Flat Stanley



Expressive writing and funny illustrations.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Children and adults name-call and tease Stanley.

Violence & scariness

Stanley is flattened by a bulletin board but returns to his original shape.

Not applicable

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Stanley handles his newfound fame. How does he react at first? What does he learn from it?

Book details

Author:Jeff Brown
Illustrator:Steve Bjorkman
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 1, 1964
Number of pages:58
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of Flat Stanley was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written bypg13rnc17 April 21, 2011
Adult Written byfr0stedshad0w April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byhabibid9421 May 28, 2009


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide