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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Finding the Funny: The Newbery Award and Various Works of Hilarity

Do funny books get short shrift when award season comes ah-knockin’?  It’s not a ridiculous notion.  After all, the Oscars are notorious for consistently promoting and lauding saddy sad performances and films over their funnier contemporaries.  So I took a gander at some of the recent winners of the Newbery Award (and Honors) and determined that while humor isn’t the most lauded quality in “distinguished” works of children’s literature, neither is it a true detriment.  Some funny winners that come immediately to mind might include:

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
  • Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
  • Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie B. Tolan
  • Everything On a Waffle by Polly Horvath
  • Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos
  • A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

Naturally there are more out there that I’m not thinking of.  There’s also the fact that humor is naturally subjective.  While one person might find Catherine Called Birdy a hoot, another might prefer the works of Jack Gantos.  Whatever the case, I’m happy to see such a strong showing and hope to high heaven we get a little more of this in the future.

Note: If someone wants to ascribe dates to these books, we could try to work up some kind of algorithm that determines whether humor has been lauded more within one particular time span or another.

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. The Wednesday Wars!

  2. Bridget Rieth says:

    And whether or not is it reflective/predictive of the state of the economy.

  3. Barbara Moon says:

    Yolanda’s Genius


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