Monday, 7 February 2022

Follow the pun! by Jane Clarke

I’ve never been able to resist a groan-making pun, and generally manage to insert a few in each picture book manuscript I write. They are almost invariably removed by editors because puns don’t work when translated into another language. For that reason, you can’t really build a picture book around a pun, but they might lead you to the story.


For example, when the publishers requested a frog as the character in the third book in a recent picture book series gloriously illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, the idea for the story (about a nervous frog leaping away from strange noises) came from a pun: What is a frog’s favourite game? - Leap Frog.



The title was used for the English language editions, but it was no surprise that it didn’t survive translation.



If you’re stuck for something to write, or bogged down in something you are writing, try pun-surfing. It will at least elicit a groan - and maybe even put a silly smile on your face and make a picture or an idea pop into your mind.


Take toads for example:



Puns might lead you to a Highway Toad who is toadally awesome. Or to cute toadlers who go to play school, leave their coats in the croakroom, have to learn the highway toad for road safety, dance to hip-hop, have a hopperation if poorly…


Yep, too many puns together are indigestible, but have a go. Take a topic you’re interested in and follow the puns. They might just be the spark you need to ignite your new picture book story.


The best times to look out for a pun? 5.30 and 6.30, hands down 


                                            preferably accompanied by your watch dog, Rolex :-)



Jane was especially delighted by the number of puns that made it into the Gilbert books, where they were brilliantly illustrated by Charles Fuge. 


From Gilbert the Great




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