The Importance of Funny Books for Children
I remember very clearly the moment that I decided that I wanted to write a comedy book for kids, it was while I was part way through reading You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum by the very naughty Andy Stanton, with my daughter who must have been six or seven at the time.
We had just reached the end of a particularly funny chapter and our sides were aching because we’d laughed so much, and we were both in tears. The chapter had been SO funny. We’d laughed together SO much, that rather than move on to the next chapter, we just looked at each other and I asked, ‘Shall we just read THAT ONE again?’ She broke into a delighted twinkly smile, and replied with a great big ‘YES’.
For me, this was a deliciously refreshing eye-opener. I had never enjoyed a chapter with such uncomplicated joy that I was left not wanting to read the next chapter, but just do exactly the same one, ALL OVER AGAIN. Reassuringly, I know we laughed just as much the second time round. As the weeks and months went by, we would often dip into different passages, just so we could laugh together BECAUSE IT WAS FUN. I knew that this was a sort of magic and I wanted very much to try and create a similar little slice. I was hooked on trying to write good comedy for kids.
Andy Stanton was like nothing I had seen before, the Mr Gum books seemed SO easy but that is the thing about genius, it looked effortless but of course it wasn’t. I tried for years to write a funny book, learning all the while. It was a decade later that Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest came out but I had very much enjoyed giving it a go.
The reason that I think that is so important all boils down to that evening reading in bed with my daughter. It was a shared moment of joy and laughter that we both loved so much that we wanted to repeat it immediately. ‘AGAIN’, as little people who are incredibly happy love to say.
There is nothing better than being with people and laughing. No two ways about it.
I think that if you can show a child who is being read to, or just starting to read, that reading can be so much fun that you cry laughing and collapse into a duvet in fits of giggles then you have shown them something cool that they will want to do AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and that is worth its weight in gold.
Harry Heape is an artist, a visionary and a very unsuccessful none of your businessman.
When he was a little boy, Harry dreamed of being a writer, and a Police dog. Now that he has written his first book he is contacting Police forces up and down the country to try and make the second part of his childhood dream come true. Criminals, rapscallions, and naughty crocodiles beware.
A shy and quiet man, Harry lives and writes on the edge of a magical forest where he spends any spare time that he has collecting pine cones and volunteering at his local monkey prison.
Harry Heape’s very funny book series, featuring Shiny Pippin and illustrated by Rebecca Bagley, is available at all the BEST bookshops.