Celebrating Jon Scieszka

Today, many bloggers in the kidlitosphere are taking a moment to thank our National Ambassador of Children’s Literature, the incomparable Jon Scieszka.  I did not have a lot of experience with Mr. Scieszka’s books when I began teaching.  I remembered reading (and loving) his The True Story of the Three Little Pigs as a middle schooler. But I did not realize his utter power in my classroom until his latest memoir was published; the hysterical, over-the-top, unbelievable Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing up Scieszka.

I am the oldest of six kids. When I bought Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing up Scieszka for my classroom library, I started reading it right away. It was like I was reading about my own family. I laughed so hard at times that there were tears running down my face!  Like Scieszka, I went to Catholic grammar school, came from a large family, and may have tied up a sibling or two.

The result was almost identical when I read a few passages out loud to my students later that week. Suddenly, even my most dormant readers were begging for the book.  It was passed around from student to student, with whispers of “You gotta read the story on pg. 22!”  It was a magic book with the ability to cross all gender lines.  So thank you, Mr. Scieszka, for creating books that my 6th graders love and adore.  They adore them so much that they literally read them to pieces and I need to purchase new copies fairly frequently.  And you know what?  That’s ok by me!

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

I was going to do a formal review of Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka this weekend. But then I booktalked it to both classes yesterday. And I haven’t seen it since!

Perhaps this is even better than a formal review. 🙂 When I read a few chapters aloud to my students, they were literally in hysterics. There were shouts of, “I’ve done that!” and “My mom would flip out if she knew I did this stuff, too!”. It especially seemed to connect with boys but I had quite a few girls ask to get on the waiting list, too. Thank goodness our librarian just got her copy of Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka in this week, because I know about 20 6th graders who are going to be fighting for that copy, too!

This is a fantastic book for reluctant readers and readaholics. And for anyone who has grown up with younger brothers and sisters and done all of those things your mom would die over if she found out about. I am the oldest of six and felt like I was reading about my own life, especially when Jon talked about his adventures in Catholic school and adopting “Pagan babies” in Africa. If you don’t have this one in your classroom library, you need it!

Kidlitosphere Round-up

I’m about to run out to a birthday party, but here are a few posts that I am loving today!

  • Over at Wizards Wireless you can read a great review of Gary D. Schmidt’s new novel, Trouble. Gary wrote one of my favorite novels last year- the incomparable The Wednesday Wars. I am scouring the kidlitosphere for an ARC of Trouble. In the meantime, Susan’s review will have to hold me over.
  • Stacey and Ruth of Two Writing Teachers have a new look for their blog.  The makeover is wonderful and they really run a phenomenal blog.
  • Last, but not least, The Class of 2k8 is running a contest where entrants can win a 3-pack of books.  The contest is an internet scavenger hunt and I can’t wait to participate.  The books that you can win also sound great!  Plus, The Class of 2k8 website is a great way to hear about new books from first-time authors this year.

Hopefully, these will tide you over for a bit while I enjoy a night out.  🙂