Why do kids love The Stinky Cheese Man? A teacher’s perspective
By: Jacqueline Matusow, Teacher-Librarian, Media Elementary School
I have lots in common with Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca), author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. He loves NY pizza and pasta of every shape. So do I. He was born in early September. So was I. He loves to write funny books. I love to read funny books. Also, I love Fresca soda. But mostly, as a children’s librarian, I love to make my students laugh. The Stinky Cheese Man always does the trick!
Ok. This is the perfect place to insert a Giant Thumbs-Up to the illustrator, Lane Smith. I once shared the Caldecott Honor-winner without reading the text- just the whimsically nefarious illustrations. I didn’t actually measure the level of student engagement- nothing scientific like that. But I can report that the laughs came just as often- and just as loudly. As I recall, the principal poked her head in. I blamed the kiddos. They blamed the book.
If you asked me, “Why do you love this collection of goofy, sarcastic parodies of classic stories, I would have to say, it’s the whacky characters and their stories, such as “Cinderumplestiltskin; Or the Girl Who Really Blew it.” (Yep. No fancy ball for her.) Maybe, “The Princess and the Bowling Ball.” (I like a prince who knows what he wants.) OR, maybe it is that bacon and olive cheese man (AKA, The Stinky Cheese Man- who isn’t nearly as cute or tasty as The Gingerbread Man.) Actually, I think it’s that pesky Little Red Hen. (You never know when she’s going to jump in and kvetch.)
Since I couldn’t decide, I surveyed students, Kindergarten-Grade 5, to tell me why they love The Stinky Cheese Man. Here’s a sampling:
Kindergarten: “They weren’t the real stories, but they were funny!”
Grade 1: “They were all funny. I think it was because some of the characters were dumb. Like the Cinderella who wouldn’t talk to the stranger who just wanted to help her.”
Grade 2: “The Giant was funny. He wasn’t mean.”
Grade 3: “Those stories have the funnest names. I got that joke about The Tortoise and the Hair!”
Grade 4: “No one lives Happily-Ever-After! Or if they do, they cheated to get there. Now THAT was funny.”
Grade 5: “The end papers! The title page! The dedication! They’re hilarious!”
I still think it’s the hen.