Every once in a while a book crosses our desks that makes us sit quietly delighted--except for a few squeaks of unmitigated joy--and this oversized, energized, stylized, highly prized book of fables is one of them. Jon Scieszka has a simple philosophy of the fable: "If you can't say something nice about someone, change the guy's name to Donkey or Squid." After all, the alleged Aesop did it. Squids Will Be Squids offers lessons such as "Everyone knows frogs can't skateboard, but it's kind of sad that they believe everything they see on TV." Sure, it's goofy, but it's also saying to kids, "Don't believe everything you see on TV." In "Duckbilled Platypus vs. Beefsnakstick," the bragging platypus and his beefy buddy teach us "Just because you have a lot of stuff, don't think you're so special." Of course, there is nothing heavy-handed here--morals such as "He who smelt it, dealt it" and "Elephants never forget, except sometimes" satirically prance amid the more heartfelt snippets of sagacity.
Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith are unparalleled in their eccentricity and unrelenting in their boyish, twisted-yet-innocent zeal. In co-creations from The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales to The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs to Math Curse, Scieszka's wacko sense of humor and Smith's quirky, always gorgeous artwork thrillingly congeal in Molly Leach's creative, exuberant design. We see many picture books that are better suited for adults than kids, but this fine specimen is truly meant for goofballs of all ages. --Karin Snelson
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