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Monday, October 7, 2013

Module 6: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Module 6: Picture Books

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
Author: Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

Book Summary:
     The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a book of “fractured” fairy-tales. The authors reinvent popular fairy tales such as the gingerbread man (renamed the Stinky Cheese Man) and Little Red Riding Hood (renamed Little Red Running Shorts). The fairy tales, or fairly stupid tales rather, have obvious endings and are not stereotypically happy. The narrator also has trouble keeping the book going. He is interrupted by the Little Red Hen, he ruins the story of Little Red Running Shorts before Red and the wolf can tell it, and he almost gets eaten by a giant. The Stinky Cheese Man is an inventive reiteration of fairy tales.

APA Book Reference:
Scieszka, J., & Smith, L. (1992).The stinky cheese man and other fairly stupid tales. New York, NY: Penguin Books USA Inc. 

There have been discussions in class about what makes a “good” picture book. Many of my classmates argued that a picture book was considered “good” when the pictures can tell a story without words. I tend to agree with them, but not in terms of this particular book. While the illustrations are amazing, I think the wit and the humor come from the words in the story. However, sometimes the words become part of the picture when the Table of Contents falls and squashes everybody, for example. I would still classify this book as a “good” picture book despite the fact that the pictures cannot speak for themselves.
Also, maybe the Scieszka and Smith pushed the boundaries of “good” picture books considering the book is basically a satire of book making anyway. The book starts on the end page, the Table of Contents is in a story, and there are upside down and blank pages.

Professional Review:
Burns, M.M. (1992). The stinky cheese man and other fairly stupid tales. Horn Book Magazine. 68(6). 720.
“Scieszka and Smith have done it again! Blend "Saturday Night Live" with "Monty Python," add a dash of Mad magazine with maybe a touch of "Fractured Fairy Tales" from the old "Rocky and Bullwinkle" show, and you have an eclectic, frenetic mix of text and pictures with a kinetic display of typefaces, rivaling the fireworks extravaganza on the Fourth of July. Even the page arrangement is unconventional, so that the entire book is a spoof on the art of book design, the art of the fairy tale, and whatever other art one might wish to parody. The individual tales are part of a zany whole in which the Little Red Hen, a kvetch if ever there was one, reappears periodically to complain about the dog, cat, and mouse who refused to help her plant her wheat. She and Jack (of beanstalk country) serve as a kind of running commentary on this theater-of-the-absurd in picture-book format. The concluding spread suggests that the annoying fowl gets her comeuppance — and not one she expected. Individual tales, such as "The Princess and the Bowling Ball," "The Really Ugly Duckling," or the title tale, "The Stinky Cheese Man," can be extracted for telling aloud — with great success. Who, after all, could resist a prince with foresight enough to substitute his bowling ball for the traditional pea under the feather mattresses to insure that he and his beloved live "happily, though maybe not completely honestly, ever after"? In addition, the collection includes "Chicken Licken" (newly revised), "The other Frog Prince," "Little Red Running Shorts," "Cinderumpelstiltskin," and "The Tortoise and the Hair." The farcical tone of the whole may carry this concoction to the attention of primary schoolers, but it will enjoy its real success among middle-school through senior-citizen audiences. Another masterpiece from the team that created The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!(Viking).”

Library Uses:
This book could be used in a program to encourage children to rewrite their own version of popular fairy tales. It could also be read along with the popular versions, and the children could compare and contrast.

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