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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Quiz Question: Imperative That I Know!

All right, folks. I need to poll you. I need you to be honest with me. I need you to answer the following question:

Who is the funniest female author of children’s literature?

Take some time.  Think about it.  I’m talking laugh-out-loud funny.  Go!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Sheesh, who needs to think about it? The title is currently tied between Ursula Vernon and Melanie Watt. Obviously!

  2. Sara Pennypacker?

  3. Going with Barbara Park of Junie B. fame, but it’s her middle grades (some of which I don’t think are in print anymore?) that immediately jumped to mind. They are some serious laugh out loud funny. Including Mick Harte Was Here (even though it’s about dealing with the death of a sibling, in other words one moment you are roaring with laughter, the next…crying) Maxie, Rosie and Earl…Partners in Grime? I laugh just thinking about it and all her other titles. Um, yeah. That was the long answer.

  4. Mini Grey

    Has a line funnier than “Traction Man is guarding some toast.” ever been written in a picture book?

  5. I know she’s out of style at this point, but Paula Danziger always cracked me up. Melanie Watt is great, I love Chester!

  6. Jaclyn Moriarty has a 100% success rate of making me laugh out loud. But is she too YA for the purposes of this post?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Actually YA is good too, since I’m not as familiar with it. Keep ’em coming, guys!

  7. The late Coleen Salley or Barbara Park. (Seriously, have you read SKINNYBONES?)

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Mrs. Wrack’s mother…had been a mermaid: a proper one who lived on a rock and combed her hair and sang. But sailors had never been lured to their doom by her, partly because she looked like the back of a bus…” WHICH WITCH

    “…on the headboard of her enormous bed were carvings of people in helmets trampling on other people whose helmets had come off.” THE STAR OF KAZAN

    –Eva Ibbotson, of course. She’s not just funny, but she’s very funny indeed.

  9. I vote for Lisa Yee–I think her books are hilarious!

  10. Cronin! Click, Clack, Moo! Diary of a Worm:

    “Your rear end still looks like your face!”

  11. Yikes, what a question! Among everything else, J.K. Rowling is of course very funny. As are Ursula Vernon and Jennifer Holm.

  12. Hmm…I think that Kate Decamillo can be very funny. (Come on — that Guys Read video — gotta admit she did a good job there.) THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX has loads of sardonic asides. But the female kid writer who most recently had me in tears of laughter was Lynn Rae Perkins on my first (and, for that matter, second) reading of AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. Deadpan humor isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but it is mine. From my NYTBR review (

    For all its introspection, this is a funny book. Having lost one of his hiking boots while riding a freight train into town, Ry contemplates his options at the Salvation Army. “So far, his choice was between an old man’s dress shoes, reddish brown; crinkly white business-lizard loafers with a gold chain on one but missing from the other; and pull-on ankle-high boots of scuffed black suede with triangular elastic inserts on the sides.” Shortly thereafter, wearing the white loafers with tube socks, he reflects: “It looked as if a lawn-mower-riding failed gambler in shorts with a potbelly should be attached to his legs.”

    I rest my case.

  13. I love Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine books, but Lenor Look is not to be overlooked, and when it comes to dogs, Linda Bailey’s Stanley books are too funny.

  14. And I imagine Ry as Jesse Eisenberg or Michael Cera in their teen days.

  15. E. Nesbit isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but her books do put a smile on my face:

    “…the land flourished under the rule of the giant’s wife, a most worthy woman, whose only fault was that she was too ready to trust boys.” – THE OLD NURSERY STORIES

  16. Ooh, Lenore Look is a good choice.

  17. I’ve got to agree with Doreen Cronin for consistently funny in picture books. Kate Klise is is my pick for older readers.

  18. Bibliopinions says:

    Kate DiCamillo — Your Question for Author Here with Scieszka is hilarious! — and Laurie Keller — gotta love Arnie the Donut.

  19. Kathleen Krull says:

    Barbara Park’s middle-grade novels are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (when she’s not making you cry), & I second the motion for Paula Danziger. But for causing-red-faced-embarrassment-from-snorting-in-a-public-place (man or woman), I vote for Louise Rennison “Angus, Thongs, etc.” and her others – should come with a warning label to read in private.

  20. How about Kate Coombs?

  21. British YA author Grace Dent makes me positively _howl_ with laughter.

  22. Don’t forget about Barbara Robinson!

  23. Damn, I wanted to be the first to say Lenore Look. The class picture sceene in the last Alvin book had me laughting so loud, the other people in the room, (treadmill stable at the gym) wanted to call in mental health services.

  24. OH and kudos to Monica for the shoe sceene from AS EASY AS FALLING. Perkins can get my vote as well.

  25. Helen Cresswell. I found Absolute Zero, especially, to be hilarious when I first read it in middle school and still found it great as an adult. The first several books in the Bagthorpe saga are great; nobody seems to be reading her anymore, though.

  26. Jennifer in GA says:

    Lenore Look is a good choice. Jeanne Birdsall always makes me laugh. Lois Lowry has a great track record of being very funny (Anastasia, The Willoughbys). Paula Danziger, yes. J.K. Rowling, absolutely! Doreen Cronin. Melanie Watt. Marla Frazee.

  27. Pretty sad selection, but why? I would have to go all the way back to Barbara Robinson (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever) or Judy Blume.

    I think female authors’ are laugh out loud funny writing for adults, but not for kids.

  28. Sam Bloom says:

    Man, I think most everyone mentioned my choices! Lynne Rae Perkins, definitely – As Easy… is seriously hilarious. Jennifer Holm, definitely – I submit the first paragraph of Turtle in Paradise as proof. Lenore Look is a good pick. Let’s not forget Beverly Cleary – the Ramona books have some pretty classic moments, I must say!

  29. Kathleen O'Meara says:

    How about Judy Blume? Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing made me howl.

  30. I was going to add Beverly Cleary. I also think Hilary McKay is pretty funny. If we’re talking picture books, the author of Skippyjon Jones, whose name I’m blanking on. Judy something, it starts with an S. And Cronin, of course.

  31. I’ll second the motion for E Nesbit and also put in a word for Diana Wynne Jones. Both are British and bone dry.

  32. Jan Thomas! Rhyming Dust Bunnies cannot be beat.

  33. Mini Grey (Traction Man) and Peggy Rathmann (Goodnight Gorilla and of course Officer Buckle and Gloria)!

  34. Are we talking about which women have written the funniest books, or female authors who are just funny in and of themselves? ‘Cause Patricia Polaccio may not write “funny” books, but she’s a darn laugh riot in person. (Ditto Shannon Hale.)

    As for funny writing, I second the motion on Helen Cressewell (oh oh oh — Absolute Zero is rather spectacular) and would also like to nominate Lois Lowry (esp. the Anastasia Krupnik novels).

  35. Barbara Robinson
    Doreen Cronin
    Melanie Watt
    Sara Pennypacker
    Marla Frazee

  36. Lenore Look for chapter books. Or maybe Lisa Yee. And I’ll agree with Anon. about Eva Ibbotson for more subtle humor. For picture books, Mini Grey. YA – Grace Dent (Erin is right!)

  37. Lisa Yee (her blog alone kills me) and Mini Grey for the British vote.

  38. I cannot believe no one has mentioned a) Libba Bray or b) Maureen Johnson. (And I second/third/eleventh Birdsall, Pennypacker, Rennison, Look, and Lowry.)

  39. And OMG — Meg Cabot! Duh. By this point she’s retelling some of her own jokes, but for earnest hilarity, she’s a master.

  40. Lisa Yee! Not only are her books funny, but so is her blog!

  41. Meg Cabot came immediately to my mind. But I saw someone mention Lenore Look and Alvin Ho was a very very funny book.

  42. Polly Horvath! The Trolls had me chortling, tears streaming down my face.

  43. Eti Berland says:

    I would definitely pick Esme Raji Codell as one funny children’s writer and Lisa Mantchev and Libba Bray for YA writers

  44. Another vote for Esme Raji Codell. And… I’m not really allowed to say Ursula Nordstrom, am I, since I’ve never read her one children’s book (has anybody?)? OK then, I’ll make it a point to check out all of the above authors I haven’t gotten to yet.

  45. Doreen Cronin and Melanie Watt

  46. Shannon Hale, who I think has actually done stand-up. Every time I hear her speak, I laugh out loud. That was the criteria, right?

  47. For middle graders, Maryrose Wood’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is a scream. Also Kate Jaimet’s Dunces Anonymous, which reads like a cross between Gordon Korman and P G Wodehouse. On the YA side, Eileen Cook’s Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood had me laughing out loud from the very first page.

  48. Judith Viorst! Forget the kids… Viorst’s poetry books are for women and are funny, funny, funny! The ring of truth is what makes anything funny and Viorst’s poetic commentary on each decade of her life are worth the read. I heard her read aloud from “Forever Fifty” when I was still in my 20s but it made me laugh until I cried. Now she has “Unexpectedly Eighty: and other adaptations”; I look forward to laughing and learning again from this literary elder sister.

  49. SANDRA BOYNTON. I still always laugh at Moo, Baa, La La La

  50. Helen Cresswell! And you can drop the “female” qualifier. The Bagthorpes exactly configured for my 7th grade humor requirements.

    Of current authors, don’t overlook newcomer Amy Ignatow!!!

  51. My students love Mélanie Watt and Irene Punt.

  52. Linda Brown says:

    YA – Rosemary Clement-Moore
    Middle grade – Jennifer Holm
    Picture book – Judy Schachner

  53. Libba Bray. The woman knows her cows.

  54. Eva Ibbotson!! Betty MacDonald!!

  55. My students thought Sharon Creech’s The Unfinished Angel was one of the funniest books we read. Hilarious and tender. Whenever I read it raucous laughter ensued.

  56. My first choice would be Doreen Cronin too, but how about Janet Stevens? “The Great Fuzz Frenzy”, “Tops & Bottoms”?

    Linda Bailey’s “Stanley’s Party” is very funny!

    “Surviving Brick Johnson” by Laurie Myers is very funny too!

  57. Aah, Doreen Cronin. Love those diaries!

  58. Diana Wynne Jones hands down. Her stories never cease to make me laugh till my ribs hurt.

  59. I think that Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel books are hilarious!

  60. Oh, Amy Ignatow! She is so very funny!

  61. Someone who’s never been given her due—Randall Platt. Her HELLIE JONDOE is brilliant and laugh out loud funny.

  62. Jennifer in GA says:

    Oh my gosh! How I forget SANDRA BOYNTON??!???!

  63. Sue Rokos says:

    Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine novels is chuckle out loud followed by giggles.

  64. Doreen Cronin, Barbara Park, Judy Blume…and two oldies, Peggy Parrish and Beverly Cleary

  65. Andrea Beaty and Meg Cabot, although I also have round trip tickets on the Ursula Vernon Express and the Jenni Holm Horsecart, not to mention the Rosemary Clement-Moore Jeep Tour of Southeast Texas (Wear Your Seatbelt).

  66. I have to agree with Helen Cresswell! The Bagthorpe books still make me tear up with laughter.

  67. Lois Lowry… still haven’t read anything that made me giggle as hard as when Anastasia mails the dog poop but brings the letter back home. Except maybe when she’s asking a bust of Freud for pyschological help.

  68. In reply to Carin above: yes, I know several people who consider The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom to be one of their childhood favorites, and I believe it continues in print.

    Authors: Lenore Look, Lois Lowry (for Anastasia, and my all-time favorite Lowry book, The One Hundredth Thing About Caroline), Beverly Cleary, Ellen Raskin, Carol Ryrie Brink.

  69. Children’s author? So that gets rid of Libba Bray? Unless you do NOT mean funny in the pages of the stuff they write and just mean FUNNY? Maybe the same problem exists for THWONK and Joan Bauer? For the very young you just did a video feature on Boynton. I don’t know how well they hold up, but I can remember many happy hours laughing at Henry and Ribsy and Ramona (and various mice on motorcycles). My kids laughed quite a lot over the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle stories (MacDonald) and my first graders howl when they hear Amelia Bedelia (Parrish) and Diary of a Spider (Cronin).

  70. Barbara Robinson (Best Christmas Pageant Ever) and E.L. Konigsburg….all her titles have humor, but I’d single out About the B’nai Bagles in particular.

  71. Margie Palatini!

  72. Liza- YES! Margie! How could I forget her!!?! Stinky Smelly Feet is THE best!

  73. wow can’t believe i forgot about Peggy Parrish. I used to laugh my face off reading Amelia Bedelia. Now I hold back a mixture of laughter and tears as I watch my english language learning students sit down and read an Amelia Bedelia book from cover to cover and not once crack a smile. Having to explain to a student what “dressing a turkey” or dusting the furniture actually means takes all the fun out of the joke.

  74. Well, I guess I can add my vote to all the people who said Melanie Watt already, because that was the first one who popped into my head, and I said to myself, “Well no, I’ll have to think about it longer,” but I guess since I was far from the only one who came to that conclusion then my gut instinct must be the good one.

    And for YA I’ll second the person who said Jaclyn Moriarty, because the more I tell myself “It’s not THAT FUNNY, stop laughing out loud like a lunatic,” the louder and less controllably I laugh.

    So that leaves middle grade… hmm. Maybe I’ll second or third or whatever Lisa Yee.

  75. Laurie Keller, FTW.

  76. E. Lockhart’s YA books always makes me laugh out loud. Literally.

  77. I like Polly Horvath. Not The Canning Season or My One Hundred Adventures, but everything else she’s written is hilarious.

  78. For children: I second (third) the Sandra Boynton nomination. Also, Emily Jenkins’ (aka “E. Lockhart”) That New Animal.

    For young adults: Maureen Johnson, although I think she’s more witty than laugh-out-loud.

  79. Also, a co-worker of mine recommends Raskin’s The Tattooed Potato & Other Clues.

  80. Kristi Hazelrigg says:

    Margie Palatini!

  81. Chris in NY says:

    Depends on what age- but I say Helen Cresswell or Hilary McKay (Exile series).

  82. Denis Guignier says:

    It’s Betsy Bird!
    I love this vidéos and I dont know the américan female writers for children.

  83. Amy Lappin says:

    So many terrific authors have been mentioned. I think Mini Grey should be included in this group. Just thinking of Traction Man in his grandma-knit suit makes me laugh.

  84. I polled my 7th and 8th graders this morning. Judy Blume and Barbara Park (for Junie B. Jones) got several call-outs each; Cornelia Funke, Judy Schachner one each. My most prolific reader named Beverly Cleary. My choice is Lois Lowry for what Anastasia almost named her brother, the Willoughbys, and her final decision comments in the first Battle of the Kids Books.

  85. I third or fourth Diana Wynne Jones

  86. Doreen Cronin all the way. Her picture books are funny for both kids and parents. Duck for President continues to make me giggle!

  87. Without a doubt – Phyllis Reynold Naylor and the Alice books!

  88. Silvey’s Almanac entry for today reminded me: Maud Hart Lovelace! The Betsy Tacy series isn’t exactly a laugh riot but there are many humorous moments.

  89. duh…Jan Thomas…

  90. too hard to call it but for me it’s between Diana Wynne Jones and Eva Ibbotson

  91. Linda Urban says:

    Lisa Yee
    Sarah Pennypacker
    Beverly Cleary
    Barbara Robinson
    Laurie Keller
    Sue Stauffacher

    I don’t have to pick just one, right?

  92. Barbara Park for Junie B. Jones books. LOL funny.

  93. Mary Amato in her Riot Brothers books. I think she nails laugh-out-loud boy humor.

  94. Oh, Lisa Yee is hilarious! And Diana Wynne Jones doesn’t always make me laugh out loud, but she consistently brings dead-on humor to everything she writes.

  95. Margie Palatini without a doubt!

  96. Don’t forget Raina Telgemeier!

  97. I like Amy Krouse Rosenthal. “Duck Rabbit” ? “Spoon” ? classic. and clever.

  98. I always liked Helen Cresswell, who I see on here already. And another favorite who always made me laugh was Ruth Chrisman Gannett.

  99. Gail Gauthier – My Life Among the Aliens has been a smash hit for my Grade 3s.

  100. Sara Pennypacker. Jennifer Holm. Melanie Watt. Jan Thomas.

  101. Faves from the past year’s reading: Maryrose Wood, Mélanie Watt, Ashley Spires, Laurel Snyder, Jaclyn Moriarty, E. Lockhart, Diana Wynne Jones, Lynne Jonell, Emily Jenkins, Emily Gravett, Kate DiCamillo, Rachel Cohn, Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, Sandra Boynton, Andrea Beaty, Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

    Sorry, the list is so long, but I really like funny writers.