A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the restrained yet humorous writing style of this book enhances the over-the-top adventures. Kids will enjoy (the somewhat dated) illustrations of Stanley in his silly situations.
What's the story?
Flat as a pancake, smashed by a bulletin board, Stanley uses his new shape to gain attention, but he soon learns the downside of being different. Jeff Brown's sophisticated humor keeps adults entertained, while kids identify with Stanley's feelings and enjoy his adventures. The illustration style, though dated, is expressive and funny.
Is it any good?
Brown's understanding of childhood emotions is as highly tuned as his humorous, understated writing style. "Mr. Dart stood back a few feet and stared at him for a moment. 'Oh well,' he said, 'it may not be art, but I know what I like.'" Bjorkman's updated illustrations are more colorful, but some may find that they lack the wit and charm of Tomi Ungerer's originals.
The lesson about the perils of going to extremes for attention is subtly conveyed, as Stanley is teased and rejected by his peers and Mom delivers a heavy-handed lecture about accepting other's differences, including racial and religious ones. Younger siblings will relate to Arthur's jealousy, too.