters. But what we really love are feisty, female, funny characters, and nine year-old Just Grace is just that.
Blessed with "empathy superpowers," Grace cooks up a creative solution to help out her neighbor, Mrs. Luther, the strange and scary big kid teacher who lives next door. But when Grace's plan backfires, she's forced to team up with her least favorite person in the whole world, Sammy Stringer. Sammy is the kind of boy who enjoys lion poop and who manages to get every piece of food stuck in his teeth. (There's one in every class!) The two third-graders arm themselves with oven mitts and go on a quest to find Mrs. Luther's cat Crinkles. In the end, we see that Grace has changed her mind about the poop-loving Sammy Stringer when she wonders, "Maybe he's got magnetic teeth. Maybe that's why food gets stuck there." (We would like to nominate those two lines for Best Last Lines Award, if there is such an award, which there should be.)
Parents and teachers will love the subtle lesson about empathy and kindness. Kids will love the strong, funny voice and quirky illustrations. We happen to love the illustration of the squirrel in running shoes. There's something for everyone here!
Monday, July 02, 2007
by Wee Hairy Beasties
You may think that all we chicks do on any given day is read silly books and eat sprinkled donuts. And you would mostly be right. But every now and then, we chicks get a bee in our bonnet to shake our tail feathers and our groove things and our whatnots. And when we do, we crank up ANIMAL CRACKERS by Wee Hairy Beasties for delicious, romp-stomping tracks like Flies on My Taters, Ragtime Duck, and A Newt Called Tiny ("I call him Tiny because he's my newt.")
Featuring Kelly Hogan, Devil in a Woodpile, and British punk rockers Jon Langford and Sally Timms of Mekons fame, these Wee Hairy Beasties know how to raise the roof and rock the roost. Kids will eat up these jiggle-wiggle songs like coco pops while parents fall to their knees in gratitude for a children's music CD that doesn't induce nausea after more than one listen.
If you're anywhere near Chicago, check out Wee Hairy Beasties LIVE at Lollapalooza (Kidzapalooza Stage) at Grant Park on Saturday, August 4. At least one chick will be there cutting a rug with her chiclets. Put your boogie-woogie pants on and join the fun!