4 Sept 2023
Gianna Pollero, author of the hilarious Monster Doughnuts series, on the joy of writing funny stories for children
Gianna Pollero will be appearing at Waterstones, Maidstone, on Saturday 7th October from 12-1pm. Suitable for ages 6+.
When I started writing my debut children’s book, Monster Doughnuts, I wanted it to be funny and silly and ridiculous; something that made children (and the parents who might be reading it with them) laugh out loud and want to read on.
As a child, I loved books that made me laugh, and I still do as an adult. There’s something very special about humour in a book. For me, it’s completely different to watching something funny on television and, in many ways, more enjoyable as it’s a unique and quiet bond between a reader, their imagination and the story itself.
Monster Doughnuts gave me the perfect opportunity to play with comedy in a story. For a start, Mr Harris, the doughnut-loving, board game-playing, people-eating cyclops is obnoxious but funny and totally lovable. My readers seem to be delighted by his rudeness, self-importance and bad behaviour. And, for me, he’s an absolute pleasure to write because I can have so much fun with his character.
Then, there are the types of monsters in the books – Sock Stealers (steal just one of your socks hence the number of odd ones we all seem to have), Poo Shufflers (shuffle poo across the pavement so you tread in it), Mess Makers (make your bedroom untidy), Tripper Uppers (totally responsible for when you seem to trip over absolutely nothing). All of these creatures were made up to be relatable and comedic to children. And let’s not forget the fact that every one of them can be destroyed by that age-old, not-used-enough weapon… cake!
I truly believe this sort of silly, easy-going humour in children’s books is really important. It can be a much-needed escape from daily challenges and the strange times we have lived through over the last few years. Written comedy is an opportunity to have a laugh, it can build a bond when discussed or when read with someone else. There is no doubt in my mind that humour connects people and it’s a huge part of human interaction at any age.
As a writer, I love the creativity that comes with a funny story and the way it allows me to tap into my readers’ imaginations. When I speak to children about my books, they often want to tell me what made them laugh and who their favourite character was (almost always Mr Harris, the badly-behaved cyclops). They’ll often say they have come up with their own monsters and nearly all of them will mention a Poo Shuffler at least once (find me a child who doesn’t giggle at a poo joke – they’re few and far between!).
For me, reading and writing have always been a means of escape from the real world, and if that means of escape can also be hilarious then, frankly, I’m going to grab that opportunity with both hands. I think many people, young or old, would agree they’d do the same.
We all need a little light relief and a chance to get lost in another world from time to time. And, if I can bring joy to my young readers through a story that includes an enormous cyclops who wants to eat the Prime Minister, a troll called Alan, and an astounding number of exploding cakes, then I absolutely will.