Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales

by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Fairy Tales are stories that have been passed down for many years from one generation to another.  They are often recrafted and reshaped to suit the audience of a particular time or place.  What is so interesting about fairy tales is that the stories are very much the same all around the world.  Well, The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is anything but the same.  There are nine fractured tales stemming from our traditional tales.  Jon Scieszka is the author of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  These tales differ from that in the length.  These tales are shortened versions often trading the traditional moral for a joke.
This book is anything but typical.  It all begins on the end paper with the Little Red Hen ranting and raving about who will help her.  “Where is the lazy cat?  Where is the lazy dog? Where is the lazy mouse?”  Only to be greeted by, Jack, the narrator.  With the turn of the page one would expect the dedication page and Jack proceeds to tell us that no one ever looks at it so if you’re interested turn the book upside down to read it.  Chicken Licken begins with her tale before the table of contents.  We all know she thinks the sky is falling.  Well, something was falling and it wasn’t the sky.  It was the table of contents and it fell on all of the characters and squashed them all. 
There isn’t one thing that is consistent with this book except the adult humor.  The format of the book, the font and text size, and illustrations change throughout the book.  I am not exactly sure what type of media is used for the illustrations other than collage at times.  The endpapers at the back of the book reveal that “the illustrations are rendered in oil and vinegar.” 
This is a wild and wacky book that older children or adults are certain to enjoy.  For anyone to appreciate this book one must be familiar with the original folktales to understand the humor in this book.  It was awarded the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1993. 

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