Scieszka, Jon. 2008. Knucklehead:Tall tales and mostly true stories about growing up Scieszka. New York: Viking.
If you know a reluctant reader with a biography book report assigned, and you don't point him toward Knuckleheads, you're missing a great opportunity to turn that child into a great reader. Scieszka knows his audience and his biography is right on target. His biography humorously details the events in his childhood that led him to his current success as an author. Raised in a family of six boys and hard-working parents, he has a wealth of material to work with.
He mentions his many of his favorite childhood stories, Mad Magazine, My Side of the Mountain, Go, Dog. Go!, and more. He was not a fan of Dick and Jane.
"When I read the Dick and Jane stories, I thought they were afraid they might forget each other's names. Because they always said each other's names. A lot.
So if Jane didn't see the dog, Dick would say, 'Look Jane. Look. There is the dog next to Sally, Jane. The dog is also next to Mother, Jane. The dog is next to Father, Jane. Ha, ha, ha. That is funny, Jane.'
Did I mention that Dick and Jane also had a terrible sense of humor?
At home, my mom read me real stories. These were stories that sounded like my life. These were stories that made sense. She read me a story about a guy named Sam-I-am. He was a fan of green eggs and ham."
Knuckleheads, his father's name for the collective Scieszka boys, is full of life's great lessons - read, if it sounds to good to be true - it is, listen, learn to cook (because stirring oatmeal is more fun than picking up dog poop!), have a sense of humor.
Chapter 36, "What's so funny, Mr. Scieszka?" will have the reader in stitches.
Black and white graphics and period photos and advertisements add humor and interest - Gregg's broken collarbone x-ray and the dreaded Halloween bunny suit come to mind.
This is a heartwarming and hilarious biography that will entice even the most reluctant of readers. And for budding humorists, Knuckleheads is a "must read."
A note about Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca):
Jon Scieszka is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He is probably best known for his Time Warp Trio series and The Stinky Cheese Man, although these are just a fraction of his large and growing collection of juvenile fiction, easy fiction, non-fiction, and poetry titles. His main focus is promoting reading to boys. To this end, he has two great websites: Guys Read http://www.guysread.com/ focusing on older boys, and Trucktown,
http://www.behindthepulse.com/trucktown/kidspage.php , (a site with a tortuously long url)that corresponds with his new preschool series , Trucktown.
My favorite Jon Scieszka stories? "Duck-billed Platypus vs. Beef Snack Stick," and "Straw and Matches," from Squids Will be Squids.