It's difficult to write about comic fiction partly because it's hard to encapsulate in just a sentence ort two the great comic twists and turns that an accomplished humourist weaves to make his readers smile, grin, chuckle and burst out with the rich ring of delighted and gleeful laughter. And you don't want to give away the best jokes either. But there is plenty of great humorous fiction being written and this spring, three notable offerings by Mary Borsky, Ken Roberts and Polly Horvath.
Both Benny Bensky and the Perogy Palace and Thumb in a Box are for middle readers and will appeal with their short snappy action-packed pacing and their outrageous sense of fun. Mary Borsky's first fiction chronicles the hi-jinks of Benny Bensky, pooch extraordinaire. Extraordinary trouble that is. If he isn't digging up flower pots or chasing the neighbour's cat through her garden, he's munching on something that he should not be eating from right off the sidewalk like French fries that someone has dropped or an ice cream cone. Things get so bad that the Benskys have to send Benny to dog obedience school or else. And the Benskys have their own problem ū their fabulous cafT, The Perogy Palace, is suddenly going down the tubesū nobody wants to eat their once-delicious tasting perogies, not even Benny who eats just about anything. Young readers will delight in Benny's antics and eagerly be absorbed by the mystery of the Perogy Palace ū and wait for another Benny Bensky mystery to 'come to a local bookstore near you!'
Ken Robert takes young readers into a sleepy little village in British Columbia, New Auckland, where the strangest things seem to be happen. Where else would you find a full-sized lion named Muriel; a world-famous artist whose greatest work is a basketball circle jump in the middle of the town community center, a village with no roads or a box containing the roving thumb of Little Charlie Semanov? Leon Mazzei is constantly discovering new and wonderful things about the place that he and his father now call home. But the best is yet to come because New Auckland is just about to get its very first fire truck courtesy of the local member of Parliament for the Northwest Coast. And to accommodate the new fire truck, New Auckland is also getting a new road and a fire station too! As Leon knows nothing is ever as it seems in New Auckland and before the fun is done, the community is going to turn all these plans upside down and backwards too and young readers will giggle with glee as they join Leon in the uproarious antics that fill The Thumb in the Box.
Polly Horvath might be best known for her book, The Trolls, which was a National Book Award finalist, but she's an old hand at comic fiction. Her latest offering, Everything on a Waffle is a hilarious look at small-town life on the West Coast, told from the perspective of 11-year-old Primrose Square who lives in Coal Harbour, British Columbia and who has hair "the colour of carrots in an apricot glazeąskin fair and clear where isn't freckled, and eyes like summer storms" and who might, or might not, be an orphan. Primrose's parents seem to have been lost at sea and, declared an orphan by Coal Harbour, she's been put in the care of her Uncle Jack, a wheeler-dealer real estate salesman who wants to bring up the tone of the Primrose's hometown. Living with Uncle Jack isn't always easy but Primrose can always take refuge in her friend Miss Bowzer's restaurant, The Girl on the Red Swing, where everything is served on a waffle ū ham and eggs, steak, lasagna and even fish and chips are all served on a waffle ū and where Primrose is learning to cook. Horvath uses comic vignettes to tell Primrose's story and a wonderful cast of delightfully eccentric characters from Miss Perfidy, one of the world's most temperamental babysitters, to husband-hunter Miss Honeycut, Primrose's guidance counselor, who is constantly interfering and upsetting Primrose's life. And Everything on a Waffle is full of some wonderful recipes too including, as you'd expect, a great recipes for waffles. ņ