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 ridiculous and humorous stories from various fairy tale stories. These stories curiously begin at the end of the document with an obnoxious and loud chicken yelling at the narrator, who calms the chicken down by showing the title page in large, bold type.
By using the structure of the book as an actual element of the story, and by discussing it as a book, the narrator adds a new level of humor and wit rarely explored in picture books, though common in farces in short stories. of fairies. Although Scieszka and Smith add a new layer of fun to this, telling us that no one ever reads the acknowledgments and 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 older readers as well as young children, so it’s not uncommon for people in their twenties to talk about how much fun they find this picture book. Somehow, Smith and Scieszka’s books seem to appeal to older audiences, even though they still elicit uncontrollable giggles from young children.
Part of the uniqueness of this book is its illustrations which are certainly not pretty but rather a modern art form, often looking like cut out collages, characters are misshapen leading kids to comment that Chicken Licken’s eyes are wrong, or in some other part of the image. This art works well for a number of reasons, firstly, it allows the reader to instantly know the unique nature of this picture book, it is a distortion of the storytelling tradition in 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 bizarre nature of the art in this book adds to the humorous nature of the stories it contains.
Once the book begins, with the first Chicken Licken story, it descends into an almost chaotic verse, in which the book’s Narrator repeatedly tries to get the attention of the overly excited characters in this first story, until finally the Table of The content 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 represent. In The Ugly Duckling, for example, the humor comes from both the ugly duckling’s ant aspect and the fact that The Ugly Duckling says it will turn into a swan, but instead grows up to become a really ugly duckling. Similar games on our expectations occur in The Other Frog Prince, in which the frog gets the princess to kiss him by telling her that he is a prince. However, instead of transforming from her, she tells him that he was just kidding and leaves her to wipe the drool off her lips.
Of course, one could ponder the social ramifications of these stories as they so often do with fairy tales. The frog in the story leaves the princess to wipe the drool from her short-lived relationship off her lips. This is the nature of most relationships; they end, not with people living together until death, but with divorce or a breakup long before anyone even thinks of getting married. In many cases, there was no intention to stay together by one party or the other, rather the relationship itself was a sham, like this fairy tale, it was simply one party lying to the other for the sole purpose of having a relationship. short duration.
Also, one may question the nature of the original ugly duckling fairy tale just like the really ugly duckling story. The story derives part of its humor from the fact that we are all aware that most people will not become swans; most people are failures in achieving their dreams. The harsh reality is that the moral of fairy tales does little to alleviate the problem, so after all, children should assume that someone would grow up to be wonderful and great. The truth is that such presumptions are not normally made or justifiable. So we must find a way to be kind despite the fact that someone probably won’t be any better or different than they are at any given time.
Certainly such readings of the stories go beyond their initial purpose in humor, however, what is funny within a society is based in part on the society’s underlying thoughts, events, and emotions. The Stinky Cheese Man relies on the understanding and thinking of societies to be funny. For this reason, although the meaning of the stories may not have been direct, they do in fact tell us something about ourselves and our emotional state, even as they provide insight into the fairy tales themselves.
This is exemplified on the final page of the book when the narrator Jack runs away from the giant leaving the chicken to eat him. Within the fairy tale story, Jack was a very greedy person, robbing the giant many times, far more than he really needed, and when the giant tries to punish him for the theft, he kills him. Deception in fairy tales is something to be respected and this trend has also reached picture books.