Lollies 2023: The Ages 6-8 Shortlist Q&A

Hear from the creators of our superbly silly titles in the Ages 6-8 Shortlist for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2023!

Lollies 2023: Finding the funniest books!

We sat down with Joanna Nadin (JN) and Rikin Parekh (RP) author and illustrator of The Worst Class in the World Gets Worse, Steven Lenton (SL), author/illustrator of Genie and Teeny, and Thomas Flintham (TF), illustrator of A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch, to ask them all about their shortlisted works, and why funny books are so important.

Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2023! How does it feel to have your work recognised by the judges?

JN: It feels amazing! The only prize I ever won as a child was some hair conditioner from a magazine in a lucky draw, so this is super exciting, and all the more so because it’s for a funny book.

RP: It feels REALLY COOL, I am so proud of everyone involved!

SL: Thank you! It is VERY exciting to be shortlisted, I am thrilled. Us authors and illustrators spend so much time on our own creating our books, you never know if what you’ve been working on is going to be enjoyed by readers, so this recognition from readers and the Lollies judges is wonderful, and has really spurred me on to create more characters and stories.

TF: It’s a great honour! I love working on this series, I laugh a lot while drawing the illustrations! It’s great to see the hilarious stories and characters Pamela has created get acknowledged for being so funny.

Why do you think funny books are important?

JN: There’s a strange belief among some people that funny books are somehow less important than serious ones, and I disagree. Laughing is therapeutic – it makes you feel better, so that’s important on its own. But being funny doesn’t mean a book can’t have a message as well, and The Worst Class in the World Gets Worse is full of messages about kindness, and it also helps you understand what it’s like to be all sorts of different people. It just does it with a Smelly Death Log and a Poo Wagon thrown in as well. (Also, being able to make people laugh is like a superpower – it feels amazing.)

RP: I think funny books are important because they make us laugh, and when we laugh we are having fun – and having fun is what it’s all about.

SL: Nothing beats a really good belly laugh, it makes everyone feel good, so I think that funny stories and illustrations are so important to help bring smiles and joy to readers of all ages. They make us feel better don’t they, so read as many funny books as you can, especially if you are feeling a bit flat.

TF: I think funny books really encourage kids to read. Adults too! Who wouldn’t want to do something that makes them laugh?

Can you tell us more about your shortlisted book?

JN: The Worst Class in the World Gets Worse follows the madcap antics of Class 4B who are LITERALLY the worst class in the world (at least, according to their headteacher, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, who makes a noise like a horse when she is annoyed, which is a lot). In these two adventures, we find out the reason the school has a Poo Wagon (spoiler alert: Manjit floods the actual toilets) and exactly how Harvey Barlow smuggles a penguin out of the zoo.

RP: It’s a journey in the realms of madness with over-flowing toilets, penguins, and just your everyday happenings with a really lovely (but sometimes bonkers) Year 4 class who are always trying to do the right thing. I’ve worked with children and classes just like this!

SL: Genie and Teeny is a really funny and magical read, but it also deals with themes of belonging and what home means. It is full of interactivity, illustrations and even has a drawalong at the back to help you draw your very own Grant the Genie. I think it also has just the right balance of magic, emotion and flatulence!

TF: Izzy and her friends are on a school trip to a mysterious lake. Everything gets really spooky (and silly!) when they start to suspect they’ve found a dangerous crisp stealing monster!

Why should children vote for you?

JN: I’d say because otherwise the Ghost Pigeon might get you or you’ll go on the Disappointing Day Board, but that would be wrong! So the real answer is: because it’s hilarious, and it would LITERALLY make Manjit’s head explode if we won.

RP: Children should vote for Jo and I because we really know what funny is all about and we both have first-hand experience about what 4B are doing, have done and will do – me working as a teaching assistant in a primary school, and Jo having her own schools stories and her own stories about her daughter that are just laugh-out-loud funny!

SL: Well, I think if you have read Genie and Teeny and loved it, then of COURSE please do vote for me! I love creating stories and characters so I really hope that readers up and down the land have enjoyed the first in the series of Grant and Teeny’s silly but heartfelt adventures as much as I enjoyed dreaming them up.

TF: If they like spooky mysteries with a lot of laughs too, then this is the book for them!

What would you say to anyone hoping to one day write or illustrate their own book?

JN: READ! There is no better way to learn to write better than to read as much as possible. And practise your writing or drawing too. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t come out how you want at first, because, just like playing the violin or doing gymnastics, the more you do it, the better you get.

RP: Do it. Keep a sketch book for all your drawings, draw everything everywhere, write down your ideas, you don’t want to forget them. Read as much as you can, do as much as you can to make your writing and drawing more expressive. And probably the most important thing, never give up. Never give up. You will fail at some things but that’s because you just don’t know yet how to win them.

SL: Keep jotting down ideas as and when they pop into your head, and the same goes for character or illustration ideas. A top tip is to draw SMALL first in a small sketchbook or piece of paper and when you have drawn lots of little characters, start drawing them slightly larger, adding more detail until you are happy with your creation!

TF: You can do it! The best thing you can do is practice, and practice, and then practice some more! The more you draw or write the better you’ll get.

Don’t forget to read the shortlisted books and vote for your favourites!

Cast your vote

Genie and Teeny: Make a Wish
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Genie and Teeny: Make a Wish by Steven Lenton

Meet Grant the genie, and his best friend – the puppy Teeny… The first in a series of magical adventures from the renowned illustrator, Steven Lenton, winner of Waterstones Picture Book of the Month and the Times Children’s Book of the Week.

When Grant the Genie is cast out of Genie World, he lands on Earth with a big, fat bump! Without a lamp to call home, he has to settle for an old cracked teapot instead.

Grant is very lonely until he meets the puppy, Teeny. Then Genie and Teeny are kidnapped by the evil purple-loving Lavinia Lavender, and find themselves on-course for a rollercoaster of an adventure – when all they really want is a place to call home…

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Grimwood by Nadia Shireen

Fox cub siblings Ted and Nancy are on the run from Princess Buttons, the scariest street cat in the Big City. They flee for Grimwood, expecting to find refuge in the peaceful countryside. Instead, they are met with thieving eagles, dramatic ducks, riotous rabbits and a whole host of unusual characters. Grimwood is . . . weird. But when Princess Buttons tracks them down, Nancy and Ted and the animals of Grimwood must unite in a mind-bending race against time . . .

This memorable, distinctive and warm-hearted comedy series will have kids begging to read more.

Monster Ate My Packed Lunch!
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A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham

Hilarious, illustrated school-based antics where everything that happens leads to DRAMA and RUNNING AROUND and even some FAINTING! Izzy and her friends are on a school trip to a big lake. Gary Petrie is excited because the lodges where they’re staying have ROBES AND SLIPPERS! The lake is dark and deep and a bit scary. But it’s when they open their packed lunches that they know! There’s a MONSTER in the lake and it’s coming for their CRISPS!

Laugh-out-loud fun from Blue Peter Award winners Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham.

Worst Class in the World Gets Worse
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The Worst Class in the World Gets Worse by Joanna Nadin and Rikin Parekh

According to head teacher Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, 4B is the WORST CLASS IN THE WORLD. She says school is not about footling or fiddle-faddling or FUN. It is about LEARNING and it is high time 4B tried harder to EXCEL at it.

But Stanley and Manjit didn’t LITERALLY mean to flood the toilets when they should have been monitoring the playground. And they definitely didn’t LITERALLY mean to bring a penguin home from the zoo on their school trip. These things just happened even though they had a FOOLPROOF plan to get away with them.

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