Youngsters are being asked to cast their votes in the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies) - book reviews -

The Lollies Shortlist
The Lollies Shortlist

It’s always good to have the last laugh… so make your mark and get voting for your favourite guffawingly-good book!

Cast your votes for the laughter awards

By Pam Norfolk

It’s always good to have the last laugh… so make your mark and get voting for your favourite guffawingly-good book!

Youngsters are being asked to cast their votes in the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards now in their fourth 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.

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, or via the Lollies PopJam channel. The winning books will be announced in early 2020.

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. Funny books are so important because they draw you through, and you have a wonderful time and feel good. What could be better than that?’

Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Alison Leach, founder of BooksForTopics and a primary teacher, Scott Evans, a primary school teacher and blogger, Andria Zafirakou, winner of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2018, as well as 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.

The Lollies, sponsored by Happy Monkey Smoothies, are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds.

The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Baby’s First Bank Heist

Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Forget notorious crime pair Bonnie and Clyde and meet the cutest crook on the block… Baby Frank!

Baby Frank, the world’s most unlikely bank robber who masterminds his very own heist, is the brainchild of exciting new picture book partnership Stephen Collins, cartoonist in Guardian Weekend magazine, and Jim Whalley, a debut author who knows how to put rhyme into comedy romps.

Baby Frank’s parents say that he can’t have a pet. Pets are for older kids, be happy with your teddy, and they cost too much to keep, they say, which leaves Baby Frank with a big problem because he really wants a pet. What’s a baby to do... rob a bank, of course! But will money buy Baby Frank the fluffy pet he so desperately wants?

Baby’s First Bank Heist is a joy from first page to last as Whalley’s addictive rhymes – packed to the nursery rafters with wit and playful humour – blend seamlessly with Collins’ richly detailed and expressive illustrations.

An ‘arresting’ story guaranteed to capture the hearts, and tickle the funny bones, of readers young and not-so-young!

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


Matt Carr

She’s the talk of the web… say hello to tiny arachnid and super sleuth Spyder, complete with her code name 008 (legs)!

Matt Carr, a graphic designer, and author-illustrator of the multi-award-winning debut picture book Superbat, has been busy spinning a new verbal and visual masterpiece that is mission accomplished when it comes to making everyone laugh.

Spyder is the world’s smallest agent and she lives in the loft (sorry, penthouse flat!) at little Tom Webster’s house at Number 7 Fleming Road. It’s not easy being a super special secret agent when you’re only as big as a pin badge but when Tom’s birthday cake is under threat from party gatecrasher Mr Bottle the Bluebottle, Spyder is ordered to jump into action. It’s time to pack the spy-kit with binoculars, a top-secret laser pen and... a banana. Will Spyder save the day, and the party?

There’s never a dull moment in this thrills and spills adventure as Spyder swings into action in a race against the clock. Expect giggles galore and comedy capers, enjoy learning some fascinating spider facts in Carr’s ‘website’ at the end of the book, and take a peep at a gallery of equipment needed to be a web star!

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

You’re Called What?

Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson

A Bone-Eating Snot Flower Worm… now there’s a name to conjure with!

And that is just what the master of comedy and tongue-twisting titan, Kes Gray, does with a parade of the funniest, most outrageous and most hilarious real-life creatures in a picture book that by any other name would still sound very, very silly.

Little ones (and their parents!) will be laughing out loud as they meet the outlandish cast of characters in award-winning author Gray and top-class illustrator Nikki Dyson’s eye-catching romp starring real animals with very unusual names.

It’s just an ordinary day in the Ministry of Silly Animal Names office where all of their clients have one thing in common… they all desperately want to change their names. Waiting in line, this parade of delightfully bizarre creatures have nothing to do but bemoan their unfortunate names until they meet other creatures whose names are even sillier than theirs.

From the Blue-Footed Booby and the Fried Egg Jellyfish to the Tasselled Wobbegong and the Monkeyface Prickleback, all the family will delight at the line-up of brilliantly offbeat real-life animals which each take a turn at the name-changing counter.

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)

Ten Fat Sausages

Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman

There are plenty of mouth-watering giggles to savour in a picture book fry-up from top team Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman.

Author Robinson cooks up a tasty treat featuring a panful of feisty frankfurters in a rhyming, raucous story of great escapes that will have every member of the family coming back for more.

Ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan… decide to escape, if they can! Get your bread rolls on standby as the very silly sausages decide that instead of going Pop and Bang in the pan, they will break free and try their luck outside the pan. Youngsters will love following each sausage as it decides to make a run for it through the kitchen. Will they succeed or will the cat, blender, plughole or fan prove their downfall?

Robinson’s wickedly ruthless humour – with a jaunty refrain encouraging little ones to join in the fun – is the perfect match for Freeman’s anarchic illustrations as this mirth-filled tale wends its way from frying pan to hard-bitten dénouement. Mercilessly funny and deliciously clever!

(Andersen Press, paperback, £6.99)

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

The Nothing to See Here Hotel

Steven Butler and Steven Lenton

You can check out any time you like from The Nothing to See Here Hotel, but you can never leave without laughing!

Welcome to an unforgettable hotel, an amazing place for magical creatures and a place where weird is normal for fun-loving troll boy Frankie Banister and his truly extraordinary parents.

Frankie’s outrageously funny and madcap adventures are the first course of a deliciously offbeat series from inventive author Steven Butler and illustrator extraordinaire Steven Lenton who together bring to life a cast of the wackiest characters imaginable.

From trolls, goblins and harpies to witches, puddle-nymphs and bogrunts, the guests at The Nothing to See Here Hotel are a gruesome bunch and their hilarious antics will have youngsters begging mums and dads to make an immediate booking!

Frankie’s hotel is the best secret holiday destination for magical creatures in the whole of England which makes for the strangest guest list. So when a goblin messenger arrives at the hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to have their work cut out with the demanding prince, especially when it turns out he has a secret.

Expect room service with a difference as you enter through the doors of a wonderfully imagined and creative world in which humour, adventure and the totally bizarre play leading roles!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure

Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Some books have heroes you never expect to meet…

Take Kevin, for example, he’s a biscuit-loving, tiny winged, roly-poly flying pony who crashes into a tower block balcony and makes friends with an unsuspecting boy called Max. Max wants adventures and he’s certainly got some now!

The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure is the first brilliant book in a new series from one of the top teams in children’s books… Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, creators of best-loved books like Cakes in Space and Oliver and the Seawigs.

Max is a young boy living in an ordinary tower block in Bumbleford. He longs for adventure in his life and then one day, doof, a flying pony called Kevin crashes into the balcony outside his flat, blown in by a magical storm. The storm causes a huge flood and soon Bumbleford is submerged by water and besieged by creatures (naughty sea monkeys ahoy-eep, eep!). Luckily for the town, Max has a flying pony to come to the rescue, and luckily for Kevin, he has a new, quick-thinking best friend and a constant supply of his favourite thing… biscuits. Together Max and Kevin are ready to embark on many wild adventures!

Reeve delivers a fantastically funny, slapstick and yet warm and reassuring story about friendship and the spirit of adventure, all brought to glorious life by McIntyre’s richly detailed, two-colour illustrations.

Beautifully produced and ideal for reluctant readers, this is humour with a big heart.

(Oxford University Press, hardback, 8.99)

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser

Sophy Henn

Seven-year-old Jeanie’s granny is simply adorable, not because she’s good but because she’s so terribly bad!

The multi-talented author and illustrator Sophy Henn is on her wickedly best form in the first book of a truly laugh-out-loud series starring a misbehaving nana who turns the tables on all those classic portrayals of grannies as cuddly, cosy, jumper-knitting oldies.

With three stories in one book, each one brimming with mischief and mayhem, and a fabulous gallery of two-tone illustrations throughout, this is a perfectly pitched read for 6-8 year olds.

Jeanie has two grandmas… one is Granny Rose who smells of talc and flowers, and the other is called Bad Nana and she has walking stick with her at all times, but not necessarily for walking purposes. Ban Nana is not bad like a vampire or a gangster or anything, more like… up to no good. Sometimes she can be a bit embarrassing but most of the time she’s really fun, especially when she gets Jeanie involved in her mischievous schemes. Everyone says she’s old enough to know better… but she doesn’t seem to care one bit. In fact, Jeanie thinks she might quite like it!

Told through the eyes of seven-and-threequarters-year-old Jeanie in a vernacular that will resonate with in-betweenies , Bad Nana’s naughty but hilarious exploits will shock, dismay and make all the family (even grannies!) double up with laughter.

(HarperCollins Children’s Books, hardback, £8.99)

The World’s Worst Children 3

David Walliams and Tony Ross

If you thought your youngsters were naughty, steel yourself for ten hilarious and horrendous stories about the absolutely worst children ever!

What child could resist dipping into this compelling compendium of revolting boys and horrid girls, created to delight and dismay us all by the phenomenal number-one bestselling author David Walliams.

Billed as fiendishly funny short stories, Walliams’ third coruscating collection is illustrated in glorious and gruesome colour by artist genius, Tony Ross, and comes with a warning (mainly for parents!) that it is read at your peril.

From ten-year old Hank and his endless pranks on his poor, long-suffering family, and Boastful Barnabas who is so big-headed he might just explode, to Tandy and her titanic tantrums, and wasp-tongued Walter who hurts people with his stinging insults, this latest compendium of tiny terrors is the perfect gift for mischievous, fun-loving youngsters.

Written with Walliams’ genius eye for comedy and Ross’s amazing gift for visual anarchy, there are laugh-out-loud moments on every page!

(HarperCollins Children’s Books, hardback, £14.99)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds:

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson (Bloomsbury)

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury)

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, and illustrated by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury)

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge (Oxford University Press)