Dark lord and shouting tot pick up Roald Dahl prize

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 06, 2012 8:49 AM
Dark lord and shouting tot pick up Roald Dahl prize

LONDON (Reuters) - "GET OUT OF MY ROOM!" are the first words yelled by Bella, the central character in "My Big Shouting Day", winner of the 2012 Roald Dahl Funny prize in the category aged six and under.

The victory was announced at an award ceremony in London by British literary charity Booktrust on Tuesday.

Bella's may seem a reasonable response to waking up to find your jewellery being licked by a baby brother, you may think.

But things do not improve from here, and nothing anyone does for Bella is right and it seems the only solution is to shout as loud as possible about the injustice of it all.

The response will be amusingly familiar to parents of young children everywhere, and it draws on the experience of author Rebecca Patterson with her daughter, now a few years older.

"She used to have a lot of tantrums, I still do myself sometimes," she told Reuters.

The book came into being as she linked together pictures she had drawn when doing a masters degree in illustration.

The feelings brought to light by the book seem to be widely held.

"It just made me laugh and laugh. Who hasn't had, or at least wanted to have - a big shouting day?" prize judge, journalist and author Lucy Mangan said.

"Who hasn't just wanted to go to pieces when faced with 'the TERRIBLE EGG' or toothpaste that is just TOO minty?"


"Dark Lord: The Teenage Years", a tale about a powerful netherworld lord who finds himself inhabiting the body of a chubby teenager scooped the seven to 14 year category prize.

The book by Jamie Thomson focuses on Dirk Lloyd and his tribulations from being taken care of by social services and settled into his local school, when all he really wants to do is be appreciated as an evil force and return to his reign of terror.

Thomson used his experience writing fantasy books for role play as a springboard for something that could examine the baddies characters more fully.

"I wanted to show what it's like to be a dark lord in more detail, and why people would want to be one," Thomson said.

He added recent and that recent big name fiction like Harry Potter had bolstered interest in fantasy books and helped foster the book's popularity.

The book also shines a light on the bizarre way that people in the real world behave, said Michael Rosen, author and chair of the judges.

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"This is a wonderfully absurd take on beings from another planet or another world and like all books with this theme it makes us think about how odd and crazy we are,"

The prize, now in its fifth year, was inspired by Dahl, who wrote children's classics "Matilda", "The Witches" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox". Rosen established the award when he was Children's Laureate to celebrate humor in children's literature.

"We know that reading for pleasure is an engine for attainment and achievement in all walks of life," Rosen said.

"Children, parents, teachers, librarians and all concerned with reading can find a rich vein of books for all ages in the back lists of this prize, and this year's shortlists and winners are engaging, fascinating and above all, very funny.'

Booktrust is a UK charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to engage with books.

(Reporting by Simon Falush, editing by Paul Casciato)