BMH-Funny-Girl-feat

I have read a lot of serious books lately. With the summer reading program coming to an end and my last semester of graduate school starting, I thought I would take it easy.

“Funny Girl,” librarian BETSY BIRD’s new middle-grade fiction anthology, was the perfect choice. “FUNNY GIRL: FUNNIEST. STORIES. EVER.” promises big things with its subtitle, and it does not disappoint.

The anthology offers something for every type of reader, including comics, epistolary short stories, personal essays and how-tos. The anthology includes stories from an all-female cast of beloved and award-winning authors and illustrators such as Cece Bell (author/illustrator of “El Deafo”), Libba Bray, Kelly DiPucchio, Shannon Hale, Rita Williams-Garcia and the one and only Raina Telgemeier of “Drama” and “Smile” fame. The more well-known authors will be enough to draw readers in, but each story is fun and interesting in its own right.

Some of the highlights include: Alison DeCamp’s “Dear Grandpa: Give Me Money,” in which a young girl named Trixie corresponds with her (very humorous) grandfather in an attempt to get money to compete with a rich neighbor; Cece Bell’s interrupting chicken-style comic starring a familiar Founding Father; and Kelly DiPucchio’s cringe-worthy poems, among others. Many of the stories emphasize, either implicitly or explicitly, the importance of goofy, self-assured humor, as well as the importance of such humor in the face of bullies, friend trouble and the impending doom that is adulthood.

Although I picked up Bird’s book as stress relief, the book does offer some important messages: First, you can find humor in almost anything, including a germ-obsessed mom who burns bathtubs and a rain-ruined perm on your grandma. Second, girls are allowed to be funny.

These are important messages in a world that often tells girls and boys that they have to be one specific thing to be accepted.

This anthology excels on multiple levels. On an individual level, the stories are well-written, laugh-out-loud funny and authentic. As a whole, Bird’s collection is inclusive, well-rounded and well-structured. Adults and young readers alike will find plenty to enjoy and laugh about in “Funny Girl.”

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