Author Profile: Jon Scieszka

Today, I am featuring Jon Scieszka, an author who started his career as a teacher before finding success with his own unique sense of humor. He has written a wide range of books, from the Trucktown preschool series to multiple fractured fairy tales. You probably know him best for his frequent collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith, with whom he worked on The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Time Warp Trio Series, Science Verse, Squids Will Be Squids, Cowboy and Octopus, and others.

Mr. Scieszka has a very unique sense of humor that is silly and multilevel. Both parents and children will enjoy different things about his books, and parents might even enjoy the repeated readings (gasp!). For his fairy tale-based books, he takes a slightly different perspective on what we think we know about characters and their stories. I can almost hear him starting a book writing session by saying, “What if?…”

He has won a long list of awards for his books, including the Caldecott Honor for The Stinky Cheese Man, the Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature (Science Verse), and multiple citations by the ALA, New York Times, and National Education Association. Mr. Scieszka previously served as as the US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and is dedicated to increasing literacy and making reading fun.

Our favorite Jon Scieszka books are:
The Stinky Cheese Man(see my previous review here)The True Story of the Three Little PigsScience Verse

All of the above books have so much humor and interesting text packed into them. We own the Stinky Cheese Man and have read it so many times the pages are worn. I will soon be buying Science Verse, as it has been read no less that a dozen times since we brought it home from the library. Science Verse not only introduces scientific concepts, but because the text is based on classic poems or songs, it has also generates an interest in the original material. Way to get kids interested in science, literature, and the arts all at once!

Some other books from this author that we have not yet read: The Time Warp Trio Series; the Frank Einstein series; Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten! The Story of Red Riding Hood as Told by The Wolf; or the Guys Read series. We didn’t care for the Trucktown series, but once we discovered it my son was too old for it.

What is your favorite Jon Scieszka book? Please share in the comments!

Lights, Camera, Action!

ImageLights! Camera! Action! How a Movie is Made

Written and Illustrated By: Gail Gibbons

Thomas Y. Crowell Publishing House, 1985, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 6-9

Genre: Non-Fiction

How We Discovered This Book:

My son is very interested in how movies and television is made. Some of this probably stems from the natural process of learning what is real, and what is not. However, he takes a distinct interest in “peeling back the curtain” and figuring out how things are accomplished. We have watched videos on movie makeup, special effects, puppetry, and techniques like green screens and stop motion animation, but I was in search of a good book to explain the big picture of making movies and television.

What I Liked About This Book:

Even though this book was published almost 30 years ago, it covers the broad process in such a way that it does not feel outdated. The whole process is covered from the writing of the script all the way to opening night. We get to see all of the preparation involved, and the many people needed to make a movie.

What Did My Son Aidan Think?

He enjoyed this book much better than several others we read, which were way too general or outdated. This book seemed to have just the right amount of detail without getting bogged down in it. After reading this book, my son wants to learn more. Any suggestions on this topic? I have my eye on a Klutz book on stop-motion animation, but I’d love any suggestions for picture books.


Teaching Resources: This site has TONS of ideas for teaching kids about television and movies.

Write Your Own Activity Script: This site walks you through how to write a script with kids, and then mount a production. They base the script on Jon Sciezka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, so it sounds extra fun.

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?