Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories about Growing up Scieszka. That’s right, Scieszka – Jon Scieszka, the guy who wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheese Man and the Time Warp Trio books. Jon is also the very first National Ambassador for Young People’s LIterature. It’s hard to believe he started out a knucklehead!
This is Jon’s story growing up with the other knuckleheads: Jim, Tom, Gregg, Brian and Jeff – his FIVE brothers. And their story is pretty funny. The boys fight, break furniture (and each other’s bones), blame each other, fight over the seat in the car by the window, and pretty much have a great time growing up. There are so many of them, Dad Scieszka doesn’t call them by name, he just refers to all of them as “knucklehead” or “you knuckleheads!” Author: Jon Scieszka
Meet Ally. Ally lives in the middle of picturesque, but isolated Utah. Her family lives at least an hour’s drive from any town. They spend their time tending the campground and star watching. Ally loves her life that follows the patterns of campers and constellations as each pass through. But Ally’s parents have dropped a bombshell – this is the family’s last summer at the campground. After the upcoming, once in a lifetime solar eclipse, the family is moving to the city so that Ally and her brother can have friends and go to a regular school.
Now meet Bree. Bree loves the movies, the mall, fashion and her friend Candace. She has a summer job lined up at the mall, her outfits and accessories are color coordinated and ready to go. But then Bree’s parents drop a bombshell – the family is moving….to nowhere Utah to run a star gazer’s campground! They leave in just one week so that they can arrive in time to see a once in a lifetime solar eclipse.
Ally and Bree meet at the campground, one freaking out at the thought of leaving, the other freaking out at the thought of staying. The two forge an unlikely but necessary friendship. Bree needs to learn the chores at the campground. Ally needs to learn how to survive middle school.
Add in a few more campers…Michael, David, Olivia and Dan, to round out an unlikely but affective team of friends who find out that change can be a good thing, a very good thing. But it isn’t easy. Author: Wendy Mass
Getting locked out of a hotel room wearing only underwear…hanging from a tree and having your pants fall down…could these two things actually happen to the same person in the same year? Yes, if that person is Greg Heffley! That wimp can’t catch a break. He gets deodorant, a travel dictionary and a laundry bag for Christmas. The cute girl at school does finally write in his yearbook, “I don’t really know you all that well, but you seem O.K., I guess.” Which isn’t bad, until you read what she wrote in Greg’s best friend Rowley’s yearbook “You are so adorable & funny! I hope we have the same homeroom next Year. Stay cute!” Whew. It’s tough being Greg! Author: Jeff Kinney
Clementine likes to know what the rules are, especially at school. That way she can keep herself from making mistakes. When her regular teacher, Mr. DMatz, becomes a finalist for the Adventures for Teachers Contest and leaves school for a week, Clementine has to get used to the rules of her new substitute teacher…and she doesn’t understand them one bit.
When the Principal announces that Clementine and her friends can help Mr. D’Matz win the Adventures for Teachers Contest by writing a recommendation letter for him, Clementine has a better idea, she’ll write a letter alright, a great letter, a letter that will guarantee he loses – and get rid of that awful substitute teacher forever. Author: Sara Pennypacker
Catherine tries to be patient with her brother David but sometimes it’s really hard, because sometimes, well, he’s embarrassing. Sometimes David acts in unusual ways; saying certain words over and over, only wanting to do one particular thing over and over or only playing with one particular toy. Catherine can handle David at home…most of the time, although she thinks she has to be in charge of him too much. But it’s out in public that she has the most trouble. She’s embarrassed, but sad and guilty too because, really, she loves David – and what kind of sister wouldn’t want to have her brother around? Catherine writes things down to help her figure out her feelings. She starts a list of rules for David, in hopes that she can someday teach him what they are:
If the bathroom door is closed, knock! (especially if Catherine has a friend over).
Say thank you when someone gives you a present (even if you don’t like it).
Don’t stand in front of the TV when other people are watching it.
A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.
These rules are pretty basic…but you can tell by reading them that David has broken them before. David has autism, which makes it difficult for him to follow Catherine’s list of rules. The author has an autistic son so it makes sense that she could write such a good story that captures Catherine’s feelings. I liked Catherine because she was so honest. She’s having trouble dealing with David and she says so. She loves David and she says so. Catherine doesn’t always make good choices in this book, which makes her a very believable character. Author: Cynthia Lord