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Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka Paperback – October 2, 2008


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Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka + Guys Read: Funny Business + Guys Read: Thriller
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 106 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; First Edition edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001138X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011384
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Just try to keep kids away from this collection. Inspired book design makes the volume look like an old-school comic. The front cover features an elementary-aged Scieszka popping up out of a military tank, surrounded by explosions and bombers, while the back advertises a "Treasure Chest of Fun" and displays chapter titles and excerpts along with nostalgic graphics. Scieszka answers the oft-asked question, "Where do you get your ideas?" with a slew of childhood anecdotes and his family's escapades that have given him plenty of material from which to draw. Born in 1954, the second of six brothers, he writes about Catholic and military schools, buying gifts, chores, and hand-me-downs—all familiar experiences related with a specific Scieszka twist. His mother, a nurse, insisted that her sons use proper terms for anatomy ("rectum" rather than "butt") and bodily functions ("urinate" rather than "pee"), making way for several laugh-out-loud moments. Some stories are just amiably funny, such as wearing recycled Halloween costumes, while others help readers understand more about how the author developed his unique sense of humor. Although it includes the car trip story from Guys Write for Guys Read (Viking, 2005), Knucklehead is aimed at a younger audience. Family photographs and other period illustrations appear throughout. Entertaining and fast-moving, silly and sweet, this homage to family life is not to be missed.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In this arch, glib, unapologetically shame-free outing, Scieszka, who grew up as the second of six sons, has written an autobiography about boys, for boys and anyone else interested in baseball, fire, and peeing on stuff. The format of the book is perfectly suited to both casual and reluctant readers. The text is divided into two- to three-page nonsequential chapters and peppered with scrapbook snapshots and comic-book-ad reproductions. The accessibly irreverent language pushes the boundaries of moderation even as it reflects a sort of skewed wholesomeness. But the real testosterone payoff here is in the stories, which range from losing battles with fractious parochial-school nuns to taking turns “watching” little brothers (wherein the author watched brother number six eat a cigarette butt and charged neighborhood kids to watch him do it again). By themselves, the chapters entertain with abrupt, vulgar fun. Taken together, they offer a look at the makings of one very funny author—and a happy answer to the dreaded autobiography book report. Grades 4-7. --Thom Barthelmess --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

[DRUM ROLL.....] PRESENTING THE ONE AND ONLY JON SCIESZKA!

Jon Scieszka was born in Flint, Michigan on September 8th, 1954. He grew up with five brothers, has the same birthday as Peter Sellers and the Virgin Mary, and a sneaking suspicion that the characters in his Dick and Jane reader were not of this world. Those plain facts, plus his elementary school principal dad, Louis, his registered nurse mom, Shirley (who once took Jon's Cub Scout den on a field trip to the prenatal ward), Mad Magazine, four years of pre-med undergrad, "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show", an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia University, Robert Benchley, five years of painting apartments in New York City, his lovely wife Jeri Hansen who introduced him to Molly Leach and Lane Smith, Green Eggs and Ham, his teenage daughter Casey and almost teenage son Jake, ten years of teaching a little bit of everything from first grade to eighth grade, and the last twenty years of living in Brooklyn...are just some of Jon's answers to the questions, "Where do you get your ideas?" and/or "How did you become a writer?" I don't know, just because, none of your beeswax, and flapdoodle poppycock and balderdash are some more of Jon's answers to questions you can imagine on your own. Jon met up with Lane Smith around 1986 or so, and nothing has been the same since. Their first book, the wiseguy fairy tale retelling, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! was initially rejected by most publishers as "too weird" and "too sophisticated". Published by Viking in 1989, The True Story has now sold over a million copies, been translated into ten languages, and been called a "classic picture book for all ages". Jon and Lane's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) took the world of the picture book a few steps further. Goofing with the conventions of fairy tales and even being a book, The Stinky Cheese Man became a household word, sold another mess of copies in multiple languages, offended a few purists, and still managed to win a Caldecott Honor medal. Math Curse (1995) further stretched the notion of what subjects make good picture books, selling more books faster than either 3 Little Pigs or Stinky Cheese, and winning a whole slew of awards --all for a book full of mathematics.More recently, Jon and Lane have resurrected fables (in the smart, funny, and a little bit wicked way Aesop would have wanted them) in their latest collaboration, Squids Will Be Squids (1998). No telling where they might take the picture book next. Someone once wrote, "Jon Scieszka has forever changed the face of children's literature." And while there is still some confusion over exactly who that someone was, and whether children's literature does, in fact, have a face, most would agree-from The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! to Squids Will Be Squids, since Scieszka put pen to paper, children's literature sure has been...different.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4 star
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See all 54 customer reviews
He laughed out loud as he read this book.
Jshopper
Jon Scieszka tells it like it is growing up in a big family.
M. Cornett
My ten year old son read this book in one night.
lisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. Zadeh on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an awesome funny book. My husband was raised in Michigan and has a sweet routine of telling my two boys ages 6 and 11 stories of his childhood at bedtime every night. He found this book and bought it for our 11 year old. He loves it. Last night he read it outloud to me and we both laughed so hard my faced hurt! Awesome book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By 12345678 on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
As the mother of four boys (and a child of the 70s), I adore what Jon Sciezska has done for male-accessible literature. My sons are reading again and again the adventures of Jon and his brothers who "don't know" how mischief happens. Perhaps my favorite part of this book is his description of how the term "knucklehead" changed from being a deragatory term to a phrase of endearment. My boys love the funny stories of what happens when you get a pack of boys together.

We also love the book he edited, Guys Write for Guys Read, full of great authors that boys/men and the women who love them like to read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jared Castle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I came across this title after enjoying The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales with my two sons, six-year old Kai and four-year old Kou.

To call Jon Scieszka's book "Knuckleheads" self-indulgent wouldn't be entirely incorrect. However, you'd miss the greater value this family scrapbook offers to young or expectant parents - anyone considering the daunting task of raising two or more boys.

Scieszka himself is the second-oldest of six boys. And like a card game of Slap Jack, he flips from one childhood memory to another. He doesn't dwell on any one topic, nor does he attempt to defend or analyze his behavior.

I called this book a family scrapbook and that's the fairest description for 38 chapters in 108 pages. Chapter titles serve either as how-to lessons for young boys or what-to-watch-out-for cautionary tales for parents:

Chapter 2: Who Did It?
Chapter 10: Watch Your Brothers
Chapter 16: Brothersitting
Chapter 32: Stop Breathing My Air

"Knucklehead" is a humorous quick read with a comic book cover design that makes it an eye-catching coffee table book. Better yet, consider giving the book as a baby shower gift, especially if the parents already have one son.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurie A. Hedlund on December 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
My kids and I love the True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I bought this book, Knucklehead, because the author is really clever and funny. My 8 year old and I laugh out loud reading it. I would highly recommend this book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on December 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
This hilarious book of brief essays about growing up in a loving, large Catholic family in the 1960's where the author was one of six brothers is sure to make both children and adults laugh out loud. Amply illustrated with photos of the Scieszka clan, Jon Scieszka's great affection for his family comes through in every page, even in the stories of surviving Catholic school, family Christmas photos, he and his rambunctious brothers `breaking" their youngest brother, and many other mischievous antics. Plenty of nostalgia comes through in his tales of summers spent roaming around the woods in the days before Game Boys and parental fear of strangers put most boys inside the house or in organized activities.
Some "potty" humor may turn off girls, but this book is aimed straight at the reluctant boy readers Scieszka is targeting with his Guys Read initiative. A joy to read, this delightful book is a must-have for all public and school libraries and makes a great gift for adults as well as kids.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dux on November 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our nine year-old son read this and started asking my husband and me questions about our childhoods, so we each quickly read it as well. While we're significantly younger than the author and decidedly not Catholic, "Knucklehead" still provided a wonderful starting point for all of us to talk about stories from our childhoods, the nine year-old included. Accessible and heartwarming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By U Jimmy on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book captured about 80% of the "humorous" things I did growing up with brothers. My upbringing was apparently replicated by at least one other family. If you want to take a stroll back on memory lane to your childhood and reflect on how great those times were, this book is for you. It a compilation of short chapters on various activities I and the author managed to survive (what does not kill you makes you stronger... right?).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anne Williams on January 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased as a stocking stuffer for our 18 year old daughter who loved Jon Scieszka's books when she was younger.

It's a quick read and she thought it was funny and enjoyable.
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