Booktrust have just announced the shortlist for their new prize: The Roald Dahl Funny Prize. A brilliant idea, I think. The things that made you laugh as a child tend to stick with you.
What struck me as I looked at the shortlists was that amongst the Georgia Nicholsons (whom I do like, a lot) and Julia Donaldsons, there was good old Paddington. To be precise, Paddington Here and Now.
When I was young, there was a bear divide in our household. My sister was a big Paddington fan, but Gwynedd Rae's Mary Plain was the bear for me. I loved Mary and the Bear Pit at Bern (deeply politically uncorrect now, I'm sure), and the Twins and Frisca. Paddington made me smile, but Mary made me laugh.
Is there a William/Jennings divide as well as a bear one, I wonder? William never did much for me - always something of the thug about William, I felt, but I loved Jennings and Darbishire. It was a source of great grief to my OH and me that neither of our children showed the remotest spark of attraction to Jennings; nor even Willans and Searle's Molesworth.
I don't think it can be the difference in types of school which gets them: I went to a 1960s built grammar school, not a private school like St Custard's - but for them it simply doesn't click. I even went through a period of writing sub-Molesworth stuff for the school magazine (which the sixth form editors loved, but my English teacher loathed. "Jane must learn to curb her eccentricity," she wrote on my report. Bearing in mind I now specialise in pony books I think you can see that I failed to take much notice of that - died in the wool bolshiness which failed to win me the school deportment girdle, let alone The Mrs Joyful Prize for Raffia Work.)
I can still quote reams of Down With Skool (chiz, chiz), and was completely bowled over by this wonderful updating of Molesworth by the utterly brilliant Alice Dryden.
So, who makes you laugh? Should I give William another try?