Jon Scieszka

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Jon Scieszka
Jon Scieszka.jpg
Born (1954-09-08) September 8, 1954 (age 60)
Flint, Michigan, USA
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Alma mater Albion College
Columbia University
Genre Children's books
Notable awards National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
2008–2009

Signature
Website
jsworldwide.com

Jon Scieszka (SHCHEH-shka: which phonetically resembles ścieżka, the Polish word for "path") (born September 8, 1954) is an American children's writer, best known for picture books created with the illustrator Lane Smith. He is also a nationally recognized reading advocate, and the founder of Guys Read – a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is "to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers." [1] In 2008 was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress.[2][3] His Time Warp Trio series, which teaches kids history, has been adapted into a television show.

Personal life[edit]

Scieszka was born in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest among six sons of Shirley Scieszka, and Louis Scieszka, a former elementary school principal. He attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana for high school, Albion College in Michigan where he studied English and pre-med. for his B.A.., and Columbia University for a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing. Scieszka currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with his wife Jerilyn Hansen, an interior designer. His children, daughter Casey Scieszka and son Jake Scieszka, live in the neighborhood as well.

After graduating, Scieszka worked in a variety of capacities: teaching at an elementary school (mostly second grade), writing for magazines, painting apartments.

Professional life[edit]

While pursuing his MFA at Columbia in New York, Scieszka painted apartments. He went on to teach 1st-8th grade at the Day School (currently the Trevor Day School) for ten years. In 1991 he started writing and touring full-time which he still does today.

According to Scieszka,: he writes books because he "loves to make kids laugh."[4] Most of his best-known works were written in collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith, who does the artwork for Scieszka's words. Among their collaborations are The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and Math Curse. He is also the author of the Time Warp Trio series, for which Smith illustrated eight of the sixteen books. The series has been made into a television show. The design of many Scieszka and Smith collaborations including Stinky Cheese Man is attributed to Molly Leach, Smith's wife.[4]

Scieszka is also the founder of Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is ‘to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.’ He was prompted to found the nonprofit in response to his experiences as an elementary school teacher and the United States National Assessment of Educational Progress statistics showing boys consistently scoring worse than girls on federal reading tests every year, at every grade level.[5]

In 2008 Scieszka was named the nation’s first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress. During his two years as Ambassador, it was his job to raise “national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.[6] For Scieszka, this meant traveling to schools, libraries and a variety of book related conferences to speak to people about engaging kids in reading through choice, an expanded definition of reading, positive role models, and embracing new technologies. He has also joked that being an ambassador gets him out of parking tickets.[7]

Books[edit]

Scieszka has written and edited a number of books for various publishers.

Picture books[edit]

Series[edit]

The Time Warp Trio[edit]

For the article about the Time Warp Trio, see The Time Warp Trio

The Time Warp Trio books are illustrated middle grade novels about three boys, Sam, Joe, and Fred, who travel through time and space with a magical book. The early books were illustrated by Lane Smith, then later by Adam McCauley. The books are published by Viking Press.

  • Knights of the Kitchen Table illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1991
  • The Not-so-Jolly Roger illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1991
  • The Good, The Bad, And The Goofy illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1992
  • Your Mother Was A Neanderthal illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1993
  • 2095 illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1995
  • Tut Tut illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1996
  • Summer Reading Is Killing Me illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1998
  • It's All Greek to Me illustrated by Lane Smith - Viking Press - 1999
  • See You Later, Gladiator illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2000
  • Sam Samurai illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2001
  • Hey Kid, Want to Buy A Bridge? illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2001
  • Viking It and Liking It illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2002
  • Me Oh Maya illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2003
  • Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2004
  • Oh Say, I Can't See illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2005
  • Marco? Polo! illustrated by Adam McCauley - Viking Press - 2005

Trucktown[edit]

Scieszka was inspired to create the Trucktown series because he “really wanted to write something for all of those crazy little guys who didn’t think there was something out there for them to read.” [8] The Trucktown characters and backgrounds were created by the team of: David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. The over fifty-book Trucktown program includes picture books, “Ready-to-Roll” early reader books, board books, and a variety of activity books. The books are published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Picture Books

  • Smash! Crash! - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
  • Melvin Might? - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
  • "Truckery Rhymes" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2009

Ready-to-Roll

  • "Snow Trucking!" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
  • "Pete’s Party" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
  • "Uh-Oh Max" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
  • "Zoom! Boom! Bully" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2009
  • "Melvin’s Valentine" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2009
  • "The Spooky Tire" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2009
  • "Kat’s Mystery Gift" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2009
  • "Trucksgiving" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2010
  • "Dizzy Izzy" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2010
  • "Trucks Line Up" - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2011

Spaceheadz[edit]

Spaceheadz Book #2! Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2010

Spaceheadz is a multi-platform story, told in 4 books, multiple websites, integrated blogs, social media sites, videos, ads, and user-created content. The books are published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. The story reveals how three aliens from the planet Spaceheadz disguise themselves as 5th graders in Brooklyn in order to sign up 3.14 million and 1 Earthlings to Be Spaceheadz and save Earth. The books are illustrated by Dreamworks animator Shane Prigmore. The extensive online storytelling is managed by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg.

  • "Spaceheadz Book #1!" Illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Francesco Sedita - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2010
  • "Spaceheadz Book #2!" Illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2010
  • "Spaceheadz Book #3!" Illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2011
  • "Spaceheadz Book #4!" Illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - coming 2013

Memoir/Novel[edit]

  • "Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka" - Viking Press - 2008

Contributor[edit]

  • Guys Write for Guys Read" 'Brothers' - Viking - 2005
  • Puffin Classics edition of Swiss Family Robinson" 'Introduction' - Puffin Classics - 2009
  • "Half-Minute Horrors" 'Whispers' - HarperCollins -2009
  • "Guys Read: Funny Business" 'Your Question for Author Here' with Kate DiCamillo - Walden Pond Press - 2010
  • "The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales" 'Under The Rug' Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg - Houghton Mifflin -2011

Editor[edit]

Guys Read[edit]

Guys Read Anthologies "Funny Business" and "Thriller". Cover art by Adam Rex and Brett Helquist respectively.

Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is ‘to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers’ by bringing attention to the issue, promoting the expansion of what we call ‘reading’ to include materials like comic books, and encouraging grown men to be literacy role models. Scieszka says, “It kind of came out of my experience both as growing up a guy, for starters, and then going into elementary school teaching, where I found that the guy sensibility isn't really appreciated there, mostly that the world of elementary school is probably like 85% women -- teachers and librarians.” [9] As for how exactly to motivate boys to read more, Scieszka says. “I think the best way to do it is to give them things they like to read... What we haven't done with boys is we haven't really given them a broad range of reading. In schools, what's seen as reading is so narrow: it's literary, realistic fiction.” [10]

The Guys Read website includes a large list of “books that guys read”, instructions as to how to start your own Guys Read “field office” (or book club), a blog, and links to many boy-loved authors’ websites.[11]

Guys Write for Guys Read, the first book to come out of the nonprofit, is a compilation that features over eighty essays from noted authors who shared stories from their own childhoods. In 2010 Scieszka began editing a series of Guys Read books that are grouped by genre. The first was humor "Guys Read: Funny Business", the second is horror "Guys Read: Thriller". More are in the works.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Scieszka was named the first U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress for 2008–2009. He received the annual University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for lifetime contribution to children's literature in 2013.

Scieszka has won several awards and received other recognition many times for particular books.

On writing[edit]

In his autobiography, Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka, Scieszka writes that his inspiration for much of his work comes from the "strange things" that happened to him while growing up with his brothers.[12]

Scieszka creates outlines for the books of his Time Warp Trio series for structural reasons. When writing other books, however, Scieszka says, "Anything goes. Middle first, sometimes end, sometimes title, sometimes punchline."[13]

References in Media[edit]

  • In the book 15 Minutes by Steve Young, the school Casey goes to is Jon Scieszka Middle School. The school they compete against is Pilkey Middle School, named after Dav Pilkey, another author.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Welcome to Guys Read". GuysRead.com.
  2. ^ "US Children's Literature Gets National Ambassador". VOA News.
  3. ^ "National Ambassador for Young People's Literature". Children's Book Council.
  4. ^ "Author Chat with Jon Scieszka". New York Public Library.
  5. ^ "Gender Gap" EducationNext
  6. ^ "About- National Ambassador for Young People's Literature" National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
  7. ^ "Scieszka on Spaceheadz" Kirkus Reviews
  8. ^ "Children's Author Jon Scieszka Discusses the Inspirations..." Simon & Schuster
  9. ^ "AN INTERVIEW WITH JON SCIESZKA June 2005" Bookslut.com
  10. ^ "AN INTERVIEW WITH JON SCIESZKA June 2005" Bookslut.com
  11. ^ "Home Page" Guysread.com
  12. ^ Scieszka, Jon. Knucklehead. New York: Viking, 2008. 12.
  13. ^ "Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast" interview. Posted November 6, 2007.

External links[edit]