Jon Scieszka (SHEH-ska: which means "path'" in Polish) was born September 8, 1954 in Flint, Michigan is an American author of children's literature, best known for his collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith. He is also a nationally recognized reading advocate, and in early 2008 was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress. His Time Warp Trio series, which teaches kids history, has been adapted into a television show.
Scieszka is the second oldest of six sons born to Shirly Scieszka, a Registered Nurse, and Louis Scieszka, an elementary school principal. He attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana, graduating in three years, and then began to study both English and science at Albion College, as he considered studying medicine. He eventually received a B.A. in writing in 1976; he turned down an acceptance to Johns Hopkins Medical School, opting instead to enroll in Columbia University's writing program, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in 1980.
After graduating, Scieszka worked in a variety of capacities: teaching at an elementary school (mostly second grade), writing for magazines, painting apartments, and working as a carpenter and lifeguard.
Scieszka currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with his wife Jerilyn, son Jake, and daughter Casey.
According to Scieszka, he writes books because he "love[s] to make kids laugh." Most of his best-known works were written in collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith, who does the artwork for Scieszka's words. Among their collaborations are The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and Math Curse. He is also the principal author of the Time Warp Trio series, for which Smith illustrated a number of installments. The series has been made into a television show. The design of many of Scieszka and Smith's collaborative works is attributed to Molly Leach, Smith's wife, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
Scieszka has also edited the essay compilation Guys Write for Guys Read, which featured over eighty essays from noted authors who shared stories from their own childhoods. The compilation stems from his personal nonprofit literacy program for boys and men, Guys Read, which he created due to his reaction to United States government statistics regarding literacy amongst boys, as well as society's attitudes toward masculinity.
Scieszka's other books include The Book That Jack Wrote, illustrated by Daniel Adel, and The Frog Prince, Continued.
In his autobiography, Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka, Scieszka writes that his inspiration for much of his work comes from the "strange things" that happened to him while growing up with his brothers.
In terms of the writing process, Scieszka creates outlines for the books of his Time Warp Trio series for structural reasons. When writing other books, however, Scieszka says, "Anything goes. Middle first, sometimes end, sometimes title, sometimes punchline."
References in Media
In the book 15 Minutes by Steve Young, the school Casey goes to is Jon Scieszka Middle School. The school they compete against is Pilkey Middle School, named after Dav Pilkey, another author.
Scieszka has written and edited a number of books for various publishers.
The Frog Prince, Continued (illustrated by Steve Johnson) - Viking Press - 1991
The Book That Jack Wrote (illustrated by Daniel Adel) - Viking Press - 1997
Collaborations with Lane Smith
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs - Viking Press - 1989
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales - Viking Press - 1992
Seen Art?- Viking Press- 1995
Math Curse - Viking Press - 1995
Squids Will Be Squids - Viking Press - 1998
Baloney, - Viking Press - 2001
Science Verse - Viking Press - 2004
Cowboy and Octopus - Viking Press - 2007
The Time Warp Trio
For the article about the Time Warp Trio, see The Time Warp Trio
Jon Scieszka has written a number of books featuring The Time Warp Trio, a group of children who go back in time to various moments in history. The early books were illustrated by Lane Smith, the later by Adam McCauley. The dates in some cases reflect reissues, with noted books in the series including:
Knights of the Kitchen Table - (Viking) Penguin Books - 1991
Summer Reading Is Killing Me! - Penguin Books - 2000
It's All Greek to Me - Penguin Books - 2001
Sam Samurai - Penguin Books - 2002
The Not-so-Jolly Roger- The Time Warp Trio -
Me Oh Maya
The Trucktown series is a product of Scieszka's Guys Read literacy program, created primarily to appeal to a male audience.
Smash! Crash! - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008
Melvin Might? - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - 2008