Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka

Guys Write for Guys Read is a collection of 92 stories, memories, illustrations, comics, excerpts, one report card, and a forward by Jon Scieszka, all about being guys. It's a collection of who's who in children's literature. It's guys writing to guys about guys. Boys will be boys, right? Here's the proof.

Some (most?) of the greatest men in children's literature are included. Some have included excerpts, like the introduction from Gary Paulsen's How Angel Peterson Got His Name about whizzing on an electric fence. Some wrote specifically for the book, like Anthony Horowitz's story "My French Teacher Tried to Kill Me" or Gordon Korman's commentary, "Guy Things," about how great old Looney Toons cartoons are (especially the ones with oversized wooden mallets) and how NOT great a hockey uniform is if you're known as the Pretty Polly Paint and Wallpaper Falcons.

Each 1-4 page entry is followed by a short author biography and selected bibliography. If a reader finds something he enjoys, there's a handy list of where to go next.

Many guy illustrators are included too. There's the original version of No David by David Shannon, drawn when he was five. Mo Willems writes a comic strip called Aw, Nuts! about his childhood (and adult) desire to take over Peanuts for Charles Shultz. Also included are Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), Chris Van Allsburg (author of Jumanji), Brett Helquist (illustrator of the Series of Unfortunate Events and Chasing Vermeer), and others.

And yes there is one report card, a sixth grade report card for Rick Telander, who received an E- in conduct from Miss Johnson. (An E is just an F with an extra leg. Either way it ain't good.) His teacher wrote "I hope I am not too much of an 'old crab' to appreciate Rick's brand of humor. Maybe I too should stoop so low. That will be the day."

There are plenty of Miss Johnsons out there who won't appreciate this book's brand of humor. Hopefully they are smart enough to realize they have a class full of kids who will.

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