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Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 15, 1998
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This is a bargain book and quantities are limited. Bargain books are new but could include a small mark from the publisher and an Amazon.com price sticker identifying them as such. Details
--This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every once in a while a book crosses our desks that makes us sit quietly delighted--except for a few squeaks of unmitigated joy--and this oversized, energized, stylized, highly prized book of fables is one of them. Jon Scieszka has a simple philosophy of the fable: "If you can't say something nice about someone, change the guy's name to Donkey or Squid." After all, the alleged Aesop did it. Squids Will Be Squids offers lessons such as "Everyone knows frogs can't skateboard, but it's kind of sad that they believe everything they see on TV." Sure, it's goofy, but it's also saying to kids, "Don't believe everything you see on TV." In "Duckbilled Platypus vs. Beefsnakstick," the bragging platypus and his beefy buddy teach us "Just because you have a lot of stuff, don't think you're so special." Of course, there is nothing heavy-handed here--morals such as "He who smelt it, dealt it" and "Elephants never forget, except sometimes" satirically prance amid the more heartfelt snippets of sagacity.

Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith are unparalleled in their eccentricity and unrelenting in their boyish, twisted-yet-innocent zeal. In co-creations from The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales to The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs to Math Curse, Scieszka's wacko sense of humor and Smith's quirky, always gorgeous artwork thrillingly congeal in Molly Leach's creative, exuberant design. We see many picture books that are better suited for adults than kids, but this fine specimen is truly meant for goofballs of all ages. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustration © 1998 Lane Smith, reproduced with permission of Viking, a division of Penguin Putnam.) (All ages) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Scieszka and Smith, creators of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, turn their attention away from fairy tales to reinvent the fable, thinly disguising sage bits of advice as pithy morals. Foxes and grapes are too pedestrian for these veteran absurdists, who tackle boastfulness in "Duckbilled Platypus vs. BeefSnakStikR" and who denounce vanity in the story of a skateboarding frog. Unusual characters notwithstanding, each piece highlights an everyday, modern situation in the manner of Aesop's classics. Topics in these 18 tales hit the bull's-eye, running the gamut from the toxic clique (Shark, Wasp and Bacteria wonder why no one eats lunch at their table; "Moral: Think about it") to the dynamics of a group project (Rock, Scissors and Paper all blame one another for their bad grade; "Moral: Shoot") to handling friends and family. In "Termite, Ant, & Echidna," for instance, foolish Ant throws aside his best friend when he meets a new playground pal, realizing too late that "Echidna is another name for Spiny Anteater." Scieszka ventures deep into child appeal territory, as in a gas-passing anecdote about a skunk, musk ox and cabbage ("Moral: He who smelt it, dealt it"). Smith ardently keeps pace with Scieszka's leaps of fancy, lending credence to a talking piece of toast, a walrus with a phone and a spiny, spiteful blowfish. In one full-bleed painting, little green Grasshopper cowers in the giant shadow of his mother as she grills him about his homework; strokes of eggplant-colored paint extend the sweeping size of her tentacle-like appendages, while splatters of softer shades suggest the sweat from her brow. In another, the titular fable, Smith utilizes a cartoon-like progression of panels to contrast the animated expressions of Deer, Mouse and Rabbit as they enthusiastically attempt to plan an outing with that of the deadpan, naysayer Squid. Meanwhile the design, with text printed in three typefaces of multiple sizes and colors, drives home each moral. The oversize format allows for a variety of page layouts, not to mention an in-your-face attitude that will hold readers' rapt attention. Unlike Paul and Marc Rosenthal's satiric effort in Yo, Aesop! Get a Load of These Fables (Children's Forecasts, Mar. 23), this crafty volume pays tribute to the original fables' economy and moral intent. Scieszka and Smith thriftily present one tale per spread, and beneath this duo's playful eccentricity readers will discover some powerful insights into human nature. Ages 7-9.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; First Edition edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067088135X
  • ASIN: B0006IXIQE
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.4 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,625,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To get an idea of Scieszka's humor, let me tell you about howhe once introduced himself to a group of kids. "Hieveryone," he said... "Now I know some of you have been having a little trouble with my name. It's not that hard, really. Let's all say it together... Ready? ... JOHN!"
Well, the kids squealed in delight, recognizing that here was a guy in tune with their own inner "smart-alecs." This particular book, "Squids Will Be Squids," is perhaps the most lucid product of Scieszka's irreverent imagination. It is is basically a re-telling of familiar and not-so-familiar fables, but with unexpected, and very funny twists at the end. The humor is such that both kids and adults will snicker, and it is enhanced by Lane Smith's appropriately bizzare character illustrations.
This is a book for any kid who is catching on (or becoming a pro) in the art of gentle sarcasm. There is a fable about why kids in the cafeteria don't want to eat lunch with Shark, Wasp, and Bacteria, and the punchline is classic. Another is a tale that warps around, and totally reinterprets, the otherwise sage advice, "Don't Play with Matches."
I've read some of these fables out loud (in funny voices) to college students, who couldn't seem to get enough of them. (Made me wonder if they were deprived of being read to while youngsters). One later told me that she purchased a copy of "Squids will Be Squids" for her former high-school science teacher, and he has been thanking her ever since. Like Gary Larson's "Far Side" cartoons? Then you're just gonna' love this!
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Format: Hardcover
We have had this book for over a year and purchased it afterbeing lucky enough to hear a reading of it by the author before it wasreleased. I have six children ranging in age from 4 to 16 and each one of us loves this book for different reasons. I love it becuase it is one of a very few childrens' books which is really funny in a smart way. My four year old loves it for the stories and the great and intriguing illustrations, and my nine year old boy loves it for the nine year old boy appeal it obviously has. Everyone else loves it for their own reasons but it is read over and over again and our four year old can ALWAYS capture a family member to read it to her which is not always the case with other books.
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Format: Hardcover
Just a note of caution- this book looked great to me, so I sent it to my five-year-old neice. While the stories were cute, the "morals" weren't really morals and it kind of sent the wrong message. The book would be better suited to a higher age group so that they "got" the irony and subtleties of the stories.
Wonderful illustrations and great text - just a little too mature for 4-8 year olds.
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Format: Hardcover
I came across this book while browsing at random. The artwork alone is enough to recommend it, but the stories are absolutely hillarious. My favorite is the one about the grasshopper who waited until the last minute to start his homework. Some people may think this book is a bit too "mature" for young kids. I don't agree. Even kids who don't understand all the nuances will like it (if only for the pictures). And the grown-ups reading it to their kids won't get bored. If you have kids, or need to buy a present for a youngster you know make it this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book for my son who is 9...over the 4-8 age reccommendation for this book. I knew it would be funny and he would enjoy it...and boy did he! The book has "boy appeal"... and general "ha-ha-ho-ho's" abound. We read it the first time for laughs...we will read it again and I will encourage him to see if there is anything "deeper" in the stories.... He really enjoyed the pictures alot. He is at the age when at school he is only allowed to read "chapter" books so this was a wonderful break and fun return back to picture books. Although some of the stories did have meaning to them...Some were just fun and all the pictures were wonderful. I enjoy allowing my son to read some things for the pure pleasure and pure fun of reading...this is a perfect choice for that.
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Format: Hardcover
Those of us who remember Jon Sciezka and Lane Smith as the author and illustrator of "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!" will know exactly what they are getting into when they pick up "Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables." The thesis here is that even before Aesop a legion of storytellers have told stories about annoying, weird, pain-in-the-neck people, turned them into animals, added a moral, and thereby changed rude gossip and bad jokes into fables. The idea here is present a collection of fables that Aesop might be telling if he was alive today. The moral, according to Sciezka and Smith, is that "If you can't say something nice about someone, change the guy's name to Donkey or Squid."
What young readers will find in these inventive fables are not lessons about necessity being the mother of invention or look before you leap, but more practical concerns for the modern world such as do not believe everything you see on TV, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and just because you have a lot of stuff do not think you are so special. Some of the fables you need to think about to get to the real point, such as the moral "Don't play with matches," which is really about something even worse than matches (i.e., people you are warned to stay away from). Throughout the book you will find a constant onslaught of wicked humor (the grasshopper's history assignment is priceless) and even if it over the heads of many young readers, they will understand the jokes down the road when they return to this book. After all, the morals of fables are supposed to be timeless, even if they were just made up for this 1998 book.
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