The serious side of funny books, by Penny Dreadful author Joanna Nadin

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Joanna Nadin

As a child, I was rarely caught in a kerfuffle or a complete catastrophe, and much less a horrible hoo-haa. I was all too busy with my head buried in a book to adopt stray dogs or shave off my cousin’s hair. But, like Penny, I had a curious and stubborn streak, and my defiance manifested itself in an equally determined, but less messy manner, in the form of my reading material. Because instead of The Secret Garden or Anne of Green Gables, the books I devoured, and still hail as classics, had one thing in common: they were funny. I read Eric Morecambe’s The Reluctant Vampire amongst the shelves in the town library to avoid my mother’s exasperation at me bringing it home for yet another week. As a fifteen-year-old my sobs of laughter betrayed the fact that inside my O level copy of Silas Marner I was reading George’s Marvelous Medicine for the umpteenth time. Because to me, funny books have always mattered as much as the serious ones – managing to tackle issues with humour, and helping otherwise reluctant readers to realize the value of books. And possibly preventing us from otherwise releasing the school goat to its ultimate freedom in the process too.

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Penny Dreadful and the Horrible Hoo-haa by Joanna Nadin is out now, and available to buy from Hive right here

And happy 40th birthday to Usborne Publishing, the publishers of the Penny Dreadfulseries. You can see their top hundred best titles right here on our dedicated page.

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