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Going for laughs

R.L. Stine's new series includes titles such as
R.L. Stine's new series includes titles such as "The Big Blueberry Barf-Off!" and "The Great Smelling Bee." (The Spokesman-Review)
Tracy Grant The Washington Post

Just the names of his books are enough to make you make sure that your door is locked and the lights are on: “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp.” “One Day at Horrorland.” “It Came From Beneath the Sink!” (in which case the door being locked and the lights being on don’t help you much). But master scary-teller R.L. Stine has a new series of books that, with titles such as “The Big Blueberry Barf-Off!” and “The Great Smelling Bee,” are more funny than frightening. Stine, who will be reading from his books and answering kids’ questions at the National Book Festival in Washington on Saturday, talked with KidsPost about his new series, his favorite questions from kids and what scares him. Q. The “Rotten School” books are very different from the “Goosebumps” or “Fear Street” stories. Why did you decide to write funny books this time? A. I started out writing joke books, funny books for kids. I’ve been scaring kids for a long time. It’s a fun job. But I thought it would be good to do … something to make kids laugh. Q. What scares you? A. When I was a kid, everything scared me. I was afraid of the dark, afraid of the basement at night. I could remember the feeling of panic I felt as a kid, and I brought it to my “Goosebumps” books. Q. What’s the first thing you remember writing? A. When I was about 9, I found a typewriter and I would stay in my room, typing. I wrote little joke magazines. I did funny comics with a character called Superstooge until I realized that all my friends could draw better than me. Q. What question do kids ask you most? A. (Kids always ask) “Where do you get your ideas?” That’s the one that’s impossible to answer. Who knows where ideas come from? I was thinking about doing a funny series and then one day I’m walking the dog and the words “Rotten School” pop into my head. That’s where that idea came from. I was speaking at my old elementary school in Columbus, Ohio, and a kid stood up and asked: “What’s the worst book you ever wrote?” Then another kid stood up and asked: “Do you like fried chicken?” Q. What one book, not one of yours, would you recommend to kids today? A. “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury. It’s the creepiest book I’ve ever read. It’s wonderfully written. I really admire that book.”

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