Reviews for Knucklehead : Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka

Booklist Reviews 2008 September #1
In this arch, glib, unapologetically shame-free outing, Scieszka, who grew up as the second of six sons, has written an autobiography about boys, for boys and anyone else interested in baseball, fire, and peeing on stuff. The format of the book is perfectly suited to both casual and reluctant readers. The text is divided into two- to three-page nonsequential chapters and peppered with scrapbook snapshots and comic-book-ad reproductions. The accessibly irreverent language pushes the boundaries of moderation even as it reflects a sort of skewed wholesomeness. But the real testosterone payoff here is in the stories, which range from losing battles with fractious parochial-school nuns to taking turns watching little brothers (wherein the author watched brother number six eat a cigarette butt and charged neighborhood kids to watch him do it again). By themselves, the chapters entertain with abrupt, vulgar fun. Taken together, they offer a look at the makings of one very funny author and a happy answer to the dreaded autobiography book report. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
Scieszka offers entertaining and allegedly true tales from his Michigan childhood, growing up in a family of six boys and two blessedly good-natured parents. Short, conversational paragraphs showcase his expertly timed delivery. The anecdotes are loosely chronological but discrete, and the book's browsability is enhanced by a profusion of family photos. There's also a helpful index: "smartest, 11; see also Jon." Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #6
Our reigning ambassador of children's literature offers three dozen or so entertaining and allegedly true tales from his childhood in Michigan, growing up in a family of six boys and two blessedly good-natured parents. Short, conversational paragraphs showcase Scieszka's instantly recognizable, expertly timed delivery: "There are a lot of advantages to being one of the oldest in a big family. You get more food. You get newer clothes. You get more attention. You get to beat up on the smaller brothers." And who could have known how much this prankster enjoyed military academy: "It was the place where I learned to really truly read, to write, to learn how to learn." The anecdotes are loosely chronological but discrete, and the browsability of the book is enhanced by a profusion of family photos. There's also a helpful index: "smartest, 11; see also Jon." Scieszka's legion of young fans will enjoy this; it might have even more appeal to the dads and granddads who identified with Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 September #1
Offering an answer to the perennial query about where his ideas come from, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature looks back to his early 1960s youth. Fans will not be surprised to learn that, except for his mother (a nurse, fortunately) he grew up in an all-male household: father, five brothers and "even our dogs and cats and fish." The resulting memories include group pukes in the back seat, slipping toy soldiers into the Christmas crèche, playing neighborhood games like "Slaughterball" and idyllic summer expeditions into the woods around his grandparents' cottage--not to mention the pleasures of random dips into the household children's encyclopedia and spurning "those weirdos Dick and Jane" to "find out more about real things like dogs in cars and cats in hats." Illustrated with truly dorky school-yearbook photos and family snapshots, this account of a thoroughly normal childhood doesn't match Gary Paulsen's memoirs for hilarity or Tomie DePaola's for cultural insight, but it will draw chuckles of amusement from middle-graders (particularly less eager readers) and of recognition from their parents and grandparents. (Autobiography. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 October

Gr 3-6-- Just try to keep kids away from this collection. Inspired book design makes the volume look like an old-school comic. The front cover features an elementary-aged Scieszka popping up out of a military tank, surrounded by explosions and bombers, while the back advertises a "Treasure Chest of Fun" and displays chapter titles and excerpts along with nostalgic graphics. Scieszka answers the oft-asked question, "Where do you get your ideas?" with a slew of childhood anecdotes and his family's escapades that have given him plenty of material from which to draw. Born in 1954, the second of six brothers, he writes about Catholic and military schools, buying gifts, chores, and hand-me-downs--all familiar experiences related with a specific Scieszka twist. His mother, a nurse, insisted that her sons use proper terms for anatomy ("rectum" rather than "butt") and bodily functions ("urinate" rather than "pee"), making way for several laugh-out-loud moments. Some stories are just amiably funny, such as wearing recycled Halloween costumes, while others help readers understand more about how the author developed his unique sense of humor. Although it includes the car trip story from Guys Write for Guys Read (Viking, 2005), Knucklehead is aimed at a younger audience. Family photographs and other period illustrations appear throughout. Entertaining and fast-moving, silly and sweet, this homage to family life is not to be missed.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

[Page 174]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.