Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka (Paperback)
Winter 2009 Kids' List
“Knucklehead is an absolute scream, detailing the misadventures of Jon Scieszka and his five brothers growing up together. There are horrible Halloween costumes, broken bones, unbelievable nicknames, pee fights, weird Cub Scout rules, socks for birthday presents, and that's just the beginning.”
— Sarah Todd, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA
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"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 creche, 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."–Kirkus Reviews
"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 arranged 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 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."–Booklist Reviews