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, Scieszka 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 and son Jake, 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, and 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 conjunction with illustrator Lane Smith. 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.

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 founded 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 book-related conferences to speak about engaging kids in reading through choice, an expanded definition of reading, positive role models, and embracing new technologies. He has joked that being an ambassador gets him out of parking tickets.[7]

Books[edit]

Scieszka has written and edited many books for various publishers.

Picture books[edit]

Series[edit]

The Time Warp Trio[edit]

Also 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, and later ones by Adam McCauley. They are published by Viking Press.

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

Picture Books:

  • Smash! Crash! - 2008
  • Melvin Might? - 2008
  • Truckery Rhymes - 2009

Ready-to-Roll:

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

Spaceheadz[edit]

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

Spaceheadz is a multi-platform story, told through four books, multiple websites, integrated blogs, social media sites, videos, ads, and user-created content. 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 extensive online storytelling is managed by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg. The books are illustrated by Dreamworks animator Shane Prigmore, and published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

  • Spaceheadz Book #1!, illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Francesco Sedita - 2010
  • Spaceheadz Book #2!, illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - 2010
  • Spaceheadz Book #3!, illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - 2011
  • Spaceheadz Book #4!, illustrated by Shane Prigamore with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg - 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]

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's books have received many awards and other recognitions, including:

  • 1989: The New York Times Book Review, Best Books of the Year citation, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • 1989: American Library Association, Notable Children's Book citation, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • 1989: Maryland Black-eyed Susan Picture Book Award, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • 1989: Parenting Reading Magic Award, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • 1992: The New York Times Book Review, Best Illustrated Books of the Year citation, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1992: School Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1992: Booklist, Children's Editors' Top-of-the-List citation, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1992: American Library Association, Notable Children's Book citation, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1994: Rhode Island Children's Book Award, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1995: Best Children's Book citation, Math Curse
  • 1995: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Blue Ribbon citation, Math Curse
  • 1995: Booklist, Top-of-the-List and Editors' Choice citations, Math Curse
  • 1995: Publishers Weekly, Best Children's Book, Math Curse
  • 1996: American Library Association, Best Books for Young Adults citation, Math Curse
  • 1997: Golden Archer Award, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • 1997: Maine's Student Book Award, Math Curse
  • 1997: Texas Bluebonnet Award, Math Curse
  • 1997: New Hampshire The Great Stone Face Book Award, Math Curse
  • 1999: National Education Association, Kids' Top 100 Books, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • 2001: Los Angeles Times Book Review, Best Books of the Year citation, Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2001: Reading Magic Award, Parenting magazine, Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2001: The New York Times Book Review, Notable Books, Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2001: Reading Magic Awards, Parenting magazine Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2002: Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2002: Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature, Baloney, (Henry P.)
  • 2004: Parent's Choice Award, Gold, Non-Fiction, Science Verse
  • 2005: American Library Association, Notable Children's Book Award, Science Verse
  • 2005: Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature, Science Verse
  • 2009: Bank Street Best Books of the Year, Robot Zot
  • 2009: Irma S. Black Award, Honor Book, Robot Zot
  • 2009: The New York Times Book Review, Bestseller, Robot Zot

On writing[edit]

In his autobiography, Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka, he writes that his inspiration for much of his work comes from the "strange things" that happened to him while growing up with his brothers.[9]

Scieszka creates outlines for the books of his Time Warp Trio series for structural reasons. When writing other books, however, he says, "Anything goes. Middle first, sometimes end, sometimes title, sometimes punchline."[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]