The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Review by Melissa Schmidtke

Hello, readers.

I love fairy tales. I have a tattered copy of The Fairy Ring that I’ve hung onto since my elementary school days. I’d checked it out multiple times before my librarian decided it needed to be discarded and sent it home with me. The mystery, whimsy and magic in these stories pulled me away from what I considered a rather boring existence into faraway lands and adventures.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith was one of the first twisted fairy tales I discovered. First published in 1992, this Caldecott Honor Book has become a classic in itself and paved the way for other fairytale parodies.

The narrator, Jack – of Jack and the Beanstalk, sets a cheeky tone and presents alternative versions of some classic tales, including:

• The Princess and the Bowling Ball
• Cinderumpelstiltskin
• Little Red Running Shorts, and
• The Stinky Cheese Man

Jack stays busy throughout the book introducing various text elements and avoiding his personal nemesis, the Giant. The Little Red Hen causes multiple problems leading to much hilarity from beginning to end.

This is a gorgeous book. Lane Smith’s illustrations are rich and beautifully detailed. These re-imagined characters are recognizable, but quirky. The text varies in size, color, and is playful in its arrangement.

This is great read-aloud for elementary-aged kids, particularly 2nd – 4th graders. The humor will ring truest with readers who are already familiar with the original tales and allegories, but younger readers will be entertained even if they miss some of the references.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a reminder that reading is fun. Share this story with a kid you care about.

I wish you a bit of magic and plenty of laughter in the week ahead.

Educator and bibliophile Melissa Schmidtke is a licensed K-6 teacher currently leading an after-school program for K-5 students. She believes in reading aloud to children of all ages and in collecting interesting stories. She is loving life in Duluth, Minnesota with her husband and cat.

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