The Method in Our Punness

A little silly, right? Punness? But I wonder, will you remember that title because of its connection to the famous Shakespeare line from Hamlet:

Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

Will it have a little more impact because of that connection? Or maybe you’ve heard the paraphrased versions:

  • There is method in his madness
  • There is method in my madness
  • There is method in our madness

In many of ARTK12’s books we use humor to reinforce information. A double bonus is when we use both humor and great art to that end. Let’s take a look at some of this humor from our history and literature books along with our upcoming Draw the Human Body: Organs book, the first book in our newest series Anatomy Disguised as Fun.

American Art History Vol II - Sample 4

Humor Since 2010

Kristin used humor in her books from the very beginning. The first books she published over 10 years ago, Mona Lisa and Mona Lisa Smiles both use humor. The latter is for much smaller children and humor is often visual. Mona Lisa, for older students, uses more sophisticated humor: characters in paintings talk, Mona Lisa talks and people observing paintings talk. Even some animals talk.

The books that Kristin put by far the most work into, American Art History Volumes 1 & 2 have all kinds of humor in them: faux advertisements, faux newspaper articles, song parodies and funny names for reporters. Like her Mona Lisa books, characters in paintings talk, characters in the margins talk and in one instance a potato talks.

A talking potato. That’s funny. Especially for a kid.

For the kids!

Many years ago we had a well-educated woman review Kristin’s history books. She was not thrilled with the humor, nor should she have been: she’s an adult. I didn’t think she understood that the humor was NOT for her.

In another review, another woman who thought the humor was kind corny and was a little put off by it, noted that Kristin’s history books were the ones her son chose to take to his room. The others, probably feeling a bit left out, remained on the shelves in their study room.

Literature Disguised as Fun

In our literature series we often use great art with talk bubbles to reinforce themes from the short stories, novels or poems. In some cases these can even be serious, for example, the cover for The Red Badge of Courage, a novel about war, a fairly heavy topic to say the least. Our soldier says, “This is not what I thought war would be like,” echoing themes from this great American novel by Stephen Crane.

But more often we go for humor. Using a funny meme, or talk bubble on a great piece of art or classic illustration from the book helps reinforce important themes. In this series, the author bios incorporate humor through the use to time-machines, space-ships, questionable scientific experiments and more. You can see examples of our memes/talk bubbles below from Frankenstein, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Six Just So Stories, Jack and the Beanstalk, A Christmas Carol, Walking and The Bet.

Anatomy Disguised as Fun

Our plan is for Draw the Human Body: Organs to be out this summer, hopefully in June. We are using lots of humor in this book sprinkled throughout while students read about the organs and draw and label them. Here are some examples (some still in rough draft form):