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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: Funny Girl

Courtesy Elizabeth Bird

Betsy Bird knows what tickles a young girl’s funny bone. She’s the editor of Funny Girl: Funniest Stories Ever (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017). Bird decided to create the collection of 25 humorous stories when she couldn’t find any anthologies of funny stories for girls by women authors.

“Until The Diary of a Wimpy Kid came along, we didn’t have the great, funny, kid’s book blockbuster,” Bird says, referring to a popular children’s book that was then made into a movie. “After it came out, kids were clamoring for more. I was a children’s librarian at that time, and I pulled all these funny books for them. I tried to change it up, for guys and girls. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to run to 50 different places, if there was just one book for girls. I looked — and there was nothing!”

A conversation with Betsy Bird

But Bird had the connections needed to change that. She's the collection development manager at the Evanston Public Library in Illinois, and the former youth materials specialist for New York Public Library. Bird writes reviews for Kirkus, served on the 2007 Newberry Award committee, and her children’s literature blog, A Fuse #8 Production, is hosted by School Library Journal. Bird is also the author of the picture book, Giant Dance Party, and a co-author on the nonfiction book, Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature.

Credit Penguin-Random House
Penguin-Random House

“None of the collections I found were specifically by women writers,” Bird says. “There’s this perception out there that women aren’t funny. But I know plenty of hilarious women, so I thought, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll do an anthology.”

The contributors include Ursula Brown’s grandmother driving her on a road trip to disaster; Lisa Brown’s little brother getting a Tic-Tac stuck up his nose; Carmen Agra Deedy’s mom setting the bathtub on fire; Rita Williams-Garcia shows two besties hatching a bird- brained scheme to get on to a TV talk show; and Deborah Underwood introduces a dynamic dog-and-cat duo teaming up on a pet advice column. Other essays in the collection include best tricks of the comedy trade by professional humorists like Adrianne Chalepah and Delaney Yeager. And there's an introduction by Bird about how humor helped her deal with embarrassing life situations when she was a girl.

Betsy Bird is the daughter of well-known Kalamazoo poet, Susan Blackwell Ramsey.

Listen to Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

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Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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