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The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
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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

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Gr 2-6‘Nine irreverent and witty exposés of folkloric folk, ingeniously designed, outrageously illustrated, and all narrated by the ubiquitous Jack (of Beanstalk fame), with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. (Sept. 1992)

Grade-school irreverence abounds in this compendium of (extremely brief) fractured fairy tales, which might well be subtitled ``All Things Gross and Giddy.'' With a relentless application of the sarcasm that tickled readers of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs , Scieszka and Smith skewer a host of juvenile favorites: Little Red Running Shorts beats the wolf to grandmother's house; the Really Ugly Duckling matures into a Really Ugly Duck; Cinderumpelstiltskin is ``a girl who really blew it.'' Text and art work together for maximum comic impact--varying styles and sizes of type add to the illustrations' chaos, as when Chicken Licken discovers that the Table of Contents, and not the sky, is falling. Smith's art, in fact, expands upon his previous waggery to include increased interplay between characters, and even more of his intricate detail work. The collaborators' hijinks are evident in every aspect of the book, from endpapers to copyright notice. However, the zaniness and deadpan delivery that have distinguished their previous work may strike some as overdone here. This book's tone is often frenzied; its rather specialized humor, delivered with the rapid-fire pacing of a string of one-liners, at times seems almost mean-spirited. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)

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