1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up discussion

The Stinky Cheese Man: And Other Fairly Stupid Tales
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Monthly Book Club > May 2012 - The Stinky Cheese Man

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Briar Rose | 40 comments Mod
This is the official thread for The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka, one of our May reads. Please post up your thoughts about the book here.


message 2: by Emily (last edited May 04, 2012 05:54AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emily | 5 comments Did anyone else find this book a little bit underwhelming? I thought the layout was clever, but I think my kids (4, 6, and 7) were a bit too young to appreciate it. Probably more appealing for older kids, am I right? The stories really were fairly stupid, but I think I was expecting them to be stupid in a "haha" sort of way, which they weren't (at least for me). That being said, we all did enjoy Jack's {neverending} Story. It took a few repetitions before the aha! moment kicked in. My girls didn't like it as much as my son did, but I kind of expected that. I think the illustrations turned them off.

Has anyone else read it with their kids? I'm just curious how different ages respond to it.


Shawn Thrasher (Shawn_Thrasher) I think you are correct, it's probably for older kids - you have to be at least old enough to understand satire. You have to know the original stories pretty well too, in order to see that they are being fractured. I wasn't underwhelmed though - I thought it was pretty funny. Lane Smith illustrations are certainly an acquired taste.


Stephanie (OntarioGal) | 7 comments So I did read this one to my daughter, who is four almost five. The ones she knew the references for - - princess and the pea, gingerbread man, jack and the beanstalk, little red hen - - she found quite funny. Her favourite was definitely The Stinky Cheese Man, and she loved to say "Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the Stinky Cheese Man."

I was a little worried that she would find the endings abrupt and sad, but she did seem to find them funny.


Aida (Taffymyametalumi) Kind of an interesting parody, I guess. The Little Red Hen's constant intrusions were kind of funny, I thought, and I rather enjoyed Little Red Running Shorts. But I didn't like the book as much as I liked both the original fairy tales and Jon Scieszka's other books. It was funny, I liked the illustrations, but . . . eh. It was okay.


message 6: by Linda (last edited May 17, 2012 04:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Linda (LindaJane) | 41 comments When the Table of Contents squished the first story I liked the book straight off - I do like a little irreverence for book structure.

The stories were a bit 'silly', but 8yo son & I found enough references from the originals to get the gist of the characters and the slantways take on some very old tales.

In fact, since having recently read the original fairy tales many of you may be surprised at how much they've changed to today's versions. Strongly recommend Perrault's Fairy Tales for anyone who's interested in some harsher realities (!) (eg. red riding hood gets eaten by the wolf. Full stop. The End)


Briar Rose | 40 comments Mod
I didn't find the book that funny, and I'm not sure I'd put it on a list of the best children's books if I was making one. But I loved the Lane Smith illustrations, especially the textures using different materials.

My favourite story was probably the one about the Princess and the Bowling Ball, particularly the ending ("And everyone lived happily, though maybe not completely honestly ever after.")

The book reminded me a lot of one I read when I was a kid. I can't remember the name, but it was a nonsense book with fractured fairy tales and a mixed up structure. The end of the book was at the beginning, and the table of contents was backwards. I enjoyed many hours in the library puzzling it all out, and I think maybe kids might enjoy doing that with this one. So maybe while this book doesn't offer a lot to adults, it's got something for older kids who'll like the post-modern way it messes around with fairy tales, book structure and typography.


Fjóla (fjolarun) | 16 comments I didn't like this book. This may reflect that I was expecting something different, i.e. something more like a collection of parodied fairy tales. And I was expecting them to be funny. But maybe the book delivers what it intended: a decomposition of the book. In that case I'll concede that it's somewhat successful. However, I'm still stunned at the amazing reviews this book gets.

I had a hard time picturing what audience the book was written for, but I'm guessing 8-10 year olds might get a kick out of it. In fact, I remember doing things in this style when I was that age. We'd write "books", compose "news" stories, make tape recordings that were sort of "spoofs" on the adult world, and we'd find them ever so funny, while our parents for some reason didn't laugh half as hard when we showed them the fruits of our labor. And maybe this is the crux of my issue with this book: To me it feels like a book written by a child. And the joke is one you can't really get unless you were there, taking part in the process. But the main joke I guess is simply taking something supposedly serious, turning it upside down and thus "making it" funny. And this is something kids will want to do around the age of 8, with their peers, while starting to detach themselves from their parents.

My disappointment in the stories was often that I felt as if the author had taken the most base, obvious idea and ran with it. I just didn't find much terribly creative there. I absolutely hated the fonts and the typesetting, and this alone made the book quite dreadful to read for me, but at the same time I couldn't help but wonder if the purpose of the big size fonts was to cover up how little content there was. It's a quick read, after all. And while I'll admit that some of the illustrations are quite elaborate, they didn't appeal all that much to me and I noticed my son was rather put off by them.

Having already read "The Stinky Cheese Man" to my son at an earlier occasion (it utterly left him cold), I decided not to share this book with him for the time being. He doesn't need a cynical viewpoint at his age.

Finally, sorry for being so long-winded, but I really wanted to like this book, so I put a lot of thought into trying to understand why I didn't. Was I put off by the grotesqueness of the illustrations? But I love the grotesque in books like No, David! or the illustrations of Simms Taback in There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly or Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Do I have an issue with parody? Yet I liked Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events. I think my problem was mostly that the book was lacking in wit. (But then, I'm not an 8 year old anymore ...) Despite my dislike however, the book may well deserve its place in the children's literature canon. If it won't challenge your child it will at least turn his/her head around.


Briar Rose | 40 comments Mod
Fjóla wrote: "...I think my problem was mostly that the book was lacking in wit. (But then, I'm not an 8 year old anymore ...) Despite my dislike however, the book may well deserve its place in the children's literature canon. If it won't challenge your child it will at least turn his/her head around."

I think you make good points Fjóla. This book didn't do it for me either, and I struggle to understand why it belongs in the children's literature canon. But like you say, it might be a matter of our perspective. Children's books are, after all, designed to be appealing to children, and this one might do just that (I think I read in the fly-leaf that it was voted the best book in some list or other by children themselves).

For me though, I think a good children's book is one that you can read at any age and still get something out of. And something that's memorable. And this book didn't meet either of those criteria.


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 7 comments I really enjoyed this book! I loved the various parodies they made of various fairy tales with my favorites being "The Little Red Hen," "Jack and the Beanstalk," and "Chicken Little (Lichen)."


message 11: by T (new)

T (tdsw) | 2 comments I read this book with my two boys (3 and 6), my 3 year old lost interest in it very quickly. My older son was better able to sit through it but only enjoyed certain stories and "The Stinky Cheese Man" itself, was not one of them. A book that we ALL enjoyed that had a similar "twisted fairy tale" theme was "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs". I know this thread is for The Stinky Cheese Man, but it's good to have an alternative if you like the idea of this type of book, but didn't enjoy this book in particular.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Perrault's Fairy Tales (other topics)
No, David! (other topics)
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (other topics)
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Simms Taback (other topics)
Lemony Snicket (other topics)