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Skinnybones Paperback – July 8, 1997


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Revised edition (July 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067988792X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679887928
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two comic novels portray the struggles of middle-grade boys trying to fit in. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Barbara Park is one of the funniest writers around"-Booklist


From the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

I grew up in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. It was a small town surrounded by farmland . . . the kind of town where you greet people by name on Main Street. It was only an hour's drive to the ocean. So every summer we spent family vacations on Long Beach Island. My brother and I would ride the waves during the day and play miniature golf at night. It's the kind of idyllic memory that stays in your head long after you've grown up and moved away.
After graduating from high school and spending two years at Rider University, I transferred to the University of Alabama where I met my husband, Richard. Eventually his job brought him to Arizona. We both fell in love with the desert and wanted to stay here forever. Still, during the heat of the Arizona summers, those ocean memories would come rushing back. So-after years of sweaty summers-my husband and I finally built a house on Long Beach Island, the same island where my brother and I rode the waves as kids. In the story business, that's called "coming full circle." These days, Richard and I divide our time between the desert and the ocean. In the words of Junie B. Jones, I'm a lucky duck.

Q. What inspired you to start writing?

In my case, it was sort of "reverse" inspiration. I got a degree in secondary education. My plan was to teach high school history and political science. But, because of a scheduling problem my senior year, I ended up doing my student teaching in the seventh grade. The word disaster doesn't really cover this one. I'll spare you the details. But as I ran screaming from the school building every day, I knew that I would never be a teacher. My husband and I married after graduation, and started a family. A few years later, when I was ready to go to work, I was still haunted by the memories of student teaching. So I was "inspired" to try my hand at writing instead.

Q. How did you go about getting published?

The first children's novel I wrote was Operation: Dump the Chump. As soon as it was finished, I bought a copy of Writer's Market, found some addresses, and started sending it off to publishers who were accepting unsolicited manuscripts. It was rejected three times. All three rejections managed to work in the classic industry one-liner, "It isn't right for our list."

The fourth time I sent it to Alfred Knopf, Inc. A few weeks later, they called and said it was exactly right for their list. I felt like I'd hit the lottery.

Q: You've written middle-grade novels, early chapter books, and picture books. Which do you like writing best?

I can't really say which I like best. But after all the Junie B. books I've written, those certainly come the easiest. The middle-grade novels are more of a challenge. But in some ways, that makes them more rewarding. The last two I've written (Mick Harte Was Here and The Graduation of Jake Moon) were both about very sensitive topics, so it took a long time to get them exactly right. But I think those two books have made me the most proud.

Q. Tell us about your most recent picture book.

It's called, MA! There's Nothing to Do Here! It's about a baby in utero who is bored out of his mind. The idea for it was born (so to speak) when my daughter-in-law, Renee, invited me to my first grandson's ultrasound. Although I had never had an ultrasound myself, I'd seen pictures of other babies in utero. But I wasn't prepared for how amazing it would be to see my own little grandbaby on that screen. I felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel.

Q. How much did you continue to think about the baby after seeing the ultrasound? How did this develop into the idea for the book?

A. On the way out of the doctor's office, I remember thinking, Okay, so now we're all going back to our busy lives. But the baby is still in there just floating around. Except for an occasional kick or hiccup, he's got absolutely nothing to do.

A few months later-when I was getting ready to give Renee a baby shower-I wrote this poem, framed it, and gave it to her as a shower gift.

Q. Of the characters you've created, who is your favorite?

A. This would be a bit like picking a favorite child. I don't have a single favorite character, but again, I lived with the characters Mick and Phoebe Harte and Jake and Skelly Moon for a very long time. So those four are the most dear to me.

The characters I've had the most fun with have been the little ones. Little kids are so free to say whatever is on their minds. They aren't silenced by peer pressure and the notion that they have to sound cool. Molly Vera Thompson in The Kid in the Red Jacket is six, and Thomas Russo in My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters is five. They both were such fun to write about that they led to the creation of Junie B. Jones.

Q. Is Junie B. modeled after you as a child? Did you ever do any of the things that Junie B. does?

A. I was sent to "Principal" in first grade for talking. There were lots of notes sent home that year, as well. My father was on the Board of Education. Not good.

Q. There's been some criticism of the Junie-speak in the series. How do you answer concerns that Junie's grammar is not good for young readers?

A. Honestly, most of the grown-ups I hear from are writing to tell me that Junie B. Jones got their reluctant readers to read. I have drawers full of letters from parents and teachers that are so meaningful to me, I can't bear to part with them. These are adults who understand that fictional literature plays a whole different role in children's lives than a book of grammar or a basic reader.

That having been said, there are always going to be a handful of people who denigrate books that speak in a voice other than their own. I've stopped trying to explain the concept of literature to people like that. Wasted time better spent.

8. What makes you laugh?

My sense of humor is a little bit off-center, I think. In the movies, I usually laugh at parts that no one else seems to think are funny. Then there are movies like Young Frankenstein where I laugh from the opening scene straight through to the end.

Lots of other things make me laugh, as well. My husband and sons make me laugh. My dog. My grandsons. Friends. The absurdities of life. My lopsided cakes. The list goes on . . .

What advice do you have for teachers that are aspiring writers? For kids?

There's nothing revolutionary in my advice, I'm afraid. It's the same old stuff. Write as much and as often as you can. Try different genres to find your niche. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And-above all-be your own worst critic.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I begin the year reading this book to my 4th grade class at snack time.
Jennifer Nelson
I think it's a great book to hook boys into reading as it's about baseball, but I laughed just as loud as a girl.
Jessica E. Bowen
The first time I read this book I literally fell out of bed from laughing so hard.
Susan Zuckerman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Susan Zuckerman on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first time I read this book I literally fell out of bed from laughing so hard. As a teacher, I read this book to my class nearly every year, and they love it! Alex is an endearing underdog who tries so hard to be what he is not: a size Large, knowledgeable baseball player. When he hears that a player is going to bunt he hasn't a clue what bunting means. He guesses it might mean to throw up, and this leads into the funniest scene I've ever read in children's literature. Every time I have to read it aloud I hardly can get through; I'm laughing so hard all my mascara runs. My class always gets an incredibly healthy, side-splitting, laugh from Alex's antics. He's also a very real character, with an inferiority complex, and a quirky way of viewing the world. He does find his strength in the end: comedy writing. This leads him into the sequel, Almost Starring Skinnybones, where his inferiorty complex turns into boasting bravado. One of the great qualitities of these books is Alex's depth of character, a real study in what can make "class clowns". I think the kids gain some understanding into the possiblity of sadness beneath the hilarity and the attention-seeking.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was great! Everybody should read this book. My teacher read it to me in third grade. The whole class always laughed and always wanted the teacher to read more. The book is about a boy named Alex. He always lies, is a terrible baseball player, and always gets himself into terrible messes. Then, there is the jerk, T.J. who is a great baseball player. Everybody thinks he is all that and he is always picking on Alex about his size and what a bad baseball player he is. Read this book! I would reccomend it to anyone!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "iloveprovence" on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
When my grown son was in the third grade, I heard him laughing hysterically in his bedroom while I was cooking dinner. I had never heard him laugh and giggle so much! He told me a little bit about the story, and when he had gone to sleep, I picked it up and read it. It IS wonderful! I found myself laughing as much as my son had. The tale centers on Alex, a small kid who is the class clown and loves baseball. He is a very realistic character with whom children can identify, and he does some crazy things ( a lot with what he says ) that result in some hilarious situations. Kids really love this book! And so do many adults. It gives the reader a lot of pleasure as well as see the trials and errors of childhood in a fun, yet realistic manner. The author, Barbara Parks, has updated this little gem for today's readers, and it is just as wonderful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
I LIKED THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS HILARIOUS. I ALSO LIKED THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT TALKS ABOUT BASEBALL, I LOVE BOOKS THAT TALK ABOUT
SPORTS, IT JUST MAKES THEM MORE INTERESTING.MY FAVORITE CHARACTER
WAS THE LITTLE BOY THAT WAS SKINNY BECAUSE HE MAKES A BUNCH OF FUNNY JOKES. I ALSO LIKED THE BULLY BECAUSE HE HAS A FAMILY MEMBER THAT IS IN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL AND HE'S GOOD AT SPORTS.
MY FAVORITE PART OF THE BOOK WAS WHEN THE SKINNY BOY WON THE CONTEST ON CAT FOOD. I LIKED THIS PART BECAUSE IT FIT IN THE BOOK AT THE PERFECT TIME AND THERE WAS SOME GOOD JOKES AT THAT TIME IN THE BOOK. THE ENDING WAS GREAT BECAUSE EVERY BODY WAS HAPPY EXCEPT THE BULLY.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dani Peterson on April 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Alex "Skinnybones" Frankovitch is a memerable character from one of my favorite books as a young adult. Barbra Park delivers a story about a young boy who feels out of place and uses humor as a defense. This book still makes me laugh out loud, and I think children of all ages can relate to Alex because he is the underdog that always see to get himself into some kind of trouble. I am studying to be an elementary teacher and I planning on reading this book to my class because I know I will enjoy it as much as they will!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I throughly enjoyed reading this book to my class this year. I laughed the entire time, so did they! It's great for any age, I've used it in both fourth and second grades and it's always a bit hit! This book takes a look at the lighter side of being the underdog as a kid. Skinnybones/Alex is a thrill a minute and Park uses everyday words and phrases that keep everyone rolling! This makes it REAL easy to "get into character" while reading, that's part of why it's so well liked, kids love watching adults act like nuts every once in a while. I highly recommend this one!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is really good. I started reading it in school one day. I loved it so much that I brought it home to read. I finished that night. It's a book about a boy named Alex Frankovich that plays baseball on a little leage team. He stinks at it. You'll find out why T.J. Stoner is his worst enemy! He also has a great sense of humor. That's why I liked it. It was so funny. I'm a girl. I do ballet, and I still liked it! (Even though it was about baseball.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
This story is about a little boy who likes baseball and won a contest to be on a TV commercial. He is the smallest boy on his baseball team. I like this story because it is funny. But, I thought this story had too much fantasy in it. It would be better if it spent more time dealing with baseball games instead of Alex getting beat up.
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