Michael Rosen, chair of the judging panel for the new Laugh Out Loud Book Prize (the Lollies), launched this month by Scholastic, talks about the award.
Why did you decide to work with Scholastic on a new funny book prize?
I love the fact there are so many top-notch children’s book prizes, but I felt that a fun book had almost no chance of winning a prize. However, kids love and adore funny books so I thought there was a gap, which is why I set up the Roald Dahl Funny Prize a few years ago. When it wasn’t possible to carry on with that prize, Scholastic said it was something it would like to do and I decided to get on board. People need to know about all the great, funny books that are out there.
Why do funny books draw kids into reading?
They’re often subversive. Kids are marginalised in some respects—they have no power and we push them through the education system in a way that is often harmful. To be funny, books often subvert the power structure, by being scatological or naughty, for example. If you look at The Twits, Roald Dahl was subverting everything adults are supposed to be. He is saying to children “look at these stupid adults”. He was very daring in that respect.
How will the prize be run?
Scholastic will do all the organising. Rachel Partridge [the publisher’s marketing director] has done an amazing job setting it up. I have the privilege of being chair of the judging panel.
Which funny authors do you currently admire?
There are so many brilliant funny writers around. I admire Laura Dockrill and I think Danny Wallace is developing a great voice. I haven’t read David Baddiel’s new book yet but I’ve heard good things. Children have told me they like my new book, Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed [Bloomsbury Children’s], too!