COMEDY KNOWHOW with Justin Davies (part three)


Fancy having a pop at writing comedy for middle graders? In this four-part series, SCBWI’s Justin Davies, author of the face-bustingly funny Help! I Smell a Monster and Woah! I Spy a Werewolf, talks us through the steps to comic genius.


Part three: Comedy Classics


In part two of this series of articles on writing comedy for middle grade readers we looked at some of the things kids love to laugh at. Just like older readers, children have wide-ranging tastes when it comes to funny books, so here’s a few more ideas to stir into the comedy cauldron.


Things that go bump in the night!


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a child in search of a funny book is probably in want of some blood and guts too! Kids love gore. They love the ghoulish, the gruesome and the grim. Mix it all up, make it funny and put your monsters, vampires and dastardly villains in silly situations and you’re onto a winner. 


The F word.


I refer, of course, to farts. Kids find farts funny. Period. It really helps if you’re writing for children, that you find them funny too, because the time will come when you just have to throw in a fart gag (or a poo, snot, wee, bogie*) for comedic effect. Kids don’t suffer from the same hang-ups as adults – they are free to laugh at all the things the rest of us secretly wish we could still laugh at too. (* delete as appropriate)




You don’t have to deploy an actual banana skin, but a little bit (or a lot – go for it!) of slapstick comedy goes a long way. For an hilarious example of side-splitting slapstick comedy go no further than Life of Riley, Beginners Luck by Simon James Green, which includes the unforgettable chapter in which Riley, his classmates and their teacher manage to glue themselves together with a stick of Mega-Fix. I laughed so much when I read it, I think a bit of wee came out!


Try including some of these fantastic ideas in your funny stories, or perhaps you have your own comedy gems in mind. Just don’t forget: you’ve gotta…



Justin Davies lives in Fife with his husband Andrew and Sally The Greyhound. He spends his mornings working at his local primary school, and his afternoons writing “brilliantly funny”* and “spectacularly hilarious”* Middle Grade books. His debut title, Help! I Smell a Monster (Orchard Books) was named a Fantastic Book Award 2021 winner. Justin’s third children’s book – a darkly comic adventure – will publish in Spring 2023.

(*Quotes: author’s own.)

You can find Justin on Twitter @flyingscribbler and Instagram @flyingscribbler

His website is



Jo E. Verrill is an enthusiastic writer of humorous books for children, an advertising and broadcasting standards consultant and Words & Pictures’ KnowHow editor. 

Got an idea for KnowHow, or a subject you’d like to hear more on? Let us know at

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