Thursday, December 4, 2008

Guest Blog - Jon Scieszka

As a grandmother, I am interested in children’s books. However, there are so many books out there that it is hard to know what would be an appropriate and enjoyable book for my grandchildren. I am always open to recommendations. When I heard about Jon Scieszka on NPR, I decided that I would check him out. I visited the library and literally checked out three books by Scieszka to read. I spent a happy hour or so reading children’s books but am still undecided about whether to invest in some of his books for my children’s children. I am not an expert on what appeals to children or what is appropriate.

Jon Scieszka was recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. Be sure to click on the author’s name above and read more about this interesting man. There is an interview with Martha Stewart on his site as well. He has actually been publishing books for the last twenty years but this is the first time that I have read any of his work. By the way, twenty years ago I had a preschooler.

His first book was The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! The story is narrated by A. Wolf who claims that he was framed for the accidental deaths of two of the little pigs. It is a fun revisit to the age old morality tale of the need to be a hard worker who builds a brick house instead of going for the easy job with lots of time to play. Incidentally, although I chuckled, my sympathy for Alexander T. Wolf never did overshadow my concern for the pigs. There is also a 10th Anniversary Update available with a further message from the incarcerated A. Wolf. The illustrations by Lane Smith are colorful and imaginative.

The other picture book I checked out is The Frog Prince Continued. As in so many relationships, the Frog Prince and the Princess are not living happily ever after but are struggling to get along. He gets on her nerves a lot, in fact a whole lot. Finally the Frog Prince decides that he is going to find a witch who can turn him back into a frog. He encounters several fairy tale witches along the way. Most of them are much too scary for the Frog Prince or a little reader to linger with for long. I really liked the paintings of Steve Johnson and I am sure that my granddaughters would love the prince's encounters with familiar fairy tales. And possibly they will enjoy the surprise ending more than I did. I was definitely taken by surprise. Apparently I have little or no imagination.

Jon Scieszka has plenty of imagination. He has a whole series of books for young readers about the Time Warp Trio. Three boys from Brooklyn travel back in time to visit many historical events and sites. The book I chose to read is called Da Wild Da Crazy Da Vinci. Fred, Sam and Jo with the aid of their magical book travel back to visit Leonardo when he was employed by Borgia to create military machinery. He is working on a tank when they come upon him. They encounter not only Borgia but also Machiavelli and a Captain Nassti. This series undoubtedly serves as a doorway into a world of history that children might otherwise ignore. I have just to check out whether there was really anyone named Nassti in Leonardo’s world. By the way, my local library had a great many of these books available if your reader should get interested in them.

Scieszka has a new series that is out about Trucktown. Smash Crash has been on the New York Times best seller list for several months. It was not available at the library so I might have to go browse at Barnes and Noble. It is for preschoolers and is based on four year olds of Scieszka’s acquaintance. Scieszka’s message to parents and children is to open your mind about the many options for reading. He says that television and the computer all play a role in helping children acquire the skill needed to read. If you click on some of the highlighted words you will discover some of his computer pages for books including And parents, set a good example. Read yourselves. Especially fathers. Have a home with books of all sorts “just lying around.”

Happy reading and good luck on your book selections this holiday season.


Blogger said...

Now I'm dying to know what happens with the frog at the end. I also wanted to mention that there is a cartoon series based on the Time Warp Trio books. I have watched several episodes and really enjoy it.

notaconnoisseur said...

The Frog Prince decides that he was really foolish to ever leave home in the first place. He finds his way back home. "The Prince looked at the Princess who had believed him when no one else in the world had, the Princess who had actually kissed his slimy frog lips. The Princess who loved him." Turn to last page:
"The Prince kissed the Princess. They both turned into frogs. And they hopped off happily ever after."

Silly me. It never occurred to me that they had never kissed a second time in their relationship.

Blogger said...

Maybe if they had kissed sooner they wouldn't have had so many marital problems.