Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review - The Stinky Cheese Man

The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is the funniest book I have ever read, hands down. As soon as you open the book to the title page, you know right from the start that this is going to be a funny! Book. Even the front jacket gets into the mix, saying “56 action-packed pages. 75% more than those old 32-page “Brand-X” books.” I can’t believe this story wasn’t listed for the weeks we are covering humor in children’s books. Talk about author or narrator intrusion – this is the book to do it in.
I can’t wait to take it to the kids on Friday and read it, but I’m afraid most of them won’t get the humor, which brings me to the point of intended audience. At first glance, this is a picture book. It is for kids. Except, I doubt that most kids under the age of 15 would get this book. There are references to many different stories they hear when growing up, but the younger ones I think might just be confused about this book of nonsensical nonsense. However, this won a Caldecott Honor, and as an adult reading it, I found such an incredible joy that most books just don’t instill in me anymore. From cover to cover, this was enthralling. 
It spoofs some of the best-known fairytales and stories we have in this culture: Chicken Little, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the Pea, and several others. And it turns them all what I like to call upsidedoodle! 
I think some of the humor in this book will be lost on younger readers (under 10 or so) who are unfamiliar with all of these stories or unable to yet understand sarcasm. But regardless of whether you have kids or you teach or are 80 years old, you must go and find this book right now and read it! I think I'm going to go buy a copy to take to France and read to the kids there - that's how amazing I thought this book was! 

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