The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka (J)

The Stinky Cheese Man

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales

Jon Scieskza (Juvenile Fiction)

Meet Jack:  adventurer, trespasser, thief, giant agitator, and—for this particular occasion—narrator of our story.  But this isn’t just any story, but rather several stories.  Stories of a princess, a fibbing frog, a giant, a tortoise and a rather hairy hare, an athletic little girl, an obnoxious chicken, and yes, a stinky cheese man.  These stories will not only entertain, amuse, and delight, but they may—one day—just save your life!  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Jack.

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales is a wonderful read-out-loud book that will undoubtedly induce a few chuckles, giggles, guffaws and perhaps an eyeroll or two.  But make no mistake that the star of this book is not the stories, but rather the incredible, award-winning artwork of Lane Smith (who collaborated with Jon Scieszka again in creating The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!).  His over-the-top, dark, eclectic, multi-media illustrations earned Smith the 1993 Caldecott Medal Honor award and are the very vibrant and outlandish heart of this outrageously enchanting book.  Lacking any moral lessons whatsoever, unless you count “When in the presence of giants, it’s best to keep your mouth shut” or “Sometimes there is no happy ever after so get over it”, Scieszka encourages us to see the ridiculous side of life, to accept life for what it is, and to remind us that sometimes tales, even fairly stupid ones, can simply be enjoyed without having an ulterior motive.

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, known for his own fairy tales, once said, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.”  Indeed, it is.  So, here’s to living life to its fullest, filling it with plenty of laughter and silliness, and creating your own happily ever after because if you don’t, you just might get eaten up by a giant.  The End.

Rating: 4/5

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The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (J)

Tween & Teen Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we review either a juvenile (J) or young adult (YA) book


The Tale of Despereaux (J)

Kate DiCamillo

“This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse.  A small mouse.  The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of his litter to be born alive.”

So begins DiCamillo’s beautiful and heartwarming tale of a mouse with a heart almost as big as his ears.  Despereaux Tilling loves music and stories.  He dreams of knights and princesses and faraway places.  After an unfortunate accident plunges the kingdom of Dor into darkness and despair, it will be up to this one small, unlikely hero—with such very large ears—to save the day.

DiCamillo weaves a wondrous and captivating story that will enchant readers both young and old.  With very short chapters, this book is ideal for younger readers or could be set on a nightstand for shared bedtime reading.

I hope that Despereaux not only finds a permanent place on your bookshelf, but in your heart as well.

Rating: 5/5