A Guest Post by Sam Knight
It's the punchline to my children's book Chunky Monkey Pupu. Kids love it. Why? Well, it's a poop joke. Everyone likes scatological humor if done correctly. Well, almost everyone. My 87 year old grandmother doesn't care for it at all. But you can't please everyone, and, unlike most of the rest of my life, she wasn't the one I was trying to please.
When I wrote Chunky Monkey Pupu, I had a specific audience in mind: my five year-old son (and his 9 year-old sister). But when I realized how well it worked on them, I realized it would work well on other beginner readers.
The whole thing started at the dinner table. We were discussing a book I could write to help him learn to read. (I still haven't gotten around to writing one using all of the 'sight words' he was supposed to learn. I will probably get around to that for his son. Probably.) I needed something to get the attention of a kid who had told his teacher that his father said he didn't have to learn how to read.
Take a second to savor that last sentence. I am a writer. My son told the teacher I said he didn't have to learn how to read. That's like a dentist saying their kid doesn't have to brush.
Anyway, I can't tell you the exact way the turn of phrase Chunky Monkey Pupu came up, but I can tell you we were all giggling and teasing each other. Then, the five year-old did what five year-olds do. He brought up the poop joke. How could he not? I mean we were talking about pupus (as in the pupu platter—which is why Chunky Monkey Pupu is chunky). But in his young mind, my son was hearing poo-poo.
So, of course, when it was suggested that I write the book, my son wanted me to put in it that Chunky Monkey Pupu flings poo. We had just seen the movie Madagascar, and the line "If you have any poo, fling it now," was high on the five year-old priority list.
That's when Mom shut him down. No poo-poo at the dinner table. It was inappropriate.
I followed suit and told him it would be inappropriate in a children's book, too.
That's why the joke worked so well when he read it. It was unexpected.
When I read the story to children, they all snicker at the name, then I tell them "Come on. You know what pupus are. Right?"
They all laugh. They know.
Then I tell them, "You eat them!"
Jaws hit the floor. Little kids lose it. Of course, then I explain it is another word for appetizers and they get it. Pupus are snacks, not poo-poo.
Kids believe adults. I don't know why.
Now they don't expect the poop joke anymore. So when they get the poop joke at the end of the story, it's a double whammy. Works every time.
Because everyone likes scatological humor if done correctly.
Everyone except my 87 year-old grandmother, that is.
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As well as being part of the WordFire Press Production Team, Sam Knight is the Senior Editor for Villainous Press and author of four children's books, three short story collections, two novels, and more than a dozen short stories, including a Novella co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson.
He can be found at SamKnight.com and contacted at Sam@samknight.comTags: Sequence 00: Guest Posts