The book is a collection of short stories from some amazing authors. The hope is boys who don't normally reach for a hardcover will find this book irresistible for many reasons. The first being all of the authors involved respect their readers.
Jon Scieszka defends the quintessential guy reader "...he's not stupid, he's just not engaged." And the goal of the "Funny Business" stories is to engage them without dumbing stories down or being sensational, "to go beyond kick-in-the-nuts humor."
But don't be alarmed if, like me, you adore nut humor. David Lubar got in trouble with his fellow panelists when, after all the assurances of the book taking the humor high road, he said, "I spent three weeks worrying about the fart joke at the start of my story stepping on the diarrhea joke later on." I LOVE THIS GUY.
And another reason guys might embrace this book? The stories are short. Lubar said "short stories are a hard sell, but this is what kids love. And reluctant readers are less daunted by the prospect of a twenty-page story versus a 200-pager..." Editor Jordan Brown believes short story collections are a great way to introduce kids to a lot of authors and hopefully get them interested in finding an author's longer works.
Here's what the panel had to say about two of the stories in the book:
YOU KNOW Jon Scieszka, former ambassador of kid lit. Trend-setting author. Expert barbeque-er. Jon co-wrote a story with the amazing non-male, Kate DiCamillo (of "Winn-Dixie," "Despereaux," "Tulane," "Mercy," etc. fame) a story Jon calls Dear Mr. Henshaw-esque. Jon and Kate wrote letters back and forth to each other, Jon as a young kid writing to author Kate. Kate played off of Jon's first letter and their story was born. Sounds like a ton of fun, right?
As does author/illustrator Adam Rex's story which takes place at a school where ALL the kids have discovered they have special powers. And they have all been whisked off to wizarding or dragoning schools. Except for Adam's main character who is painfully average and powerless.
It sounds like there will be more Guys Read editions covering Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Sports, Nonfiction, and Animal Husbandry. Can't wait!
Left to right, the illustrious bloke team at BEA: Jeff Kinney, Adam Rex, David Lubar. And Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, and Jordan Brown.