Allison Parker's Reviews > Funny Business

Funny Business by Jon Scieszka
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Apr 21, 2011

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bookshelves: short-stories, juvenile
Read in May, 2011

This collection of short stories offers its readers ten humorous tales, ranging from autobiographical to fantastical, by some great children's authors. Standouts include the collaboration between Jon Scieszka and Kate DiCamillo (the only woman author in the collection, representing ladies fabulously), who together wrote "Your Question for Author Here," a story in alternating letters parodying "Dear Mr. Henshaw." The student in this tale lacks interest in the write-to-an-author assignment, and his reluctant correspondence with a rather wise and sly author is both funny and endearing. Beware "The Bloody Souvenir" by Jack Gantos - as you might expect by its title, this gives readers a disgusting account of a kid ripping off a wart and the subsequent medical horrors, sure to horrify adults but delight its intended audience. My favorite contribution was that of Adam Rex (who also provided illustrations for each story's title page): in "Will," we meet a boy exhausted by his dwindling class. His classmates leave the school one by one to become superheroes or have incredible adventures, all except Will. Savvy readers will recognize clever allusions to other characters from children's literature and pop culture. Rex's writing is so fresh and genuinely funny, I found myself giggling at many points in this tale. "Funny Business" is a great collection, though I wince a bit at the "Guys Read" label. I believe in Scieszka's mission to encourage boys to read, but the label will likely discourage girls from picking up a perfectly acceptable choice for a humor-seeking young lady. Perhaps if this volume helps more intermediate and middle school boys improve their attitude and interest toward reading, that is a small price to pay.
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