Saturday, January 24, 2009

Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

This is a hilarious autobiography that follows in the footsteps of some other wonderful quirky memoirs, like Oddballs by William Sleator, and Gary Paulsen's Guts: The True Stories behind Hatchet and the Brian Books and also How Angel Peterson Got His Name. The book is full of pictures of the Scieszka family -- five boys, Dad (a school principal), and Mom (a nurse). Having grown up in the fifites, the context of a lot of the stories was very familiar to me, although my brother and I never got up to quite the sort of hijinks that Jon and his brothers did. It's a good thing their mom was a nurse, because they needed a fair amount of patching up. Each chapter is only a few pages long and each chapter retells some wild story, which often resulted in damage to property or one of the brothers themselves. There's also a quite funny story about learning to read from the Dick and Jane books, the same ones we used in my first grade class. Jon couldn't understand why the people in the book talked funny, "Look. Look. See the dog. That is a dog," and also why they were always neat and didn't engage in the kind of activities his family did --wrestling, tree-climbing, bike-smashing. I highly recommend this book, and if you like it, definitely try the Sleator and Paulsen books. Review by Stacy Church

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