2017 TOP 10 List
THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH
by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Brendan Kearney
There’s a stinky stench in the fridge–and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast–this fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids and adults alike!
Oh my flapjack-a-doodle, I loved this picture book! And I’m not just saying that because Josh Funk promised to name a character Cathy C. Hall in his next picture book!
Um…I’ve just been informed that Josh Funk did NOT promise to name a character Cathy C. Hall in his next picture book.
But he did promise to answer all five of my questions, so let’s see what he has to say:
So Josh, here’s THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH in the Top Ten, showing up at Goodreads in its Best of list, and now you have another book coming out in this series! Did you ever imagine that breakfast foods could be so profitable for you?
Nope! In fact, when I was querying LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (the first book in the series) to agents, one of the common responses I received was “anthropomorphic foods don’t sell.” It just goes to show that breaking the rules is sometimes a good thing (especially because another common rule you hear is ‘don’t write in rhyme’ – which clearly I broke as well).
And of course, the third book in the series (MISSION: DEFROSTABLE, available 9.4.18) will also be in rhyme.
Speaking of your rhyming picture books, which comes first when you write: the rhyme or the story?
Story. Always story. Story is the most important part of a rhyming picture book. In fact, the second most important part of a rhyming picture book is the rhythm. Any first grader can rhyme – it’s the rhythm that takes a ton of work to get right.
Rhyme is actually the least important part of a rhyming picture book.
So there’s hope for me! Humor plays a big part in THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH, both in the characters and story. How did you come to write so comically?
Because picture books are a visual art form (and I am a terrible visual artist), I think of things I’d like to see illustrated. Funny things that I could never draw. Like a pancake and French toast racing through the fridge causing culinary chaos. It just lends itself to hilarity.
And Brendan Kearney, the book’s illustrator, just ran with it. He’s added so much visual humor to the story. Starting with the character design (whipped cream hairdo, strawberry hat – those were all his ideas) and spreading throughout the entire fridge setting.
I’m also a fan of the occasional, well-placed pun – like the literal red herring and tripping by Miss Steak (which I just sort of fell into).
And I think we’re all fans of your books, Josh! So what do you have coming out next year?
2018 is going to be a busy year! I have 4 books (3 that rhyme) coming out between May 1st and September 4th (a slim 125 day period – but who’s counting?).
The first is called ALBIE NEWTON (Sterling, 5.1.18), illustrated by Ester Garay. It’s about smart and creative boy who starts school, but doesn’t really have all the social skills down yet. His grand attempt to make friends causes lots of problems for his classmates, and – well, you’ll have to read it to find out how it ends. But I think lots of kids will relate to Albie Newton and the other kids in his class.
HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE (Viking/Penguin, 6.5.18), illustrated by Sara Palacios is being published in partnership with Girls Who Code – and I couldn’t be more excited about this one, even though it doesn’t rhyme! It’s the first in a series of informational fiction picture books about a girl named Pearl and her robot, Pascal. In this first book, they use fundamental coding concepts to construct the perfect beach day using sequences, loops, and if-then-else statements – but using them in real world situations.
Later in the summer, I’ve got another rhyming book called LOST IN THE LIBRARY: A STORY OF PATIENCE & FORTITUDE (Macmillan, 8.28.18), illustrated by Stevie Lewis. This is the first picture book about Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues that faithfully guard the New York Public Library (in fact, this book is published in partnership with the NYPL). When Patience goes missing, Fortitude realizes that Patience has ventured inside the library. So for the first time ever, Fortitude abandons his post to search for Patience before the sun rises and we, the readers, get to explore the library for the first time alongside Fortitude.
And lastly is the third book in the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series: MISSION DEFROSTABLE (Sterling, 9.4.18). In this action-packed adventure, the fridge is freezing over – and Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have to travel to parts of the
fridge they’ve never ventured … and need to enlist the help of one of their fiercest rivals. Dun. Dun. DUN!
Can’t wait to read ‘em all! And now my last question because we’re also about letting all those rhyming picture book writers out there know there’s hope. What’s the best advice you can give to them?
Great question. I have lots to say about this subject, but most importantly I think rhyming picture book writers should remember that ALL picture books (especially rhyming ones) are meant to be read aloud to children (usually by adults). It’s important that everyone who speaks the language can read and perform the book well. It has to work for people with all accents and from all regions – which means that you have to be very careful when using words that people pronounce differently – especially regarding the rhythm!
For example, think about the word ‘family’ – how many syllables does it have? The dictionary will tell you it has 3 – but many people pronounce it with 2. So putting the word family in the middle of a line could screw up the rhythm for some readers. Then think about how many words are just like that in your story. Every syllable matters.
So have your manuscripts read aloud TO you by everyone – especially the worst readers out there. Listen for places where they screw up – and then fix those spots.
Thanks so much for honoring The Case of the Stinky Stench with Best in Rhyme consideration and inviting me to answer some questions!
Thank you, Josh! And best of luck to you and THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH. (Even if you’re not putting me in one of your books.)
Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books – such as the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series (including The Case of the Stinky Stenchand the upcoming Mission: Defrostable), It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, and the forthcoming Albie Newton, How to Code a Sandcastle (in conjunction with Girls Who Code), Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude (in conjunction with the New York Public Library), It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, and more coming soon!
Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.
Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts.
Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.
For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.
Congratulations JOSH on
CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH
making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!