Childrens Books

Fairy Tale and Picture Book Prank – The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Stupid Fairy Tales

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka Lane Smith Perhaps one of the most unique picture books ever created, this book is made up of different wacky and humorous stories from various fairy tale stories. These stories begin oddly enough on the end paper with an obnoxious, noisy hen yelling at the narrator, who silences the hen by introducing the title page in large, bold type.

By using the structure of the book as an actual story element and discussing it like a book, the narrator adds a new level of humor and wit rarely explored in picture books, though common in the pranks of the fairy tales. Although Scieszka and Smith add a new layer of playfulness to this, telling us no one ever reads acknowledgments and so they put them upside down, so if we want to read them we can always stand on our heads. This form of communication appeals to both older readers and young children alike, so it’s not uncommon for people in their twenties to comment on how funny they find this picture book. Somehow, Smith and Scieszka’s books all seem to appeal to older audiences, though they still send little kids into unstoppable giggles.

Part of this book’s uniqueness is its illustrations which are definitely not cute but more of a modern art form, often resembling cut-out collages, the characters are distorted, prompting children to say that Chicken’s eyes Licken are wrong, or on another part of the image. This art works well for a number of reasons, first it lets the reader know instantly the unique nature of this picture book, it is a twist on the tradition of fairy tales and picture books. Second, having the art distorted helps expose children to the often distorted nature of modern art, such exposure helps them expand their own understanding of visual languages. It’s also important to realize that the weird nature of the art in this book adds to the humorous nature of the stories it contains.

Once the book begins, with the first story of Chicken Licken, it descends into an almost chaotic verse, in which the Narrator of the book repeatedly tries to get the attention of the overly excited characters in that first story, until until the Table of Contents finally falls and crushes all the characters.

Later stories leave this interaction with the third wall and elements of the books, relying on wry humor and surprises based on our understanding of the fairy tale stories they stuff. In the ugly duckling, for example, the humor comes both from the ugly duckling’s appearance and from the fact that the ugly duckling says he will become a swan, but instead grows up to be what a very ugly duckling. Similar plays on our expectations occur in The Other Frog Prince, in which the frog forces the princess to kiss him by telling him he’s a prince. However, rather than transform, he tells her he was joking and lets her wipe the mud from her lips.

One could of course ponder the social ramifications of these stories as they so often do with fairy tales. The frog in the story lets the princess wipe the mud of their short-lived relationship from her lips. This is the nature of most relationships; they end, not with people living together until death, but with a divorce or a breakup long before anyone thinks of marriage. In many cases, there was no intention of staying together by either party, rather the relationship was itself a farce, like that fairy tale, it was just one party lying to the other for the sole purpose of having a short-lived relationship.

Moreover, one can question the nature of the original ugly duckling fairy tale, just like the story of the real ugly duckling. The story gets some of its humor from the fact that we are all aware that most people will not become swans; most people fail to achieve their dreams. The harsh reality is that the morals of fairy tales do little to alleviate the problem, why after all should children assume that someone would become wonderful and great. The truth is that none of these presumptions normally exist or are justified. We then have to find a way to be nice despite the fact that someone will probably not become better, not different from what they are at a given moment.

Admittedly, such readings of stories go beyond their original humorous purpose, but what is funny in a society is based in part on the society’s underlying thoughts, events, and emotions. The Stinky Cheese Man relies on corporate understanding and thinking to be funny. For this reason, although the meaning of the stories may not have been direct, they do indeed tell us something about ourselves and our emotional state, even though they provide insight into the fairy tales themselves. .

This is illustrated in the last page of the book when the narrator Jack runs away from the giant leaving the hen to eat. In the story of the fairy tale, Jack was a very greedy person, stealing from the giant many times, far more than necessary, and when the giant tries to punish him for the theft, he kills the giant. Deception in fairy tales is therefore something to be respected and this trend has also spread to picture books.

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