Flat Stanley is a very silly, funny, imaginative children's book by Jeff Brown
It's very short: One day a bulletin board falls on Stanley, the young eponymous hero. Instead of being horribly maimed or killed, Stanley is merely flattened. His body works the same as before, just flatter. Thanks to his newfound flatness, if Stanley wants to go and visit relatives, for example, he can just be folded up and posted there in an envelope. He has many adventures, even helping to catch some art thieves by hiding in a painting.
This is a really funny book. It's very short, very simply written, but it's such a silly idea it doesn't matter. I didn't read it when I was young, I discovered it fairly recently - a friend of mine asked me if I'd heard of it, and when he told me the story it sounded so strange I had to make sure it really existed. I've been there, I've taken those drugs, described things that never actually happened, so I understand how it can be. But no, the book turned out to be real, and so I bought it.
There are some follow up books, or "sequels", if you will. I haven't read any of them, I don't want to spoil the original idea for myself (they're all written by the same bloke, so they're probably fine though). The sequels are:
"Stanley And The Magic Lamp" - a genie grants Stanley's wishes and indulges in some creative genetic experimentation (half lion, half elephant).
"Stanley In Space" - Stanley and family travel off into space.
"Stanley's Christmas Adventure" - the family go off to visit Santa Claus.
"Invisible Stanley" - Stanley brutally murders a wheelchair-bound kid while smoking crack and wearing a t-shirt with the words "Fuck Tha Police" written on it. No, not really. I don't know what this one's about, but I'd imagine it's got something to do with invisibility. 1
There was (and still is) a Flat Stanley project being run by schools all around the world. First, the kids in the school write a Flat Stanley journal (probably also involving painting with shapes cut from potatoes, as most school activities for younger kids seem to legally require this). They then send it on to another school that they have chosen from an online list of participants. That school then treats "Stanley" as their guest, adds to the journal, puts in loads of local information etc etc, and sends it back. The idea being to encourage kids to write, forge links between schools, and educate kids about other places that they might otherwise never have heard of. Nice idea really, and supported by the author of the books too. For more info, check out the website: www.flatstanleyproject.net
Go on, buy this book - it's short, funny and cheap, and if you have kids then I'm sure it's far better for them than most of the other rubbish out there. With the exception of the Mr Men books. They're just the best. Although if you need advice from me about child rearing, then you should really put them in a bag and throw them in the nearest river. And buy some kittens. Kittens are nice.
1 Speaking of invisibility, I haven't seen the movie version of Harry Potter yet, and here's why: A clip shown on television recently showed Harry putting on a big cloak, which made him invisible. "I know what that is," says his ginger mate, displaying the kind of intelligence that got him into wizard school, "It's an invisibility cloak." - No fucking shit, Sherlock - is it really? An invisibility cloak, you say? What, that cloak he's just put on, that made him invisible? He'll go far, that one...