If you read just one book on writing (or six, for that matter) this year, you might as well have a terrific time doing it. Having just finished reading aloud James Howe’s entire Tales from the House of Bunnicula series (including the riotous Harry Potter parody Howie Monroe and the Doghouse of Doom, about the writing of a Harry Potter parody — by a dachsund), I can’t imagine a more fun perspective on the trials and tribulations of writing in general and of writing books for young readers in particular.

Outlining? Check. Collaborating with another author? Check. Revising, angling for the Newbony award, and overusing certain similes (see above)? Check, check, check, and then some. The one drawback is that these books seem so effortlessly funny and faux-slapdash that you’ll might wonder whether anyone really needs to do much thinking about how to write, or else be intimidated by the standard they set, or both.

Oh, well. As Howie put it in The Amazing Odorous Adventures of Stinky Dog, “Life is so unfair. Especially when you’re a dog. And a writer.”