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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Squids will be Squids

Squids will be squids Scieszka, Jon.  1998.  Squids will be squids:  Fresh morals, beastly fables.  Ill. by Lane Smith.  New York:  Viking.  ISBN:  067088135X.

By starting out with a "serious historical foreword" that gives a brief history of the life of Aesop along with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that the stories that follow are not about any actual acquaintances of the author, the reader is given a hint of the eighteen wacky, offbeat fables that will follow.  Each fable contains main characters not normally seen in mainstream folktales such as a horseshoe crab, a tongue, and a BeefSnakStik.  Each fable also ends with a moral, but these are not the traditional morals many have come to expect.  The conclusion is a "very serious historical afterword" that warns once again of the dire consequences of telling fables without concealing names and faces of the accused.

In this collection, Scieszka has managed to put a twist on the genre of folktales and modernize them in a unique way.  Children will identify with the various characters in the tales that tell of friendships, relationships with parents, and annoying personality traits.  Scieszka's tell-it-like-it-is voice is able to convey dialogue to which young people will be able to relate, and situations that they will recognize such as the price that must be paid for procrastination (Grasshopper Logic) and the consequences of being a negative person (Deer, Mouse, Rabbit, and Squid).  This is a book that can be used as just a fun read, but it could also be used to break the ice with children to talk about  sensitive situations.

Lane Smith's illustrations do nothing but complement Scieszka's sarcastic sense of humor.  Some pictures seem to be collages while others are more like paintings, but all use bold colors and images to convey Scieszka's words.  Only Smith could create a dinner party for a hand, a tongue, and a foot and make it seem strangely alive, and on the next page put a bossy BeefSnakStik in a tie as he proclaims that he has beef lips.  Scieszka and Smith are an interesting team that take the random and obscure and make them work brilliantly.

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University