November 8, 2011 / 1:48 PM / 7 years ago

Pirate cats, doodling schoolboy win Roald Dahl prize

LONDON (Reuters) - A posse of plundering pirate cats and a doodling school boy struggling to win the affections of a girl in his class are the central characters in books that won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, British literary charity Booktrust said on Tuesday.

“Cats Ahoy!” by Peter Bentley and Jim Field won the children aged six and under category. It tells the tale of a gang of cats who seize a ship full of haddock on the high seas.

The daring feline adventurers seize a trawler crammed with the fish by posing as ghosts and manage to allay their owners’ suspicions, with the classic feline phrase “Me? How?”

“Cats marauding as ghost pirates to steal fishy bounty from lily-livered humans? What more do you want from a funny book.... The book had the judges in fits of giggles,” said Michael Rosen, chair of the judging panel.

“The Brilliant World of Tom Gates,” which picked up the seven to 14-year old award, finds the eponymous protagonist scribbling his way through school as he tries to annoy one neighbor Marcus Meldrew, and impress another, Sophie Porter.

The hapless boy daydreams and draws his way through lessons, comes up with excuses for late homework, and is rumbled as the author of fake letter’s from home to the teacher at an agonizing parents’ evening.

The prize inspired by Dahl, author of children’s classics “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” was established by Michael Rosen when he was Children’s Laureate to celebrate humor in children’s literature.

Booktrust is a UK charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to engage with books.

Reporting by Simon Falush, editing by Paul Casciato

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