From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5-9–Scieszka has put together a diverse and fast-paced anthology of scribblings and stories that deserves a permanent place in any collection serving middle graders. The book features brief contributions from scores of heavyweight authors and illustrators like Walter Dean Myers, Dan Gutman, Chris Crutcher, Avi, Brian Jacques, Dav Pilkey, Stephen King, Daniel Pinkwater, Jerry Spinelli, Will Hobbs, Chris Van Allsburg, Laurence Yep, and frequent collaborator Lane Smith. If there's one overarching theme here, it's the simple but important message: "read what you like, when you like, whatever that happens to be." Several other themes reappear in multiple selections. Among them are the importance of fathers, what it is to become a "real" man, how childhood reading predicted and shaped an author's future, adventures and misadventures in sports, why it's okay to be a "guy's guy," and, conversely, never being a "guy's guy" and finding out that that's okay, too. Boys who are constantly doodling–even when they're not supposed to–will be particularly inspired by contributions from successful illustrators like Tony DiTerlizzi, Timothy Basil Ering, and Brett Helquist, who've dug up their old, shaky drawings from parents' attics to show boys just what they were creating when they were kids. While the anthology arguably contains not one single masterpiece, there's something undeniably grand about this collective celebration of the intellectual life of the common boy.–Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
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Gr. 6-9. More than 80 guys (from Lloyd Alexander to Paul Zelinsky) contribute very short anecdotes about their boyhood. Scieszka has truly compiled a who's who of male writers, many from the YA world: Chris Crutcher reminisces about a disgusting high-school initiation rite involving raw oysters; M. T. Anderson recalls his constant worrying; Richard Peck writes of a Halloween prank gone awry; and Darren Shaw provides a "manguyifesto," asserting that guys burp and wrestle and "don't do pink." True, a few of the entries read like old guys reminiscing about the halcyon days of boyhood, which may make it difficult for some kids to connect, but fans will want to read about individual authors, and the inclusion of a bibliography for each writer will make it easy to find more books. Short entries and often lively subject matter make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. All in all, it's fun to read true stories from the lives of well-loved authors, and these fellas certainly know how to spin a yarn. John Green
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