This autobiography (of sorts) by Jon Scieszka is one of those books that will be loved by every ten-year-old boy and that will be feared and hated by many parents.  I have to admit, this time I'm with the ten-year-olds.  Scieszka delivers on the humor of his childhood in a loving, testosterone-imbued fashion that is sure to be loved and remembered by those who read it.

Scieszka is a few years older than I am, and he's male, but his stories--of growing up with his five brothers in Michigan, of going to Catholic school, and of being part of a neighborhood of kids--ring true.  I felt nostalgic as he describes how he and his brothers would roam their neighborhood, finding and making their own adventures.  I also felt sad, because so many children I know live such programmed lives and are so supervised by adults in their every waking moment that they will never get to experience the sheer joy of taking risks and being scared in the company of their friends.

Scieszka knows that some of the things he did (and lived to write about) are not really adventures he wants his readers to duplicate.  These acts are labeled clearly as "Knucklehead warning:  Do not try this at home ... or anywhere else."  But his warnings come after the story is told, and not as often as some would probably prefer.  Yet children, and especially boys, will empathize with tales of plastic soldiers in the toaster or games of  "Slaughter Ball."  These are the learning experiences that kids seek out, when they aren't trapped in formal sports programs or in supervised play. 

And that, for me, is the point.  I can think of at least a half dozen boys at my school who would love this book.  It has fabulous appeal for those reluctant readers.  The book is copiously illustrated with actual photos of the author, his siblings, and his parents.  (He even includes stories of his grandparents.)  The chapters are usually in the range of 2 to 4 pages, which makes it more accessible for chlidren who find reading difficult.  And most importantly, this book is simply laugh out loud funny.

For that reason, I am willing to face the potential flak from cranky parents.  Boys need books that hit them where they live, and Scieszka (founder of "Guys Read") knows how to do that.  Every elementary school library should have a copy of "Knucklehead."