“Finding the Funny” by Jennifer Buchet + PB Critique Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to feature children’s book author Jennifer Buchet on Frog on a Blog today! Her book Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma is just so clever and is gorgeously illustrated by Cassie Chancy. When I spoke with Jennifer about writing a guest post, she suggested sharing how she was able to turn a notorious villain into a funny character, and I absolutely loved that idea. If you’re a picture book writer, you’re sure to find her story illuminating. Be sure to read to the end for information about winning a picture book manuscript or query critique. Take it away, Jennifer!

When I drafted my first picture book, Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma, I faced a huge challenge, Not just acing the pacing, not just perfecting the word count, but how do I NOT scare away my audience when writing about one of the most famous villains in history!

The answer: I try to make them laugh!

Let’s face it. Kids dig humor. Adults dig humor, too! People love to laugh and bonus, it’s good for you!

When it comes to writing picture books, humor can be a key element both for your intended audience (the littles) and their readers (the adults—after all, you want them to enjoy reading your book again and again and again!) And when kids laugh, we all laugh!

The original Medusa is known for being a hideous, horrendous villain, turning everyone to stone. I wanted my readers to laugh, not exactly cry with each page turn! So I had to turn my story ideas around and look at different angles and possibilities.

Right away I decided to make my main character, Little Medusa, a descendant of the original mythological meanie. This allowed me a lot more wriggle—and giggle—room.

Since I’m not a natural at writing humor, I read a lot of humorous mentor texts. I also researched how to craft funny kidlit. There are so many varieties of funny, it’s like trying to choose one flavor of ice cream out of forty drool-worthy flavors! There’s fun with fear, gross funny, sarcasm and wit, visual humor, parodies, and etc. But which way was right for me?

I also had to choose what role humor would play in my story. A well-timed laugh? An insightful character glimpse? Moving the arc forward? I wanted my audience to root for Little Medusa, to laugh with her, not always at her.

So I placed her in situations that not only revealed humorous physical challenges (the outer loop of the story), but also situations that exposed emotional conflicts (the inner tale).

The result of all this hard work? I gave Little Medusa a massive pythonic problem! A Gorgon girl who loves snakes, but can’t stand having them slither through her hair. Once she receives her very first serpentine friend, she begins questioning if she really wants to turn people to stone with a stare! Using her imagination, heart and smarts, Little Medusa does her very best to please her family, her snake and herself.

Bringing humor into your writing isn’t always easy, nor is it always fun at first! It’s actually a lot of hard work. But if you do your research and try different styles, you just may find that perfect punchline!

Awesome! Thanks so much, Jennifer! Folks, if you haven’t yet read Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma, I encourage you to look for it. You won’t be disappointed.

Giveaway Alert!

Jennifer is kindly offering a free picture book manuscript critique up to 600 words (non-rhyming) or a query critique. To be eligible to win, please comment below, and share this blog on social media, tagging both Jennifer and myself, to earn extra chances. I will choose a winner at random on July 31. Good luck!

Jennifer Buchet is an award-winning author and pre-kindergarten educator. She is a feature contributor for Faces magazine while also creating new picture books and chapter books.

An easy way to support an author is to leave Book Reviews and ask your Local Library to carry their books! Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma is available for purchase at: Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

You can swap tales and puns with Jennifer here: