Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the Coop with Bonny Becker

Children's book author Bonny Becker stole our fowl hearts many moons ago with the world's most lovable (and hungriest) crocodile. Bonny's playful language and wry humor sparkle again in A Visitor for Bear, her most recent picture book gorgeously illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, about a grumbly bear and a wee mouse who won't take no for an answer. It was our great pleasure to ask Bonny a few questions.

How do you know when what you write is funny?

When it makes me laugh. But, maybe that’s not such a good test; I’m a shamefully easy laugh. My husband’s been counting on it for years. In fact, he doesn’t have to do his comic bits at all anymore. All he has to say now is “Punchline #25” and I’ll laugh.

Do you have any tips for writing funny books?

Go with your own sense of humor, whatever it is—dry wit, slapstick, gentle smiles, bodily functions. Maybe for younger kids you should go a little light on the irony. Although if it were an ironic fart…

Has being funny ever gotten you into or out of trouble?

Once I thought it would be “funny” to tie my brother to the bathroom sink with a rope. My brother thought it would be “funny” to tickle me as I attempted this. Then funnily enough my hands slipped out from under me; I hit the bathroom floor with my mouth open and shattered my two front teeth.

Oddly, my father didn’t think it was funny at all.

What are some of your favorite funny books?

The Wayside School books by Louis Sachar

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein

“Shrek” by William Steig

“Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett

“Me Talk Pretty Someday” by David Sedaris

“Cheaper by the Dozen” by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“Auntie Mame” okay it’s a movie, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

“The Christmas Crocodile.” I love the grand old house that the illustrator David Small created and the absurd family. I want an Uncle Carbuncle who sends crocodiles for Christmas.

Do you prefer The Marx Bros or Three Stooges?

Hands down the Marx Brothers. Give me “the secret word” over an eye poke any day.

What was your best Halloween costume ever?

In our family there were no store-bought outfits; we couldn’t wear masks because you couldn’t see well so they weren’t “safe” and my mom was not into sewing, so I alternated between a ghost in an old white sheet with cut out eyes (yeah, that was a lot safer) or a gypsy with a long skirt, a scarf around my head and a bunch of my mom’s costume jewelry. My brother had it worse—I think he was a bum every year.

What is your Dream Job for a Day?

To be a great singer/songwriter. After a day of good food and schmoozing with my fabulously funny friends in New York, a visit to the beauty salon (where I’m mysteriously 20 years younger), a little shopping, museum going and fending off fans, I’m whisked off in the limo to my performance at that great little club where I sing my heart out. Then I stay up all night writing songs. Okay, so it’s a really long day.

Clown V. Mime Deathmatch. Pick your winner.

Mime bores Clown to death.

Funniest dead person you'd like to meet?

Groucho Marx

BONUS QUESTION: Word on the street is that there will be more Bear books to come. Can you give us the scoop? What's up next for Bear?

In 2009 is “A Birthday for Bear” where Bear reprises his grouchy role, but this time it’s about his birthday. Mouse eventually tricks Bear into having a happy birthday—it involves lots of cake.

After that is “A Bedtime for Bear.” Bear has his first ever sleepover. But there is one problem—Bear needs quiet, absolute quiet to sleep. And Mouse, well, he tries to be as quiet as a, well, you know. But Bear hears every whisper and rustle.

1 comment:

Jules at 7-Imp said...

WAHOO! I can't wait to read more Bear books.

Thanks for this fun interview.