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Middle Grade Funny Books

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Top 5 Middle Grade Funny Books

Following the launch of Aliens Invaded My Talent Show! (you can read our review here) we are delighted to host a guest post from author Matt Brown.

In this blog post, Matt tells us about some of his own favourite funny books.

My new book, Aliens Invaded My Talent Show!, is what is known in the publishing trade as “a funny, middle grade book”. In fact, there are some who whisper that it might be THE funniest middle grade book OF ALL TIME. That’s not for me to say. What I will say though is that if you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, what does ‘middle grade’ mean?”, then ‘middle grade’ is a phrase of, I think, American origin and means ‘suitable for kids aged roughly between 7 and 12’. Okay, so now that everyone is up-to-speed, then I’ll begin.

Disclaimer: Even though I loved reading Roald Dahl’s books when I was younger I haven’t included any here. Well, I mean, you already know which ones you love of his, don’t you?

Disclaimer No. 3: There is no Disclaimer No. 2

Disclaimer No. 4: These are my top five funny books as of right now. Ask me tomorrow and you might get five different ones. I’m afraid I’m like that.

Disclaimer No. 5: This top five list has no particular ranking system. I love them all equally.

Disclaimer No.6: No. No, it’s gone. Sorry, I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to say. I’m sure I’ll think of it later.

Throughout my life I have loved reading (and watching) funny stories. A funny plot, or character, or bit of dialogue is a jewel to be treasured. But as well as making you laugh, funny books can tackle difficult emotional subject matter too. As Neil Gaiman so wisely observed, “the opposite of ‘funny’ isn’t ‘serious’, the opposite of ‘funny’ is ‘not funny’”. Quite right. If you don’t believe me/Neil Gaiman then just read the way the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole deals with the impact of divorce on a teenager. It’ll break your heart. So, with that in mind, here are my top 5 fave funny middle grade books.

Spike Milligan

One of the first books I remember reading and laughing my head off about was Silly Verse for Kids by Spike Milligan. To this day, Spike remains one of my comedy heroes because he was silly. I love laughing at silly things and I suppose I always will. So, poems like Granny, were (and are) a treat to read out loud.

Through every nook and every cranny

The wind blew in on poor old granny

Around her knees, into each ear

(Up her nose as well, I fear)

Dav Pilkey
Graphic Novel

I am a fully-paid up member of the Dav Pilkey appreciation society. He is just a fantastically funny writer. The Captain Underpants books (and the Dogman spin-offs) are AMAZING. My son and I love sitting together and reading them. Like a lot of brilliant illustrators, Dav understands how funny the medium itself can be and really plays with space on the page and design and stuff like that. These are totes recommended.

Andy Stanton
Chapter book

The Mr Gum books have become absolute classics for children who love funny books and appeal to those with a wacky style of humour.

You’re A Bad Man Mr.Gum is a stonkingly funny read from Andy Stanton, full of pure silliness and with a track record of delighting children aged 7-10. Mr Gum is mean, untidy, grumpy and grizzly, but he is very good at keeping his garden neat. When an excitable giant dog called Jake makes a mess in Mr Gum’s garden, Mr Gum’s mean streak comes out in hilarious and, fairly ineffective, ways.

Children enjoy the randomness of the dialogue, the unpredictable plot, the funny character names and the author’s witty asides. Illustrations capture the madcap tone of the book and add to the fun.

Matt Brown
 & Paco Sordo
Chapter book

Aliens Invaded My Talent Show! by Matt Brown (who is also well-known for the Compton Valance series of books) is a middle-grade novel that is sure to be a hit with fans of funny children’s books. I found this to be quick and accessible read that had me giggling and guffawing the whole way through. What I enjoyed the most is the way in which there is a delightfully crafted mix of humour types woven through each chapter; visual (who can resist a good slapstick cake-whizzing-through-the-air scene?), satire that will makes OFSTED-weary teachers smile wryly, farce as the ridiculousness of the extinction scenario mounts, and an abundance of wordplay and puns. The written humour is perfectly accompanied by Paco Sordo’s cartoon-style illustrations…

For more laugh-out-loud book suggestions, see our reading for pleasure Funny Books list.

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