Thursday, August 22, 2019

Looking For Middle Grade Humor

I have done some reading this summer, both before and after getting sick, and now I tell people about it. I picked up Slacker by Gordan Korman because I was looking for middle grade
humor, something I write, myself. Reading it was part of my effort to read to support my goals or my work.

A lot of childlit humor isn't very funny. I've seen the same with with some adult books marketed as humor. Some of them aren't funny at all. Some of them involve a series of awkward jokes. I don't know what's going on here. The authors, agents, and editors involved don't seem to understand situational humor or timing. Why do they even want to produce humor writing?

Gordan Korman is a reliable humor writer. He definitely understand how to recognize a situation that has the potential for humor, and he knows how to work it. In Slacker, he combines humor with an improving childlit story about the benefits of doing good.

Cameron Boxer is serious about only one thing, his lifestyle, which he describes games. His only interest is playing them and preparing to play them in a tournament called Rule the World. Mom and Dad are not fans of this plan. They want to see him develop an interest that's not video games. " can be anything you want, so long as it involves real human beings and it doesn't happen on a screen."

Cam doesn't have any desire to do anything even remotely like that. But this clever slacker has to get his parents off his back so he can concentrate on training for Rule the World. He comes up with a scheme to create a "shell" school club for which he will serve as president. It sounds plenty impressive for the folks, but no one will notice it or join, because his hacker buddy is just going to slip it onto the school website that no one reads. Mom and Dad will think he'll be doing something, but he won't. His gaming time will be protected.

Yeah, everything goes wrong.

We're not talking gut-busting, roll-on-the-floor humor here, but wry, subtle stuff that comes organically out of the situation. The lessons on saving animals, the town, and doing good teeter into preaching at some points, but the commitment to Cam's character and the original situation make it palatable.

A second Slacker novel, Level 13, was published in June. 


Ms. Yingling said...

I really liked Dan Richards' Stu Truly. My students have been enjoying it as well. And Korman is always great.

Gail Gauthier said...

I had not heard of Stu Truly, but I just looked it up. I'll look for that.