29 November 2011

A Guy on Guys Read

Another from Matt on what he and Isaac are reading . . . 

I have a love/hate relationship with school library book fairs.  On the plus side they raise money for schools, give kids who would not normally spend time in a book store time to browse, and generally have some really cool books that I would never pick up otherwise.  The bad things about book fairs include the metric ton of poorly written books based on licensed characters (Clone Wars, Disney, and Marvel), over priced toys and posters, and Nancy is usually frazzled the week before and the week of her library’s book fair. 

At Isaac’s school’s most recent one, he picked a few of the beginning reader character paperbacks heavy on the illustrations and plot summaries of movies that we have seen a dozen times.  Nancy picked up a few more substantial books, and on the way out a book caught my eye -- Guys Read…Funny Business It was a collection of 10 funny short stories written by and for guys. 

The idea intrigued me.  I knew that some of the humor would be over Isaac’s head, but he would have fun grappling with the ideas.  The introduction of the book says, “Guys Read believes that humor is seriously one of the best kinds of reading.  Humor is important.  To get why something is funny, you have to first understand the thing itself, then understand why changing it in an unexpected way is funny.  Your brain is doing some great work when it is laughing.”  How could I say no to that?  The book also offered the challenge of reading without pictures, something that I am anxious to get into.

So far, we have read about half of the stories with mixed results.  “Best of Friends” is a remembrance of a childhood friendship based on greed and a lie.  “Will” is the story of a school where all of the children discover that they have different magic powers and are attacked by a villain in a robotic exo-skeleton. “Artemis Begins” by Eoin Colfer tells a real life story from his childhood and how his brother inspired the character Artemis Fowl.  “Kid Appeal” is a slap stick story of two boys trying to win a contest celebrating the history of their town in a way that would only make sense to someone who had been a young boy at one time or another.  “Your Question For Author Here” is a series of letters between a bored young school boy and a no nonsense author that form a very unusual friendship over a classroom assignment. 

There are five more that we have not read yet, but I am looking forward to them.  Isaac understands the stories and even laughs at some of them. The “Guys Read” website has volumes of cool guy books in “guy friendly” genres like Dragons, War, Apes/ Monkeys, at least one explosion, outer space but without aliens, and people being transformed into animals. 

I realize now that I opened a whole world of cool things to read with the boy by picking up a strange looking book at the book fair.


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