Stories Revisited

Do you know the Stinky Cheese Man? The Stinky Cheese Man? The Stinky Cheese Man? (okay, that tune really belongs to the Muffin Man, but you get the picture.)

I don’t know how we missed each other over these last ten years, but I recently met the Stinky Cheese Man. He and some of his friends pop by for a visit in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka.

I had previously read some of Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown stories (which honestly, I’m not that fond of), and was pleased to discover this book. On full display here is Mr. Scieszka’s sharp wit and humor. Combined with Lane Smith’s oddball illustrations, there is much to read and look at in this book.

Personally, I would be hard pressed to attempt to retell a well-known fable or fairy tale. One of my critique group partners is working on a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I applaud her for taking on this challenge. She is braver than I.

I borrowed The Stinky Cheese Man from the library to read with my son. We both loved it, and have read it nightly. Unfortunately, now it has to go back.

The tales are creative (Cinderumpelstiltskin, the Other Frog Prince, and The Princess and the Bowling Ball for example), and some are so wrapped up in Jack’s attempt at putting together of the book (another interesting feature) that they never really get told (Little Red Running Shorts, Chicken Licken).

What was amazing about this book was that not only did I enjoy reading it repeatedly (and honing my many story voices, I might add), but both my son and I thought it was very funny. Mr. Scieszka uses wit and child humor without being gross or morally questionable. As a bonus, my son now knows the components of a book with certainty, because Jack takes us along as he assembles the book. The fact that the Table of Contents falls on some of the characters helps as well.

In looking at the Scieszka book list on Amazon, I apparently have missed quite a few other books that my son and I might enjoy. We’ll have to try The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs or Squids Will Be Squids.

Do you read Jon Scieszka books? Which are your favorites?

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