Great Illustrated Books

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka

By Jon Scieszka

Viking Juvenile, 2008
Pages : 106
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up
ISBN: 9780670011063

Look at this book’s comic book cover with tanks blazing and airplanes dropping bombs and explosions everywhere. See that helmeted soldier coming up from the hatch, his fist pumping the air triumphantly? Hold on a minute—that soldier looks like a kid. Hey, it is a kid—it's Jon Scieszka when he was a boy, before he got old and less svelte. In 2008, the famous author of classics like The Stinky Cheese Man, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and the “Time Warp Trio” series was appointed the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. What kind of childhood did he have? In 38 short, ridiculously funny chapters, he parses his younger years through anecdotes about growing up the second oldest of six brothers in Flint, Michigan. His mom was a nurse, which was good for patching up all the injuries six boys can sustain, and Dad was an elementary school principal. What did the boys do? They broke the living room couch, experimented with “crossing swords” (and other feats involving peeing), got in trouble in Catholic school, and played with fire.

Will this give today's kids ideas? Probably none they haven't thought about, though you better read this to yourself before sharing it aloud, just in case you're squeamish. You can have your kids analyze how Scieszka's childhood influenced his life and his writing, and then get them writing their own autobiographical episodes for posterity.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

DePaola, Tomie. 26 Fairmount Avenue. Putnam, 1999.

Krull, Kathleen. The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss. Random House, 2004.

Lin, Grace. The Year of the Dog. Little, Brown, 2006.

Scieszka, Jon. Knights of the Kitchen Table. Viking, 1991.

Scieszka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Viking, 1992.

Scieszka, Jon. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Viking, 1989.

S�_s, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. Farrar/Frances Foster, 2007.

Critics have said

"Just try to keep kids away from this collection. Entertaining and fast-moving, silly and sweet, this homage to family life is not to be missed. "
School Library Journal

"Will draw chuckles of amusement from middle-graders (particularly less eager readers) and of recognition from their parents and grandparents. "