Sunday, October 12, 2008

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

My initial thought after reading Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka was that it might be in my best interests to not share it with students. After all, the book could be taken as a how-to manual for wayward boys. Readers would learn how to sell their brother a shirt that already belongs to him, how to trick younger brothers into doing the less desirable household chores, how to make money by charging friends to watch the little brother eat gross non-food items, and just how much pressure it takes to break a clavicle.

And that’s just the family lessons. Readers also learn the finer art of playing war with dirt clods at construction sites. There are chapters about burning things, exploring storm sewers, swearing, puking, and what not to do when the teacher says, “What’s so funny?” There's also a chapter about sword fighting. (Men, you know what I’m talking about. Ladies, read the book. I’m not explaining it here.)

Then I realized that I already knew all this stuff, with a few exceptions, me being an only child. I didn’t read the book when I was a kid, yet somehow I did many of the exact same things as Mr. Scieszka. Which ones, specifically, will remain unnamed, however the truth is the truth: I lived many of the same experiences. Jon Scieszka wrote the book, for crying out loud. He didn’t learn from it!

It was an Hallelujah Chorus moment! I can give this book to any student. The boys already know all of it, and the girls won’t (or can’t…see sword fighting) try any of it. Every boy I know could take at least one of the chapters, change the names and places only, and make it their own personal narrative.

My wife and daughter stared at me every time I laughed out loud. When I shared what was so funny, they both just shook their heads and mumbled something like, “You boys. You‘re such…boys.”

You bet we are! We revel in it. We glory in it. And this book documents it.

Short chapters, mostly hilarious, and all boy friendly will make this book one that doesn’t stay on the shelf for long. Jon Scieszka (or Mr. Ambassador, which he may prefer, as he‘s been named the first National Ambassador for Young People‘s Literature by the Library of Congress) has a classic on his hands, and now your kids can have this classic in their hands too.


  1. I really want to read Knucklehead, because I want find out what it's really about, and because I want to find out if it's a good book or a great book.

  2. Alice,

    Here's what I can tell you: It's about Jon Scieszka growing up and the trouble he and his brothers found along the way.

    And as far as good vs. great? I vote great.


  3. I LOVE this book and so did my 5th graders last year! Of course I did make the mistake of not reading ahead and when I had to be out one day had the sub read a few chapters, including the one about the "sword fights". I've never heard the end of it haha!



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