In college, Jon Scieszka was on course to become a doctor, but spent his spare time attempting to write the Great American Novel. He decided to shelve his medical ambitions and take a masters degree in Fiction Writing at Columbia University. Afterwards, he became a teacher in New York. Fans of Scieszka will not be surprised that he was a somewhat unorthodox teacher, who introduced his eight-year-old students to Kafka's Metamorphosis ("They loved it. You'd tell them about this guy who turns into a cockroach, and they'd go, 'No way, man, no way.'") Scieszka's teaching experience prompted him to try writing for children, viewing his new readers as "the same smart people I had been trying to reach... just a little shorter." In 1988, Jon took a year off from teaching and swapped material with the illustrator Lane Smith. The result of this collaboration was The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!. The book was initially rejected by publishers on the grounds that it was too weird/sophisticated. But it was not long before the book made it into print. A decade after its first publication, the book has sold over 4 million copies, been translated into ten languages and been widely acclaimed as a classic picture book for all ages. The next Scieszka/Smith collaboration The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales goes even further to break all th
This book's gleaming silver cover and little green namesake signal intergalactic adventure. Fortunately, Scieszka and Smith (Squids Will Be Squids) prefer innovation to UFO clichs, and this tale of an alien truant is also a language game. Lime-colored, freckled Henry P. Baloney is late for class and faces "Permanent Lifelong Detention" from Miss Bugscuffle. He concocts an excuse that spools across the pages in emphatic, italicized capital letters. " `I would have been exactly on time,' said Henry. `But... I misplaced my trusty zimulis. Then I... um... found it on my deski.' " Smith's airbrush-speckled collages zoom from a closeup of a pencil to Henry leaning over a kidney-shaped desk; thus, "zimulis" and "deski" enter the vocabulary. Henry goes on to describe being crowned "kuningas" of another planet and almost getting shot with a "blassa." A "Decoder" at the back of the book reveals that all 20 unfamiliar terms are either non-English (the Dutch "speelplaats" means "playground") or wordplay ("flying saucer" becomes "sighing flosser"). Contextual cues allow readers with no prior knowledge of Italian, Latvian or Polish to comprehend Henry P.'s hyperboles: "I jammed the razzo controls with my zimulis so I could land behind szkola and still be on time," says Henry, and Smith pictures a rocket console, a variety of dials and Henry's pencil. Amateur linguists will have a field day exploring this non-nonsense. All ages. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 1-5-A small green alien would have been exactly on time for class, he explains to his teacher, except for the fact that he misplaced his zimulis (pencil)-and so begins a hoot of a tall tale "received and decoded" from deep space by Scieszka with "visual recreation" by Smith, his cohort in hip hilarity. This could be the story of any Earthling student with a vivid imagination who needs to come up with "one very good and very believable excuse." In short action-packed sentences, Henry describes an adventure involving a torakku (truck), razzo (rocket), funny piksas (pictures), and a narrowly avoided zerplatzen (you guessed it!) all over the speelplaats (playground). The trusty zimulis makes several appearances throughout the fast-moving narrative, culminating in a final (dis)appearance at story's end. The "outer space" vocabulary is culled from languages from Dutch to Welsh, with a few transpositions and spoonerisms tossed in. A handy word decoder is included. Smith's intricate illustrations/assemblages work perfectly with bold white-on-black text blocks. This title continues the slightly subversive bent of other Scieszka and Smith collaborations like Math Curse (1995) and Squids Will Be Squids (1998, both Viking) with its silly yet sly wit and clever styling. Wrapped in an eye-catching, high-tech silver cover, Baloney is sure to fly off the shelves and out the pordo (door) of your library.-Mary Ann Carcich, Mattituck-Laurel Public Library, Mattituck, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.