Cast your vote because laughing really does matter

2018 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies)
2018 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies)
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Get out your tickling sticks because it’s time to celebrate those wonderful books which make you laugh out loud!

Youngsters are being asked to cast their votes in the 2018 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards now in their third year, and established by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books.

The Lollies were created in response to Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report which revealed that two-thirds of children aged six to seventeen looked for ‘books that make me laugh’ when choosing books for themselves.

This year’s shortlist has been selected and the winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website, http://www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Lollies PopJam channel. Teachers can cast up to 35 votes on behalf of their class for each category. Voting closes on December 14 and the winning books will be announced in January 2019.

Having long championed humorous books for children, Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, said of the shortlist: ‘Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job.

‘They are infectious and contagious and dangerous! Children will want to read them and ask for more. People talk about the importance of getting children reading, well, these shortlisted books do the work all by themselves.’

Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Katie Thistleton, presenter and host of the CBBC Children’s Book Club, primary school teachers and bloggers, Jo Cummins and Jonny Walker, as well Kate Newport, product director for Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs, were tasked with selecting the shortlist from nearly 120 titles submitted by children’s publishers.

Rachel Partridge, group marketing and publicity director, added: ‘The Lollies continues to grow apace as a celebration of all that is wonderful about funny books. The quality of the submissions for this year’s Lollies demonstrated the strength and depth of author and illustrator talent that abounds in UK publishing.

‘We cannot wait to share these incredible books with teachers, kids and parents and have ambitious plans this year to engage even more schools and get as many kids as possible reading the shortlisted books and voting for their favourites before the votes closes on December 14.’

The three categories, which include Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8s, and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13s, comprise some of the best and funniest books around. There are four shortlisted books in each category.

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan

Mr Bunny might have a very successful chocolate factory but that doesn’t mean he’s always a good egg!

Prepare to laugh out loud when Elys Dolan’s clever, comical and superbly illustrated story reveals what happens when chocolate egg production goes into meltdown because mean Mr Bunny won’t let his hard-working chickens take a long overdue holiday.

Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory is the second outstanding picture book from the talented young author and illustrator who brought us the much-loved Steven Seagull Action Hero… and her eye for exquisite small detail and wry comedy wins the day again.

As the owner of a large chocolate factory, Mr Bunny is never satisfied with his success. But when he starts to expect too much of his staff, he finds himself left to run the business single-handed. Will Mr Bunny begin to realise that many minds are better than one when trying to get a job done well? Or will his chocolate empire fall apart under the pressure of running it alone?

This cute, cautionary and truly funny tale teaches youngsters the importance of fairness, equality and team work as well offering a riotous romp packed with a delicious mix of comic capers, tasty gags, adorable characters, and lots of chocolate!

A feast of giggles for every generation…

(OUP, paperback, £6.99)

Oi Cat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

Oi there, listen up! Award-winning rhymester Kes Gray continues to dazzle and delight with the wickedly clever picture books that have made him a hot favourite with every generation.

Oi Cat! is the follow-up to Oi Frog! and Oi Dog! and sees the master of versatile verse and his genius illustrator team-mate Jim Field on their best – and silliest – form. These raucous rhyming romps pair pictures and words in perfect comedy harmony, challenging and inspiring the very youngest children to use and enjoy language.

Our familiar and scheming friend Frog is still orchestrating the action, trying to convince his creature cohorts that cats sit on gnats, dogs sit on logs, raccoons sit on macaroons, armadillos sit on pillows and chicks sit on bricks. But hang on a minute, Cat doesn’t like sitting on gnats, they keep biting his bottom! Will Frog and Dog help him to change the rules?

With a colourful gallery of Field’s bold and amazingly expressive illustrations and increasingly outrageous word combinations on each page – culminating in in a hilarious lift-the-flap surprise – youngsters will be joining in the rhymes, laughing out loud and begging to read it all again the moment the last page has turned.

Simple, subtle and supremely entertaining, this is a picture book pairing made in comedy heaven!

(Hodder Children’s Books, paperback, £6.99)

The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright and Jim Field

A lesson in sharing becomes the first step to caring in Rachel Bright’s brilliantly fun and joyful tale of two greedy squirrels competing (with hilarious consequences!) for the very last nuts of the season.

The magnificently named squirrels, Spontaneous Cyril and Plan-Ahead Bruce, set off on a madcap, high-octane adventure that positively crackles with Bright’s energetic and exuberant rhymes, and springs to vibrant life through the artistry and expertise of illustrator extraordinaire Jim Field.

The Squirrels Who Squabbled is the third rhyming caper from the bestselling team that brought us The Lion Inside and The Koala Who Could, and it is a symphony in creative verse, scintillating storytelling and illustrative imagination.

Cyril and Bruce both have their sights on a very special prize… the very last pine cone of the season bursting with juicy nuts. As the nut bounces crazily though the forest, the squirrels race after it, between the trees, over boulders, down the river and – oh no! – right to the edge of a steep waterfall! Working together might be the only way to save themselves now...

Field’s superbly detailed, bright and busy illustrations, Bright’s addictive, child-friendly rhymes and the inspired pairing of party animal Cyril and greedy hoarder Bruce are the stuff of story-time dreams for both readers and listeners.

There are morals here about the importance of sharing and the value of friendship but they are neatly wrapped up in a laugh-out-loud, simply irresistible adventure that is destined to be a new favourite for the picture book shelves.

(Orchard Books, paperback, £6.99)

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

Least said, the better as talented author and illustrator Will Mabbitt opens up a can of comedy worms in a picture book that cannot help but wriggle its way into your heart.

Based on the ingenious premise that a book doesn’t necessarily have to be full of clever words and stylish illustrations, Mabbitt goes back to basics (a minutely minimal text and simple worm line drawings) to produce a story that is not just eminently comprehensible to little ones but incredibly funny as well.

This book is about worms, we are told by an author and illustrator who can only draw worms. Now you might think worms are boring… but you would be wrong because these ten colourful worms have amazing adventures! Unfortunately, our illustrator can’t draw those bits so we have to imagine them, and the result will leave everyone in stitches.

Mabbitt zones in perfectly and enticingly on that wry brand of British humour in which failed expectation is so much cleverer and more comical than the sometimes flat experience of conventional realisation.

Using an eye-catching, two-tone palette of neon pink and bright yellow, I Can Only Draw Worms is a simply captivating picture book that not only provides youngsters with an innovative one-to-ten countdown lesson but a barrel of laughs as well!

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds:

Lyttle Lies: The Pudding Problem by Joe Berger

Honest truth… serial liar Sam Lyttle is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud!

Author and illustrator extraordinaire Joe Berger turns fibbing into an art form in the first book of Lyttle Lies, a brilliant new graphic series simply brimming with fun, anarchy… and plenty of porky-pies.

Sam Lyttle is a habitual liar. Even he admits, albeit reluctantly, that he sometimes tells the odd untruth and has been known to occasionally strrrrrretch the truth a little.

To be totally honest (well, sort of) Sam would rather skirt the truth and avoid trouble. However, he soon finds out that in trying to avoid trouble, not telling the truth gets him in to all sorts of scrapes. His mum (who thinks maths homework is the sole purpose of being a child), dad (who is happiest jazz-guitar noodling), his big sister Suzy (who thinks herself SO superior) and Grandpa (aka The Great Wonderoso) would like him to be more honest.

And now Sam is in a pickle… in fact he’s in a whole jar of pickles. It’s four o’clock on a Friday and he has until Monday morning to sort it out… or else! Will he ever learn?

With its bold, comic-style illustrations and wonderfully witty humour, this pitch-perfect series is ideal for reluctant readers who like their books to come with plenty of comedy and pictures. The lively, fun-filled illustrations help to keep the story visually interesting and bring madcap Sam’s adventures and misadventures to life in all their glorious anarchy.

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp

Everyone’s favourite Pig is back… and we still can’t believe that he isn’t telling porkies!

The amazing adventures of Pig and his charismatic farmyard friends have won an army of fans with youngsters trotting back to seek more madcap adventures after the publication of each bonkers book.

Author and illustrator Emer Stamp was raised on a sheep farm in Devon and it was here that she met all the characters who star in these hilarious escapades, written in the form of bizarre diary entries and all accompanied by a gallery of Pig’s brilliant illustrations.

And in this fourth farm outing, there are the now trademark parps, slops and poo bombs as well as a brilliant new character… Rusty the three-legged dog!

Pig doubts you will believe any of his new adventures. In fact, he tells us that if ‘you are the kind of farmer what finds it hard to believe unbelievable stuff, you should put it down right now. I wouldn’t blame you. If I was reading it I would be like, “Don’t be silly! Stuff like this would never happen to a pig, it’s totally impossible.” But it’s not. Just ask Duck, or Cow, or Ki-Ki, or Rusty. They’d all tell you. It’s all 1,000% true and 10,000% bonkers!’

Young readers will enjoy rearranging Pig’s jumbled up sentences and can visit Pig’s extraordinary website diaryofpig.com to find out more about him, ask him questions, discover fun Piggy activities and lots more.

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

There’s a Werewolf in My Tent! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham

Award-winning author Pamela Butchart’s vivid imagination moves into its extraordinary overdrive for a madcap camping adventure in her much-loved Baby Aliens series.

There are giggles galore and lashings of laughs in this longer-length escapade which is ideal for youngsters becoming confident readers, and a guaranteed winner for reading aloud to groups or school classes.

Teacher-cum-author Butchart’s fun-filled Baby Aliens series blends anarchy and adventure with important life messages. Using her ‘insider’ knowledge of schools, she delivers all-action, knockabout, child-friendly stories which can’t fail to tickle the funny bones of young readers.

So get ready to laugh your socks off as Izzy, Maisie and their pals get mega-excited about their very first overnight school trip. They are going camping and there will be marshmallows, no washing, and all the other outdoor fun. But then weird things start happening! There are howling sounds at night, some sausages have gone missing, and it’s nearly a full moon. And it's when they see their extremely tall and extremely strong teacher Miss Moon’s hairy legs that they know for sure. There’s a werewolf on the school trip and they are all doomed!

Expect comedy capers full of mischief and mayhem, and a dizzying, dazzling gallery of Thomas Flintham’s high-energy black-and-white illustrations, as Izzy’s intrepid gang get to grips with some wild and hilarious antics.

Seriously – and scarily – funny!

(Nosy Crow, paperback, £6.99)

Barry Loser and the Birthday Billions by Jim Smith

A bit of toilet humour is never a ‘waste’ when it comes to making children laugh out loud… and Barry Loser delivers it in bucketfuls!

The Birthday Billions is the amazing eighth book in award-winning Jim Smith’s hilarious series which boasts anarchic fun, a super-child-friendly format full of cartoon-style illustrations, and crazy catchwords that have become part and parcel of the Barry Loser experience.

In his latest chaotic adventure it’s Barry’s birthday and his mum and dad have bought him the amazekeel new gaming helmet he wanted… The Shnozinator 9000. It’s the best birthday present ever… until his baby brother Des thinks it’s a potty, wees in it and ruins everything. But Barry has a plan; he’ll just have to become a billionaire inventor and make enough money to buy another Shnozinator before his life is comperleeterly over…

Smith has his finger firmly on the pulse of what makes kids (and grown-ups!) laugh… the pages of these books positively buzz with energy, madcap antics, and a joyful sense of outlandish chaos that is as addictive as it is entertaining.

Wild, witty and comperleeterly brilliant…

(Egmont, paperback, £6.99)

The four shortlisted books in the Best Laugh Out Loud category for 9-13 year olds are: Tom Gates: Epic Adventure (Kind Of) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic); My Mum’s Growing Down by Laura Dockrill and David Tazzyman (Faber); Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure by A. L. Kennedy and Gemma Correll (Walker); Football Season 2: Where Football Saves the World by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton and Spike Gerrell (Walker).