by Bryan Patrick Avery
Recently, I’ve been studying the work of comedy magicians such as Mark James, Mac King, and Scott Alexander. What I’ve discovered is there is a delicate balancing act to be performed. Too much humor, and you overshadow the magic. Not enough, and what humor there is seems out of place. This is also true when telling a story. Let’s take a look at three humorous tales that have found a great balance between humor and story.
“No, David!”, a Caldecott Honor Book by David Shannon, follows the antics of David, a little boy who finds his way into big trouble. With sparse text (mostly variations of "No, David") the story is told primarily through the images. We follow David is he tracks mud through the house, plays with his food at the table and gets in all manner of hilarious trouble. We connect with David and, when he is punished for a particularly destructive accident, we feel for him as he sits in his corner. The book takes a surprising, and touching turn at the end which makes it a satisfying read for adults and kids alike. If you’re looking for a way to combine text and imagery in a way that elicits both laughs and emotion, check out “No, David!”
“Eduardo Guardardo, Elite Sheep”, written by Anthony Pearson and illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris, is the newest edition to my bookshelf. Eduardo Guardardo is a sheep who is graduating from the Fairy-Tale Bureau of Investigations. He considers himself to be an Elite Sheep. He’s even been given his own case! As he embarks on his case, keeping a young girl named Mary safe from several unseemly characters, he repeatedly turns down help from his fellow agents.
He soon finds out that he can’t succeed in his mission alone, leading to a surprising story conclusion. This tale, an imaginary backstory for Mary Had A Little Lamb, is creative and funny, and the conclusion helps reinforce a valuable lesson for readers. It’s a fun read and a great example of using creativity to create a witty and enjoyable book.
“Book or Bell?” written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Ashley Spires, begins with a situation we can all relate to: Henry is reading a book. It has him hooked, and then the bell rings. The book will have to wait right? Not this time. Henry decides to ignore the bell and keep reading. The school, unprepared for a student to “stay put”, immediately sees the consequences as Henry’s absence from other activities has negative (and hilarious) repercussions. Funnier still, though, is the reaction from political leaders to Henry’s actions. The story is wrapped up with a very simple suggestion. In all, it’s a satisfying end to a side-splitting tale.
Well, that’s all for this month. Next month, we’ll look at a few books that showcase diversity in interesting and innovative ways. Have a magical month!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature a surprise reprise from over nine years of archives.