9 authors. 9 stories to make you laugh your head off again and again!
A scary shower + three twisty little pigs + a choose your own adventure + a Halloween chicken + a demonic clown + an unexpected gift + terrible twins + a famous dancing dog + a running race like no other = one hilarious book.
Laugh Your Head Off Again and Again is the third compilation from Pan Macmillan, featuring hilarious short stories from some of Australia’s funniest and most well-known children’s authors.
One of the first things I noticed about this book was its bright orange cover, with neon green text and illustrations. Each new story is also titled on bright green paper, with Andrea Innocent’s illustrations scattered throughout the book. The whole package is really striking and I imagine the book would be really eye-catching for a child in a bookstore.
“Ever since I’ve been old enough to have showers I’ve been trying to find a way to fill a shower cubicle up with water. If I put a face-washer over the plughole I can get the water as far up as my ankles, but it always ends up leaking out through the gaps in the door.”
This book would be a lot of fun for kids. There are plenty of fart jokes, name calling, clown jokes and sibling rivalries. There’s some tongue in cheek humour and lots of sarcasm. My particular favourites are Andy Griffiths, Tristan Bancks, Tony Wilson and Deborah Abela.
“I have another flashback to the painting over my bed, the night he slipped out over the frame and tried to suffocate me with the world’s unfunniest clown fart. It smelt like dead mice, ginger beer and cauliflower. I was drowning in it.”
These stories are imaginative and very funny, and I’d recommend this to kids both female and male. The stories are very gender neutral so the book didn’t feel too much like it was aimed at male readers.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN BANCKS
What’s your favourite part of being a children’s author?
Having an outlet for my imagination on the page and then finding ways to bring that story to life in live talks and online.
What was the inspiration behind your story in ‘Laugh Your Head Off Again and Again’?
My story is called ‘Death By Clown’. When I was a kid there was a picture of a very tall, very skinny clown hanging over my bed. I was terrified of it and used to take it down off the wall and put it behind a bookshelf before I went to school. But when I’d get home the clown would be back on the wall and I was never quite sure if it was my mum who had put it back up or the creepy clown himself.
What do you think is essential when trying to write humour for kids?
Don’t hold back. If a crazy, gross or dark idea occurs it’s best to write it and then decide later if it’s totally inappropriate. Most often it’s fine. Kids like stories that push the boundaries of ‘what’s allowed’ and editing ideas in your mind too early robs the reader of the most interesting possibilities.
What are the different challenges between writing for kids and writing for teens?
It’s really just a gear shift in your mind, in the same way that you might tell a verbal story differently to a kid or to a teenager. You highlight different parts of the story and leave out others. Teens can find certain things trivial or annoying that younger children find thrilling or hilarious. I write darker, more serious stuff for older readers (Two Wolves and The Fall) and sillier, funnier stuff for younger kids (My Life series and stories for Laugh Your Head Off). But there’s humour in the older books and a touch of darkness in the younger. I like writing both.
Between writing and appearing at schools & festivals, do you have a routine? How do you juggle your workload?
I spend about seven months of the year writing, four months touring and I have a month off. I’m still writing while I’m touring but not as much and I try not to panic or get frustrated about that. I try to enjoy it all. I’m starting to work on adapting my books for the screen, too, and that’s exciting. I started out in film and TV and I love the work of re-thinking the story for a different medium.
Which Australian author would you love to collaborate with?
I am actually longing to do more collaborative work right now. It gets boring working alone all the time. In saying that, co-writing can be tricky, especially on a book. I really admire Morris Gleitzman’s stuff. I love working with Gus Gordon on the My Life books. Claire Zorn’s books are excellent. I love Markus Zusak’s early Ruben Wolfe series. Not sure if I want to collaborate or just read more of their books!
And finally, what are you working on next?
I’ve just finished editing the latest My Life / Tom Weekly book of comedy short stories for 2018 release. Gus Gordon is illustrating it right now. And I’m writing a novel about a lockdown in a school. It’s inspired by a couple of drills I’ve been part of during school visits. It’s for upper primary / early high school readers and I’m enjoying watching it unfold.
You can read more about Tristan and his books at his WEBSITE.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Laugh Your Head Off Again and Again
Featured Authors: Andy Griffiths, Alex Ratt, Tony Wilson, Meredith Costain, Tristan Bancks, R.A Spratt, John Marsden, Deborah Abela and Alan Brough
Pan Macmillan Publishers