The 700 page rib-tickler will help fund programs supporting children living in war zones around the world. Photo Andrea Macleod.
The 700 page rib-tickler will help fund programs supporting children living in war zones around the world. Photo Andrea Macleod.

The ultimate hilarious stocking filler for kids

Brisbane author Nick Earls and illustrator Terry Whidborne have joined a who's who of Australia's funniest media personalities and children's authors to create an epic volume of hilarious rhymes, stories, comics and jokes for international charity War Child.

The anthology, Funny Bones, launched just in time for Christmas, features works by Hannah Gadsby, Andy Griffith and Terry Denton, Kathy Lette, First Dog on the Moon, Richard Roxburg, Lawrence Leung and many more of Australia's best loved writers.

The collection, which Nick jokingly suggested weighed as much as a 10-year-old, follows in the tradition of the previous volumes Kids Night In and Girls Night In which have raised millions to support children living in conflict zones.

Edited by Kate and Jol Temple and Oliver Phommavanh, there are more than 100 stories to keep kids giggling across the summer.

"There's such a huge range. I think that is what makes it the ultimate stocking stuffer," Nick said.

"700 pages and hundreds of things going on and every kid is going to be able to find something just for them."

Get ready to laugh your pants off with Funny Bones this summer. Photo. Andrea Macleod
Get ready to laugh your pants off with Funny Bones this summer. Photo. Andrea Macleod

Nick, who was drawn to the mission of War Child nearly 20 years ago for the very first Kids Night In volume, said the beauty of the book was that it was for children and the proceeds from sales would help children.

"Very often a connection with books and reading is something that can be broken in a war. And War Child is helping deal with that."

He said the charity's current work in Yemen was delivering grassroots changes for children devastated by the conflict.

"There are two million kids in Yemen who don't have food security and who can't go to school because the schools have been destroyed or shut. War Child went in there and the first thing they did was hand over money to the families so that 18000 children would continue to get food," Nick said.

"One of the things that attracted me to them (War Child) was that they goes in without having developed a solution somewhere in New York or London and trying to make it fit on the ground. They try and come up with solutions, on the ground, that are purpose built."

 

Funny Bones is a hilarious anthology supporting charity War Child. Photo Supplied.
Funny Bones is a hilarious anthology supporting charity War Child. Photo Supplied.

Nick said the charity also assisted to get thousands of children in Yemen, whose birth records had been destroyed during the conflict, to get birth certificates so they could "exist in the system" again.

"To access education children had to exist in the system …. War Child has done that and they've got those children going to school again and they've funded setting up schools," Nick said.

Support from War Child has also provided trauma counselling to over 1300 children in Yemen and provided 4000 children with backpacks filled with essential equipment.

"It's really practical steps that change lives," Nick said.

"One other aspect is that children who are going to school are less likely to be recruited into militia and to die fighting. It not only gives them prospects of a future but it makes them safer. They are educated and fed and less likely to end up on the front line of a civil war at the age of ten."

"Children here, children everywhere are entitled to have fun, entitled to feel safe and fed and have books to read but it's important to realise there are places in the world where those rights are being neglected and are not being met and this is part of connecting with that and meeting those needs."

For Terry, the man behind the highly successful 0-Oh series and co-creator of the Word Hunters with Nick, knowing children in Australia would read the book and then possibly start thinking about their own lives and compare it to the children in Yemen was "quite powerful".

"The book works on multiple levels especially when children start comparing their lives to the lives of those kids who don't have a childhood."

So while the book is about laughter and putting smiles on kids' faces both Nick and Terry said part of the joy comes from creating a book knowing it will "really make a difference".

"At the launch of the second Girls Night In author Yasmin Boland had done the maths that 24 contributors had helped fund about 24 playgrounds in the Balkans where children couldn't play outside because of unexploded landmines or shell," Nick said.

"She said every story had built a playground and that is a real incentive to sit down and write. To write a story can be weeks of work but if those weeks are going to do something like that it is a really valuable thing to do.

War Child was formed in 1993 in response to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Nick and Terry's story is called An Interview with an Alien.

Visit www.warchild.org.au for more information on the charity.


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