I grew up reading many of Jon Scieszka’s books, but I did not figure out they were all from the same author until I was picking out books for my own children. He was also one of my mother’s favorite authors in her years as an elementary school teacher. Do I need any other reason to love him? (Mama knows best, after all.) It’s been an absolute delight reading through his website and reading his past interviews online. One brief example: instead of a FAQ page, he has a FAFAQ (Favorite Answers to Frequently Asked Questions) page that contains his answers but not the question he’s answering. Who thinks to organize a website that way? Someone much weirder and funnier than I am.
About the Author
Jon Scieszka is the grandson of Polish immigrants, the son of a registered nurse and an elementary school principal, and the second of six boys (no sisters!). After earning an MFA from Columbia, he spent years painting apartments and teaching elementary school. His early attempts at writing were (in his words), “tortured adult fiction.” It was his years as an elementary school teacher that helped him realize he still did want to be an author, but for children instead of adults because kids are so smart and really enjoy the wacky stories he likes to write. He is funny and weird (like his books) and extremely prolific. He is also very passionate about reading and books, especially for reluctant readers. He is the founder of the website and literacy program Guys Read and was the very first National Ambassador for Children’s Literature in 2008.
About the Books
He paired up with illustrator Lane Smith for his first book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. The book was rejected repeatedly before its publication in 1989, being called too dark or too sophisticated. He is also the author of fractured or reimagined fairy tales (The Stinky Cheese Man, The Frog Prince Continued), The Time Warp Trio series, and the favorite book of math teachers everywhere, Math Curse. I will admit that some of his books are a little too weird for me, but I’m okay with that. I think it may be that I am too old (and have been an old soul forever). I heard an interview with Jonathan Auxier recently where he says some books are meant to be discovered by children, not given to them by adults. He specifically cited The Stinky Cheese Man as one such book. He thinks it ruins some of the book’s delight to have a teacher or parent introduce it.
I find that I use The True Story of the Three Little Pigs all the time in school, so it feels like cheating to pick it as a favorite. My favorites to just sit down and read are The Time Warp Trio books, Science Verse, and Squids Will Be Squids. My very favorite thing he does, however, is the Guys Read website. If you haven’t spent time with Guys Read, do! There is so much great information available, in addition to lists and suggestions for getting boys reading. (And no, they aren’t just books about sports, although those lists are on the website too.)
You can read more about Jon Scieszka (and get a feel for his sense of humor) on his website here.