Making Frances Gilbert Laugh

Text: The marching band filled their tubas. AROOGAHFLOOP
She had me at “Aroogahfloop”.

This past Tuesday, I took in a webinar with Frances Gilbert, cheerfully titled “I’ll Acquire Your Book If You Make Me Laugh: Writing Humorous Picture Books”. Frances Gilbert is both an editor at Doubleday Young Readers and the author of several really funny picture books.

She walked us through several humorous picture books, pointing out all the elements that went into making them successfully funny. She added each element to a list, while warning us not to treat that list as a checklist.

The big takeaways: Every element has to be funny. The premise has to be funny, the language should be funny, the page turns should be funny, there should be room for the illustrator to have fun with the pictures, and most of all, each word should be chosen deliberately for maximum effect.

Finally, she shared a few pages from her own forthcoming picture book illustrated by Vin Vogel, and I have to say… it’s hilarious. She had me at the made-up word “Aroogahfloop”. I got her permission to share the above image on social media and promptly tweeted it.

Her book, TOO MUCH SLIME, will be available in July, but you can preorder it now (I have). Details here: https://tiny.cc/aroogahfloop

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