Jon Scieszka has five brothers. Jon Scieszka is a funny writer. Ergo, Jon Scieszka's stories about growing up with his five brothers = funny. Oh, I laughed out loud, all right. I read bits aloud to the librarians in the workroom who wanted to know just what was so damn funny, and they laughed out loud. But we're moms. Moms of boys. We have to think boys are funny, or else go googoo and end up carted away in a van.
I first reviewed this book two years ago. I read it to myself while our house was undergoing extensive renovation. It was kind of a distracted review, touching on Peruvian hats, Luke Wilson and my great-cousin Margaret's nose.
But such a funny book. I really needed the laughs during those dark days - my kitchen was open to the outside world for about a week, making it less kitchen-y and more like, let's say, a shed.
We have revisited Knucklehead this summer, now that it is available on audio, read by Mr. Scieszka himself. I checked it out of the library specifically for the benefit of my husband and his multitude of siblings, many of whom were going to be in from out of town and spending copious hours in our minivan last week.
I was not in the van with Auntie Jane, Aunt Jeannie, Uncle Jim, Uncle Joe, Aunt Mary, Uncle Miles, and Aunt Tee (not to mention bonus Cousins Shannon, Stretch, and A Prime) (it's a big van), but I am told that the Scieszka family hijinks inspired gales of laughter and recalled tales of Pipik family hijinks as well.
1971, Cleveland, Ohio. My husband's the cute brunette with the brown eyes (and yes I know that describes everyone in this picture except the cat).
Scieszka's delivery is a bit measured, as if he is reading to young children who could use a little extra time and clarity to process the words. This works really well, and I recommend it to other audio narrators. Many people could use a little extra time and clarity, including, god knows, all those Pipiks, who have trouble hearing anything over the general hubbub. Scieszka never goes overboard, never sounds patronizing with it. Think Fred Rogers, but not quite as gentle.
No review of Knucklehead can be complete without a mention of "Crossing Swords." In my review of the print edition, I said this:
'Crossing Swords,' in which Scieszka describes how he and his brothers could turn even going to the bathroom into an opportunity for imaginative play (and hoo boy is that the most sedate description you'll ever read for that particular activity!), may well establish this book as the passed-around page-marked Diary of a Wimpy Kid for this year. I'll even go so far as to call those few pages Jon Scieszka's ticket to immortality, and that's saying something.
Certainly we'll be mentioning his name as we mop up the bathroom floor - here's to you, Mr. Ambassador!
We've now listened to Knucklehead probably three full times through (it's only 2 CDs) and I guess we're ready to return it to the library so that another family can enjoy it. It will be almost like saying goodbye to a funny relative who has been here for a visit - maybe we should make Mr. Scieszka Honorary Uncle Jon! We do have an opening, now that I think of it: ten uncles and ten aunties, not no mention about fifteen first cousins, and nary a John, Jon, Jonathan, Jhonny or Juan. But I'm afraid there's no more room on the couch.
(New banner, from left: me, Aunt Janie, Aunt Tee, Milo, Zhou, Bob, and Uncle Miles.)