Written by: Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by: Lane Smith
Published in 1992
Caldecott Honor Book
Genre: Picture Book, Humor
Grade Level: 2-5
Summary: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (which from now on will be referred to as The Stinky Cheese Man) includes ridiculous and sarcastic retellings of classic fairy tales. With titles such as “Chicken Licken” and “Little Red Running Shorts,” this book is full of amusing and outrageous stories. The narrator Jack (from the classic tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”) makes a mockery of the way stories are traditionally told. From an upside down dedication page to the copyright page being stuck at the back of the book, Scieszka and Smith have created a mixed up yet amusing experience from cover to cover.
I have a very vague memory of reading and enjoying this book when I was younger, which is part of the reason I picked this book up in the first place. About two pages in I figured I must have made a good choice, as I was already giggling and the “story” hadn’t really started yet (or so I thought).
The Stinky Cheese Man is a delightfully sarcastic take on both fairy tales and book publishing. I loved too many things to mention them all, but some of my favorites included the table of contents falling on (and ending) one of the stories, Jack telling the giant a story that repeats itself over and over again until the giant falls asleep, and the use of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as the author and illustrator photos. I also loved the way font sizes and colors were used to tell the story. From the text (which goes all the way to the bottom on one page) to the illustrations, every inch of available space in this book is used to tell the story… including one page that is completely blank in the middle of the book.
The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it’s sarcastic and sometimes dark nature won’t be enjoyable or make sense to some kids. While I personally loved the stories like “The Really Ugly Duckling” (who doesn’t grow up to be a beautiful swan), I can think of at least a few kids who would have issues with these stories. While I have the grade levels above listed as 2-5, I would probably use this book more in the upper grades of that range, as those students tend to be able to better understand this kind of humor at that age.
Final Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is really the kind of thing that gets me excited about reading (see my post from last week). I loved every bit of this book, especially the quirky way things were laid out. While this book won’t appeal to everyone, I do believe that a lot of kids would really enjoy it. I definitely plan to look up more books by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, and one of my upcoming reviews will be about their Math Curse book.
I give The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales five stars!
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There were many funny tales in this book , but others were just plain stupid. There is a lesson to be learned throughout this book. Never, I mean never, let a character named Jack write tales! It will just go down south. My favorite part about this book is that it’s not just a regular book. It tells a story throughout the whole book, strange things happen that will be amusing to some people. The pictures in this book are amazing. They really help the story. Without the pictures it would be a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey mess! I think older kids would enjoy this book because they would probably understand it better. Grades 3 through 6 would probably like this book in my opinion. I can’t wait to read the Math Curse which is by the same author and illustrator. It will be awesome!!!
I give this picture book four stars because it is funny yet idiotic at the same time.