Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Grubtown Tale takes funny prize

By Genevieve Hassan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky
The book was praised for the repulsive character of Manual Org

A book about a repulsively smelly man has won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, honouring humorous books for children.

Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky by Philip Ardagh was named the winner in the seven to 14 age group category.

While Sam Lloyd's Mr Pusskins Best in Show won the six and under age group.

The winners were presented with a cheque for £2,500 and a bottle of wine from Roald Dahl's personal wine cellar at a London ceremony.

Ardagh saw off stiff competition from authors including Anne Fine and Little Britain star David Walliams, who was nominated for his debut novel, The Boy in the Dress.

The judges, which included author Michael Rosen and the comedian Bill Bailey, praised Ardagh's book about a town of oddballs trying to rid themselves of the repulsive Manual Org.

'Ridiculously funny'

They were delighted by the character whose breath smells of "two-thirds of a pickled raw herring, a pickled onion, eleven gherkins and one jar of sandwich spread (one month past its sell-by date)".

"The Grubtown joke is really a perpetual revelling in the stink," Rosen told the BBC news website.

"Children live in a world where they're constantly being cleaned and this book releases that pressure saying you don't have to be clean while reading it."

Rosen also praised Mr Pusskins for being a "ridiculously funny book, full of marvellously mischievous cartooning".

Mr Pusskins Best in Show
Mr Pusskins Best in Show won the six and under age group

Bill Bailey added: "The final two that won have terrific energy and they make you smile as soon as you start reading it.

"The cover of Mr Pusskins shows a catblow drying himself with a hairdryer - that's hilarious!"

Philip Ardagh has written over 70 books for children and collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney in 2005 on his children's book, but has never been awarded a major literary prize before.

Brighton-based Sam Lloyd's first book, Mr Pusskins, was a New York Times Children's Bestseller when it was released in 2006.

Rosen founded the prize last year as part of his children's laureateship.

"I was lying in bed thinking isn't it odd we celebrate the very best children's books but nearly always the funny books get pushed to one side because they don't deal with the big stuff," he said.

"I thought why haven't we, in the book world, found a way of celebrating this and rewarding those people.

"So I went to Booktrust and we approached the Roald Dahl foundation and they said 'yum, yum, yes please' or words to that effect."

Booktrust is an independent charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages to engage with books.

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