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Hey guys—now here is something for you to read. A bunch of pieces by a bunch of guys . . . all about being a guy. Some are memories. Some are stories. Some are just pieces of art these guys drew when they were your age.
So look around in here for something you like. You don’t have to read in any order. You don’t have to like everything you read. You don’t even have to read everything. But you do have to complete the quiz at the end of each section, and write an essay on each about—
That’s exactly what this collection is not. It is not required reading. It’s reading to find what you like. And I know you are going to find something in here, because these things are funny, action-packed, sad, goofy, gross, touching, stupid, true, and all very short.
Thanks to all of the guys who donated their thoughts about being a guy to this anthology. All the money from this work goes to support my nonprofit literacy program called Guys Read.
And it built the new Web site at www.guysread.com.
Check it out.
Find what you like.
Brooklyn, New York
The Day I Threw the Trivia Bowl
I have a confession to make: I threw the Trivia Bowl.
The year was 1988. The place, eleventh grade.
In 1988, as an academically advanced (read: geeky) sixteen-year-old, my primary objective in life was the maintenance of my low profile among classmates. I did not want to stick out in any way, especially for anything that had even the faintest whiff of dorkery.
Problem was, I happened to be the captain of a formidable four-man Trivia Bowl team that was to represent the school at the countywide Trivia Bowl competition. For a boy prone to nightmares of academic achievement–related mockery, this was not good.
The night before the Trivia Bowl, I was freaking. I imagined that if we won, they would proudly announce it over the intercom to the entire school during homeroom. This is what they did whenever someone did something notable. I imagined all the kids pointing and laughing at the trivia dork. This prospect terrified me beyond words.
And yet, another part of me desperately wanted to win the Trivia Bowl. I loved trivia and, even more, I loved winning at stuff. It was a terrible dilemma.
The day of the competition comes. We burst out of the gate strongly. What is the capital of Nepal? Kathmandu. What is the largest animal that has ever lived? The blue whale. By the end of the first round, we were in second place and, thanks to a furious late run, had momentum squarely on our side. I was excited, but all the while in the back of my mind, I was imagining that dreaded homeroom announcement.
Things go even better (or worse) in Round Two. We take the lead. As the competition heads toward the finish, it becomes clear that it’s a two-team race. Us versus our hated rivals from Massapequa. We go back and forth, trading blows like Foreman and Ali.
It all comes down to one question. If we get it right, we win; if we miss, they have the chance to answer for the win.
“Who shot Robert F. Kennedy?”
Uh-oh. I know it.
No one else on my team knows. They all look at me expectantly. I am well-known amongst them as the assassination expert. They assume I will blurt out the answer, which, of course, is Sirhan B. Sirhan. I hem and haw. What’s going on? they are clearly wondering. Rob doesn’t know? After what seems like an eternity, I give my answer:
“I’m sorry, that’s not correct.”
Massapequa pounces and gets it right. My teammates and I watch as they hold aloft the 1988 Trivia Bowl trophy in sweet victory.
The whole ride home, I wrestled with my decision to blow the Trivia Bowl. I felt terrible about what I did, but at least I would avoid homeroom humiliation. Right?
Wrong. The next morning in homeroom:
“Congratulations to eleventh-graders Robert Siegel, Mark Roth, Adam Frankel, and Dan Eckert for their valiant effort yesterday in the countywide Trivia Bowl competition, in which they placed second.”
Not only was I a dork, I was a losing dork.
The moral of the story is, if you’re ever in a Trivia Bowl, don’t throw it. Either way, they’re gonna announce it in homeroom, so you might as well win.
Grew up: Merrick, New York (Long Island)
Now lives: Manhattan
Random fact: Has never burped
Occupation: Former Editor in Chief of The Onion
Our Dumb Century: “The Onion” Presents 100 Years of Head-lines from American’s
Finest News Source with The Onion, Inc.
Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of “The Onion” with The Onion, Inc.
“The Onion” Ad Nauseam news archives with The Onion, Inc.
Excerpted from "Guys Write for Guys Read"
Copyright © 2008 Jon Scieszka.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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What People are Saying About This
Scieszka has put together a diverse and fast-paced anthology of scribblings and stories that deserves a permanent place in any collection serving middle graders. The book features brief contributions from scores of heavyweight authors and illustrators….[T]here’s something undeniably grand about this collective celebration of the intellectual life of the common boy. —School Library Journal, starred review