The “Guys Read” books edited by Jon Scieszka appeal to the young male imagination. This is not to say that girls won’t find these stories interesting but Scieszka admits he has chosen stories to appeal to the young male reluctant readers out there . In both collections, the main characters face a world run by grown-ups with rules that never seem to make sense. The plots are driven by the protagonists either defying or ignoring those rules much to their own regrets.
In Guys Read Thriller, the stories are calculated to creep out, frighten or disturb the reader’s sleep. The stories range from visits from supernatural apparitions, to a room full of poisonous snakes, to being chased by robbers to a day in the life of a young Somali pirate. The book can be read all in one sitting or the reader can pick and choose their way through the stories. Because of the variety of authors and plots, there is sure to be a story to appeal to everyone. The ghost stories were fun reads, as was the exciting story of two boys trying to save their reporter father from some men trafficking in endangered species. But the story that was truly frightening to me was about the teen-aged Somali pirate; I suspect this story is very close to the truth.
Guys Read Funny Business is about humor. More specifically, humor geared towards boys from grades 4 on up. There is plenty of burping and farting jokes in the stories but there is also some quieter, more thoughtful humor. Again, because of the variety of authors contained in the book, there are plenty of choices for the reader. The stories range from a hair-brained scheme to win amusement park tickets, to taking dares from the dumbest kids on the block to trying to fake your way through a school assignment. I particularly enjoyed the letter exchange between a young student forced to correspond with an author and the author’s attempts to spur him beyond mediocrity.
I definitely recommend both books for boys and girls from Grades 5 on up. I enjoyed both collections; I think Scieszka should be praised for working so hard to reach out to so many different readers out there. Short stories are a good way to hook in children who do not like to sit still for too long, with all the stories in these two books there should something for everyone.
Guys Read Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka. Walden Pond Press, NY. 2011.
Guys Read Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka. HarperCollins, NY. 2010.