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guys read

Guys Read #01: Funny Business

Edited by Jon Scieszka

w/ Illustrations by Adam Rex

Scholastic Inc., 2010.

10 stories, 268 pages, tradepaper.

Ten stories guaranteed to delight, amuse, and possibly make you spit your milk in your friend’s face, from the following esteemed writers:

Mac Barnett (The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity)Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl; Airman; Half-Moon Investigations)

Christopher Paul Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy; The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963; Elijah of Buxton)

Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie; Tiger Rising; The Tale of Desperaux)  & Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales)

Paul Feig (Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!; and television: Freaks & Geeks)

Jack Gantos (Joey Pigza series; The Rotten Ralph series; Hole in My Life)

Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise)

David Lubar (Nathan Abrecrombie, Accidental Zombie; In the Land of the Lawn Weenies)

Adam Rex (The True Meaning of Smekday; A Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age)

David Yoo (Stop Me if You’ve Heard This Before; Girls for Breakfast)

“Book Nut” reviewed Funny Business the other day on her blog and it reminded me that the daughter owned this one. A Book Fair find. She’d read and crammed onto her bookshelves and I’d forgotten about it.

“You are in for a raging robot, a homicidal turkey, a bloody souvenir, a biker taking over a kid’s bedroom, and more, by some of the best and funniest writers around.”–Jon Scieszka (viii, “Before We Begin…)

The collection of short stories is targeted to specifically appeal to boys. All the protagonists are boys, and the content is markedly “boyish.” Gross-out humor, bodily functions and bodily secretions, you know, every day stuff.  Of course, this is not limited to boys, there are girls like N who thought most were funny, and there are grown-up girls like me who have the sense of humor of a junior high boy sometimes (much to the amazement and mortification of my husband).

Melissa (“Book Nut”) thought Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Begins was the funniest. It is very amusing and Artemis Fowl readers will especially appreciate it. Colfer writes about his brother, the “young criminal mastermind” who could get anyone out of a scrape.  Jeff Kinney’s Unaccompanied Minors is of a similar autobiographical flavor, telling stories about he and his brother growing up, the tormentive antics. Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans will find comforting familiarity and hilarity here. (These were a little more difficult for N to catch the humor as an only child.)

N votes Paul Feig’s My Parents Give My Bedroom to a Biker, Kate DiCamillo/Jon Scieszka’s Your Questions for Author Here, and Will by Adam Rex as her top 3 faves. They are pretty brilliant. And having her read them aloud was good practice for figuring out the delivery of a funny story; knowing when to pause for us to laugh, snort, and gasp over “did he say he “shrinkage”?”

Adam Rex’s Illustration to accompany Lubar’s Kid Appeal. Intriguing, isn’t it?

I was laughing aloud at David Yoo’s A Fistful of Feathers even as it turned deliciously sinister by the end. Best of Friends by Mac Barnett and Kid Appeal by David Lubar are moving stories of friendship; the kind of train wrecks you cannot possibly look away from. The wit and imagery are marvelously perpetrated–course, this could be said of all the stories. The writing is really good.

One of my favorites is The Bloody Souvenir by Jack Gantos which should come with a warning label: not for the weak of stomach. But it is awesomely funny. It makes for a great ending to the collection, but for the squeamish this may be best shoved toward the middle, maybe before Your Questions for Author Here (which would have most teacher’s howling).

Gantos’ contribution and Rex’s have the best lingering effect. Rex’s Will is a great submission with the Percy Jackson fandom still at large (amongst other latent-hero stories). “And Aidan won’t leave because there is no special school for him–he only goes to that Norse god summer camp in Connecticut” (36). Everyone else is coming into their special powers and Will marks another year of “normalcy.” “Sucks about you not getting powers,” said Aidan. “I know.” Will sighed. “I’ll never be a hero.” (54)

The stories vary in style and humor. All are appealing and are sure to capture the reader and non-reader’s interest. This collection is highly successful in achieving its intent: To catch the attention of guy audiences and giving them a taste of the talented authors available them. “We do know that every Guys Read Library book will be packed with the kind of writing guys will enjoy, the kind of writing that gives guys a reason to want to be readers.” (ix, “Before We Begin…”)

The plans are for volumes to feature: Nonfiction, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery, Sports, and Who Knows (ix). According to Jon Scieszka’s website for Guys Read (guysread.com), Guys Read #02: Thriller is expected Fall 2011. Looking forward to this one. “Brett Helquist is painting the cover.” Here is the list of authors they provided, “Anthony Horowitz, Walter Dean Myers, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Matt de la Pena, Jarrett Krosoczka, Bruce Hale, James Patterson, Gennifer Choldenko, Patrick Carman, and one M.T. Anderson.” Curious who’d they’ll tap for Sci-Fi/Fantasy; though I’d like to see this split into two volumes, one each.

This has to be the easiest recommend for anyone looking for a book for the guy in their life (reader or no). Guys Read features other recommended reads under a variety of Interests, check it out.

almost forgot the great book trailer: