Updated: Aug 20, 2019
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.
Silly Verse for Kids
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)
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾
I’m going to get a bit gushy about this book. I think this might have been the book that made me think that I might want to write down funny things. It is SO funny and SO sad and SO tender and SO warm and SO heartbreaking. It’s such a skilfully observed book that so evokes what it was like to be a spotty teenager in the mid 1980s that I honestly thought Sue Townsend might have reached inside my brain. I read and re-read this a million times and the good news is that the sequel, the Growing Pains of Adrian Mole is just as good.
Disclaimer No.6: I’ve just remembered what it was I wanted to say. Okay, so you know I said there’s no ranking system? Well, there is. the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is my favourite funny book of all time. So there.
You can order The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole online or from your local bookshop or library.
Captain Underpants/Dog Man
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.
The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig
I first read this book about a year ago and I thought it was brilliant. It’s a great book to read aloud because the way Pig speaks is so cool. I also loved the hierarchy of animals in the farm. The chickens are a particular delight.
You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum!
I’ll be honest with you, it was my wife who hooked me into the world of Lamonic Bibber. I would listen to her reading it to our son and be unable to read a whole chapter without breaking down in hoots of laughter. This feels like a direct descendent of the worlds that Spike Milligan created. I don’t know if Andy loved Spike but he’s got the same silly sense of humour, for sure. Mr Gum is a shocker but his books are brilliant.
I know that your list will probably be different but then differences of opinion are what makes life fun, isn’t it? All I will say is that Aliens Invaded My Talent Show! is probably funnier than all of these amazing books rolled into one and is available on June 28th, 2018 at all good bookshops (and some terrible ones too).
Many thanks to Matt Brown for sharing these great suggestions with us and to Liz Scott & Usborne for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.