Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables

Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables

5.0 7
by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith

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"Beneath this duo's playful eccentricity readers will discover some powerful insights into human nature."--Publishers Weekly

* Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
* Nominated, ABBY  See more details below


"Beneath this duo's playful eccentricity readers will discover some powerful insights into human nature."--Publishers Weekly

* Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
* Nominated, ABBY

Editorial Reviews

Christine Alfano
Squids Will Be Squids pretends to be a book of fables, but it is really a sardonic riff on the idea of fables, a punch in the tummy of the notion that a story might have a lesson. . . the trouble is, fables need the crowing pearl of a lesson in the same way that jokes need punch lines. -- Riverbank Review
Patricia Marx
'This book's the best. Really cool and hilarious,' a 6-year-old told [the reviewer]. 'Kids almost 7 and up will love it.'. . .an adult. ..will regard this book as more silly than seditious. . . .I came to admire the sustained spirit of impiety.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Scieszka and Smith, creators of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, turn their attention away from fairy tales to reinvent the fable, thinly disguising sage bits of advice as pithy morals.

Foxes and grapes are too pedestrian for these veteran absurdists, who tackle boastfulness in "Duckbilled Platypus vs. BeefSnakStik" and who denounce vanity in the story of a skateboarding frog. Unusual characters notwithstanding, each piece highlights an everyday, modern situation in the manner of Aesop's classics. Topics in these 18 tales hit the bull's-eye, running the gamut from the toxic clique (Shark, Wasp and Bacteria wonder why no one eats lunch at their table; "Moral: Think about it") to the dynamics of a group project (Rock, Scissors and Paper all blame one another for their bad grade; "Moral: Shoot") to handling friends and family. In "Termite, Ant, & Echidna," for instance, foolish Ant throws aside his best friend when he meets a new playground pal, realizing too late that "Echidna is another name for Spiny Anteater."

Scieszka ventures deep into child appeal territory, as in a gas-passing anecdote about a skunk, musk ox and cabbage ("Moral: He who smelt it, dealt it"). Smith ardently keeps pace with Scieszka's leaps of fancy, lending credence to a talking piece of toast, a walrus with a phone and a spiny, spiteful blowfish. In one full-bleed painting, little green Grasshopper cowers in the giant shadow of his mother as she grills him about his homework; strokes of eggplant-colored paint extend the sweeping size of her tentacle-like appendages, while splatters of softer shades suggest the sweat from her brow. In another, the titular fable, Smith utilizes a cartoon-like progression of panels to contrast the animated expressions of Deer, Mouse and Rabbit as they enthusiastically attempt to plan an outing with that of the deadpan, naysayer Squid. Meanwhile the design, with text printed in three typefaces of multiple sizes and colors, drives home each moral.

The oversize format allows for a variety of page layouts, not to mention an in-your-face attitude that will hold readers' rapt attention. Unlike Paul and Marc Rosenthal's satiric effort in Yo, Aesop! Get a Load of These Fables (Children's Forecasts, Mar. 23), this crafty volume pays tribute to the original fables' economy and moral intent. Scieszka and Smith thriftily present one tale per spread, and beneath this duo's playful eccentricity readers will discover some powerful insights into human nature. (PW best book of 1998)

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
With their most irreverent brand of humor, Scieszka and Smith, with all due respect to Aesop, have created a collection of modern day fables. All of the bad human characteristics are given to a wacky collection of animals depicted in the zany style for which Lane Smith is known. The wonderful trio of stories involving an elephant and a series of bugs has a real message: Always, always remember to call if you are going to be late coming home or for a date. This collection of fables contains contemporary lessons that relate to homework, friendship, and television.
School Library Journal
(Gr 3-6) The masters at tweaking chuckles out of familiar tales have now fractured 18 "beastly fables" and twisted "fresh morals" from them. The foreword supplies a background on fables and sets up the device that if you can't say something nice about someone, change the guy's name to an animal. The title is from "Deer, Mouse, Rabbit, & Squid." All four critters are trying to decide what to do: Deer, Mouse, and Rabbit suggest a movie, playing Frisbee, and shopping; Squid responds negatively to all, claims each one is boring and goes home. The other three waste no time and run off to do just what they wanted. "Moral: Squids will be squids." The full-color illustrations are typical of Smith's style and creativity with playfulness in the type size and page design. The warped humor and offbeat bits of wisdom often overstretch to the bizarre and stupid but children will love most of the jejune logic. The most popular fable will be "He Who..." which involves a skunk, musk ox, cabbage, and a terrible smell. You can figure it out from the moral: "He who smelt it, dealt it." Moral of this book: When two wacky minds create zany writing and quirky illustrations, success is a given.-Julie Cummins, New York Public Library.
Barbara Aria
[Scieszka and Smith's] books cleverly step outside of themselves. . . their books are all about being books. . . .Squids parodies. . .the moral fable. With a nod to Aesop, Scieszka leads readers over the edge into absurdity through an every loonier series of fables. -- Time Out
Kirkus Reviews
This latest bright, glib collection of tales irreverently updates Aesop-like fables as Beavis and Butthead might have rewritten them. Scieszka and Smith (Summer Reading Is Killing Me) forego tradition by ditching standard animal characters for the likes of a squid, a musk ox, and an animated stick of beef jerky. The introduction explains that fables were a way people could "gossip about anybody, as long as you could change their name to something like 'Lion' or 'Mouse' or 'Donkey' first." Some of the morals work (when Skunk, Musk Ox, and Cabbage argue about who smells, the moral is "He who smelt it, dealt it"); others are tags without the snap.

In illustrations that are as fresh and eyecatching as ever, the goofiness is as enticing as junk food, the colors Fruit-Loop bright, but fables usually have purpose, not punchlines; without such purpose, this is just another joke book for the '90s.

From the Publisher
"[Has] and in-your-face attitude that will hold reader's rapt attention." -Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.13(d)
AD650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"[Has] and in-your-face attitude that will hold reader's rapt attention." -Publishers Weekly

Jon Scieszka
From a barnesandnoble.com e-nnouncement

We're all used to hearing fables -- those moral-filled stories about tortoises and hares and ants and grasshoppers. But fables about skateboarding frogs? Duckbilled Platypuses? BeefSnakStiks? Outrageous, you say? Well, that may be true, but these fables have just the right amount of bizarre hilarity that fans of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith have come to expect. After standing fairy tales on their heads in THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES and blowing the lid on THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS, the enormously popular and highly acclaimed author and illustrator team are back with SQUIDS WILL BE SQUIDS, and this time, they've unlocked the ancient secret of animal tales.

Move over, Aesop, because the world of fables may never be the same!

A Fable by Jon Scieszka exclusively for barnesandnoble.com:

The secret to writing fables is to take a situation, change the names of the people to animal names, tell what happened, and then add a moral. Voila. You have a fable. I don't remember exactly where I got the idea for this fable, but it just kind of came to me....


Yak promised Emu he would write a fable for her to give to barnesandnoble.com. He promised he would have it by Monday. On Monday, Emu called Yak and asked for the fable.

"I'm just fixing up the ending," said Yak. "I'll email it to you Tuesday."

On Tuesday, Emu called Yak and asked for the fable. "Oh man," said Yak. "My modem just died. I'll get it to you on Wednesday."

On Wednesday, Emu called Yak and asked for the fable.

"What bad timing," said Yak. "My whole system just crashed. I'll get it to you on Thursday."

On Thursday, Emu called Yak and asked for the fable.

"You're not going to believe this," said Yak. "But my dog just ate my hard drive." And at that exact moment, Yak's pants burst into flames and he had to come up with a fable right then and there.

MORAL: Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Meet the Author

Multiple award-winning author Jon Scieszka grew up in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest and the nicest of six boys. Jon went to school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he was a Lieutenant; Albion College in Michigan where he studied to be a doctor; and Columbia University in New York, where he received an M.F.A. in fiction. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years in a variety of positions. He is the author of many books for children including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith), the Caldecott Honor book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith), and Math Curse (illustrated by Lane Smith).  In addition to his work as an author, Jon also runs a web-based literacy program called “Guys Read” that is designed to encourage boys, particularly reluctant readers, to get involved with books. In 2008, Jon was named the country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. During his two-year role as Ambassador, he acted as a spokesperson for children’s literature, speaking to groups of parents, teachers, and children to encourage the importance of reading. You can visit Jon online at www.jsworldwide.com.

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