In the late 1960s, the popular children’s show Rocky and Bullwinkle introduced short segments called “Fractured Fairy Tales,” which transformed classic tales like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” or “Rumplestiltskin” into humorous and more modern children’s stories with an unexpected twist.
In the early 1990s, the genre became mainstream in literature and widely popular in public education thanks to the contributions of one man: Albion College Alumnus Jon Scieszka (‘76).
Scieszka was born and raised in Flint. He was one of six brothers who grew up “wrestling in the living room, fighting at the dinner table, and taping up the babysitter.” He and his brothers attended Catholic school, where Scieszka was known by his peers as a practical jokester while managing to steer clear of trouble with the school nuns.
Scieszka graduated from Culver Military Academy and enrolled at Albion College in 1972 with the intention of studying pre-medicine and becoming a doctor. He found that the liberal arts experience of Albion College inspired him to write.
When Scieszka graduated, instead of going on to medical school, he chose to study creative writing at Columbia University and earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in fiction writing.
Some of Scieszka’s most famous titles include The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. In 2008, Jon was named the Library of Congress’s first-ever National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Scieszka has sold over 11 million copies of his books worldwide since 1989 when his first book was published.
“Ideas come from all different things: my kids, kids I’ve taught, kids I’ve learned from, watching movies, playing with my cat, talking to my wife, staring out the window, and about a million other places,” said Scieszka in a quote cited on the Scholastic Webpage. “But what turns the ideas into stories and books is sitting down and writing and rewriting and throwing away writing and writing some more.”
Scieszka is a perfect example that while it is important to know where you want to go in life, how to get there and the surprising opportunities along the journey are just as important as the destination itself.
As for why he decided to pursue writing instead of medicine, Scieszka had a clear answer.
“I write books because I love to make kids laugh,” said Scieszka.