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Bring in the Funk

Max and Josh Funk and bookseller at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts
Max and Josh Funk and bookseller at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts

Max with Josh Funk and a bookseller at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts

“I can talk about rhyming all day,” said Josh Funk, who works as a software engineer and children’s book author in Concord, Massachusetts.

Funk has written four rhyming children’s books: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast (Sterling Children’s Books, September 2015); Pirasaurs! (Scholastic, 2016); Dear Dragon (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016), and The Case of the Stinky Stench (Sterling Children’s Books, 2016).

I had the opportunity to interview Funk after a recent storytime at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

What is the story behind Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast?  

One morning, I came downstairs and asked my kids what they wanted for breakfast. One of them said, "I want pancakes!" The other one said, "I want French toast!"

What is the story behind Pirasaurs!?  

I woke up in the middle of the night with the word pirasaurs in my head. So, I recommend that everyone keep a pencil or pen and a piece of paper next to their bed. That time when you are half dreaming and half awake is a great time for ideas.

What is your relationship with your illustrators?  

I work with the publisher and my editor, and they work with the art director. I think my illustrators are incredibly talented artists, and I am fortunate that I have been paired up with each of them.

What is your advice for rhyming?

You have to make the rhymes as easy to read as possible. You have to think about the fact that people have different accents.

What were you like as a kid?

I was shy and quiet. I wasn’t that much of a reader or a writer. I was more of a math and science kid. I dreamed of being a pitcher in the World Series, but I was a terrible hitter so my dreams for baseball disappeared very quickly.

What are some of your favorite picture books?

Iggy Peck, Architect, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts; The Curious Garden by Peter Brown; and The Gardener, written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small.

What’s next for you?  

My next book is called It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk and is illustrated by Edwardian Taylor (Two Lions, September 2017). It is my first book that doesn’t rhyme. It’s about Jack and the Beanstalk. But Jack doesn’t want to climb the beanstalk because there is probably a giant up there. He doesn’t want to sell his cow for five beans because that’s a terrible deal. And he doesn’t want to listen to anything that the reader wants him to do.