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*Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy* by Leonard S. Marcus- young readers book review
 
Also by Leonard S. Marcus:

A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal
Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy
by Leonard S. Marcus
Ages 10+ 224 pages Candlewick October 2009 Hardcover    

The skill of interviewing an author is something that has long fascinated me. Some interviews are so brilliant that I feel like I personally know the writer after a few short pages of questions. Some, unfortunately, are not so brilliant, with unoriginal questions (ĎWhat was your favorite book as a child? Where do you get your inspiration from?í) from an interviewer who is clearly doing nothing more than merely going through the motions.

Leonard S. Marcus, Iím pleased to report, is an interviewer of the highest standard and has compiled a brilliant book that gives a wonderful insight into the world of comedy writing.

Comedy isnít easy to write by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Iíd say one of the hardest things to do as a writer is to reach through the page and make your audience laugh out loud. However, each of the writers Marcus selected for Funny Business is a master of their craft and true talent when it comes to comedy.

There are many stars of the writing world in this book - Judy Blume, Anne Fine and Dick King-Smith, for example - but Leonard S. Marcus shines just as brilliantly with his excellently thought-out questions and detailed knowledge of each writer. Heís done his research with this one, he really has. His questions are intelligent and thought-provoking, and he lets the interviewees talk as much or as little as they want to. He knows his subjects inside out; because of this, every interview is an absolute joy to read.

What Marcus does that is so great is take the obvious questions writers have been asked hundreds of times and turn them on their head. When interviewing Judy Blume, he doesnít ask how much fan mail she receives; he asks how the fan mail she receives has changed over the years. When talking to Carl Hiaasen, he doesnít ask who the inspiration for Mullet Fingers was; he comes right out with it and asks if the character is based on Hiassenís childhood friend who committed suicide at seventeen.

Funny Business isnít just about the interviews either. There are photographs, childhood stories, manuscripts with edits scrawled all over them, and a list of Marcusís top picks of each authorís work. These additions help make this book so much more than merely a collection of interviews.

Iíd recommend Funny Business to anybody interested in getting to know the geniuses behind their favorite childhood books. I said at the beginning of this review that I come away from a good interview feeling like Iím a personal friend of the writer; it is a testament to Leonard S. Marcusís talent that, by the end of this book, I felt like a personal friend of thirteen of the worldís greatest comedy writers.
 
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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