Deborah Stevenson identifies Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The Stinky Cheese Man (Scieszka and Smith 1993), as 'the classic postmodern picture book' (Stevenson 1994:32-4). The text is a postmodern reflection on the picture book as an artefact and the fairy tale as a genre. In conventional texts both the book as a physical form and the fairy tale are constructed about conventions which are unquestioningly accepted by the reader. Scieszka and Smith disrupt the expectations of the reader through the self-reflexive narrative structure and visual style of The Stinky Cheese Man. They make the conventions obvious, and question them in a ludic and stimulating manner. The reader is consistently active as the maker of meaning throughout The Stinky Cheese Man. The implied reader is required to draw upon a knowledge of books, narrative structure and fairy tales in order to construct meaning in the gaps between the traditional forms and Scieszka and Smith's postmodern text. The Stinky Cheese Man contains nine parodic rewritings of fairy tales, and combines other verbal narratives running through the text circulating about Jack the Narrator and Chicken Licken; there are also multiple layers of meaning communicated through the illustrations. It is a complex text. The intention of this discussion is to focus upon selected elements dealing with the book as a physical form, the narrative structure and a consideration of the revisioning of certain tales to demonstrate and discuss the postmodern nature of the work. Since there are slight variations between the hardback and paperback editions, the areas of discussion are those which are common to both.
The first endpaper of The Stinky Cheese Man immediately disrupts the conventions of the picture book. Normally the reader would expect a double-page illustration which would present a visual key