content by

Kaye Umansky

Writing Funny

Hooray! I’ve got two books out in America! How great is that? One is a mock Victorian children’s fantasy called The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow. The other—Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage—is set in a magical world, with witches and stuff. Nobody gets really hurt and good firmly triumphs over bad. I hope American kids find them funny, because funny is what I do. Character and plot are important, but above all I want to raise a smile. Here in the U.K., I’m best known for a series about a witch called Pongwiffy who lives with a talking hamster.

Funny books have enjoyed a bit more press in the U.K. recently, thanks to the lovely Michael Rosen (our previous Children’s Laureate) who came up with the inspired idea of a Funny Prize. I got to be a judge, which is why I love him. Those of us who write funny books can now crawl in from the comedy wilderness, which is a dry wasteland peppered with unexpected canyons, cartoon cactuses and people doing pratfalls.

It’s high time funny books were taken seriously. They are regularly overlooked in the major prizes. Short-listed, maybe. But they rarely win. When the winner is announced, the hopeful smiles fade from the lips of us poor old funny writers. Some of us have been known to weep. Or is that just me?

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