As I mentioned in an earlier post, I picked up this book (and the fake nose and glasses!) at BEA in NYC; and while I took advantage of the opportunity to meet Jon Scieszka, I completely missed David Lubar, Adam Rex, and Mac Barnett. Sorry, guys - my loss. :-) But thanks for signing my book!
In any case, I couldn't wait to dive into Funny Business. To me, Jon Scieszka is synonymous with funny, and Funny Business doesn't disappoint. It is the first installment in the promised Guys Read Library, a ten book series of themed, short stories edited by Scieszka.
The Funny Business stories are a mixed bag of humor. Christopher Paul Curtis' contribution, "What? You Think You've Got it Rough?" is the sort of tale that families love to share. Every family has a story that's told and re-told. This is the story of Papa Red, who is "straight-up nuts," and the day that - well, no, you'll have to read it yourself. "Your Question for Author Here" by Kate DiCamillo (the only female writer in the gang) and Jon Scieszka will be a favorite, and begins with Joe Jones' school assignment, a letter to an author,
Dear Mrs. O'Toole,Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Begins" is another family story. In this case, the author's own family. Fans of Artemis Fowl will surely be interested in the real-life inspiration for the fictional criminal mastermind - Colfer's own brother, Donal! David Yoo offers humorous horror in "Fistful of Feathers," a tale of a turkey gone horribly bad,
We are reading this book in school where a kid writes to an author. So we have to write to an author. We are also studying "Parts of a Friendly Letter." So this is also a Friendly Letter. ... Please send a bunch of author stuff so we can get this over with.
I felt feverish. The turkey stood at the edge of the room, its face silhouetted, its wings slightly askew. It stared at the bed, at me. My voice was caught in my throat. I held fistfuls of green sheets. I finally managed to whisper, "What do you want?" "DIE," the turkey said."Best of Friends" by Mac Barnett is a crisply written story of fourth grade humor and misery, building up to a last line, punch line. Adam Rex contributes "Will," a sci-fi, superhero spoof. David Lubar's "Kid Appeal" is a laugh-out-loud funny tale of the stupid things that a kid will do, especially when the parents haven't a clue,
Dwight picked up the remote and switched channels. "Hey, look. Martians with chain saws. Cool. They have four arms. "Whoa," I said as the scene got violent. "Make that three arms." "This is great. I can't believe your parents don't block this channel." "They don't know how." Like with the thermostat, my parents were clueless about technology. If they ever figured out how to use any of the electronics in our house, my life wouldn't be anywhere as nice.
The reader won't see it coming at first, but Paul Feig's "My Parents Give My Bedroom to a Biker" is another sci-fi tale, and yes, they really do give the room to a biker. And, as if the boys in "Kid Appeal" aren't crazy enough, they've got nothing on the boy in Jack Gantos' "Bloody Souvenir!" Finally, there is Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid series, whose contribution is missing in the advance edition because (according to Editor Jon Scieszka),
Jeff had most of it written, but then he got a cough, and his dog started chewing on it, and he forgot to set his alarm, and it was written in washable ink and the ink washed off.It's sure to be funny. This is a great lineup of authors who are guaranteed to crack kids up, particularly boys - after all, it's written expressly for them. Teachers should make note of this collection and think about adding short story assignments to their lesson plans. It's a great way to attract the reluctant reader, offer a quicker sense of accomplishment, and open the door to new authors and genres. Guys Read: Funny Business is a winner. Can't wait to see what's next!
Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador of Children's Literature is committed to promoting reading to boys. Find out more at Guys Read.