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

4.6 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Jon Scieszka is well-known for his quirky sense of humor and ability to connect with adolescent readers, especially boys, and was named the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. His autobiography (Viking, 2008) is clearly aimed at his target audience and it hits an easy bulls-eye. Scieszka reads his book, explaining about growing up in a family of six boys in Flint, Michigan. Growing boys and common sense don't usually go together, and the author's tales from his boyhood offer plenty of evidence. Peppering the nativity scene with army soldiers, peeing on the space heater, dealing with vomiting cats on car trips, being required to write a list of bad words for his teacher (a nun), and explosions both small and large clearly explain how Scieszka turned out the way he did. There's plenty of bathroom humor here as well as wanton destruction. More than one of the many short chapters quickly overwhelms listeners with a feeling of impending doom as the boys come up with yet another "good idea." Yet through it all, there's the unmistakable feeling of togetherness, unity, and a sense of the security felt as part of a large and very forgiving family. There's even a short addendum where Scieszka talks about his writing. Listeners will laugh out loud and feel an uncontrollable urge to repeat bits of these stories to anyone who happens in range. Isn't that the best recommendation?—Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0750 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001138X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.4 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a memoir that I enjoyed more than I expected. Being a member of the author's generation, I could relate to some of the cultural references of his early childhood. Comic book titles that I loved to read back then and some TV programs that I watched were part of his early childhood. I couldn't help but laughing at many of his small anecdotes. One of my favorites is when he decides to order plastic soldiers that were often advertised in old DC comic books and his disappointment at the size of these soldiers. I thought it was funny because I always wanted to order these but never did. I bought this book because I thought it would have been useful to the classroom when discussing memoirs. Although it is not as popular as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a fictional text, undoubtedly it has some space in a 4th to 6th grade classroom as long as you know how to adapt it.
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These were great stories about the six Scieszka brothers' adventures, while they were growing up. I couldn't read them without laughing, and I felt a sense of nostalgia as I remembered my own childhood. My whole family enjoyed the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pee swords, fried urine, and cat yak.....what more could a 7 year old kid want in a book? This is such a sweet and funny collection of stories about the author's experience growing up in a family of 6 brothers. Each story is only 2-3 pages long, which is perfect for kids, and most of them are about everyday things like chores and haircuts and summer time and Cub Scouts. Its funny, and endearing. I enjoyed it as much as the kids. We wished it were longer.
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Jon did an ok job, lots of artwork and it's trendy at best, but the stories were mediocre and while he may have started to tell one story or another, he never got into any of them, why tell me uncle so and so was Airborne in Vietnam and not tell me any real bad ass stories, why throw away the time he drove a jeep into a lake?
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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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