Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book?

I liked how stuff looked real.  I like how it was kind of Halloween.  I liked how it had fairy tales in it.  I liked how they had mustaches on their faces.  I liked at the end how Goldilocks had a wig on, and she could never get in the house because there’s a lock.  I liked how Cinderella was the only nice girl.  I liked the title.

By Colette

Junie B. Jones Toothless Wonder

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); widows: 2; orphans: 2; }P.western { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 12pt; }P.cjk { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 12pt; }P.ctl { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 12pt; }

I read Junie B. Jones Toothless Wonder. I was laughing out loud when Junie B. never puts her tooth under her pillow but when she did I was surprised. She put her tooth under her pillow because she thought that there was a tooth witch and the tooth witch was going to bite into the tooth like an apple but the next morning she got up and she got cash. Then she went into her brother’s room and the tooth she lost went to her brother. This book helped me remember when I lost my first tooth. 
By Emma Patrick

Growing Concerns Book Club

When author Rhonda Tibbs told me about Growing Concerns: An Eco-Horror Anthology edited by Alex Hurst, I was more than intrigued.  Halloween being my favorite holiday where dressed as a witch I scare all of the neighborhood children and shriek at the top of my lungs while touring haunted houses, I knew this was a must read.  If looking for fear in the form of words on a page, not an easy task for an author I might add, Growing Concerns, a short story anthology which makes one view plants, flowers, and soil in a whole new phosphorescent light should be the next book added to your reading list.

Beginning with Leahey’s “The Wisteria,” the “hook” begins with the bitter conversation of a married couple:

Charles leaned out the back door and pointed an accusatory finger, “Dammit, Gia, look at this!”

It was obviously my fault.  I had no idea what he was talking about, but still, it was clearly my fault, “What is it Charlie?”

My husband’s scowl twisted his handsome face into an ugly mask.  He hated being called Charlie.  I liked to pretend it just slipped out but really, I did it just to annoy him.  (Loc 62 of 4094)

Thus, the tone of a decaying marriage set the stage against a backdrop of full of life (literally) purple blooming wisteria.  So, I can now with all certainty type, any notion of planting wisteria near our own deck in the hopes of a shade canopy have withered. 

Furthermore, reading the tales of these devout gardeners made me second guess any thought I ever had of joining a garden club.  In Magas’ “Journal 6 of 8:  Techniques in Grafting,” gardening takes on a new level of commitment, “He bled a little where his scalp split, but blood is good.  The plants like blood  (Loc 382 of 4094). . . It’s a strange realization to come to- finding that you feel more for a dying plant than you do for a dying human being”  (Loc 487-8 of 4094).

In addition, the vivid descriptions in Cady’s “Those Were Days of Roses,” enchants all of a reader’s senses:

The front lawn yawned open like a bloated black tongue, thick tufts of black and green weeds spiking out of oozy quicksand and steaming black mud, the hiss of snakes and the gurgle of swamp gas as a slow, foul breeze blew out of the innards of the estate . . ..”  (Loc 2339 of 4094).

Growing Concerns, beyond a shadow of a doubt, would have matured to a five out of five rating from me if it were not for the missing articles sprinkled throughout the anthology as well as incorrect verb tenses as in “choose” (Loc 893 of 4094) instead of “chose.”

Nevertheless, for the purposes of book club, tomato pie comprised of     “. . . late-planted heirlooms.  Followed by sauteed bell peppers and squash, white corn, and a fresh mint tea” (Loc 3594 of 4094) would be sure to satisfy the herbivore within us all.  However, bear in mind, a restful night’s sleep after such a feast may not come to fruition.

The Origami Yoda Files

My favorite book series is by Tom Angleberger. It is called The Origami Yoda Files. The books in the series are Origami Yoda, Art2 D2, Darth Paper, Fortune Wookie and Jabba the Puppet. There is a new book coming out on March 4th called Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!

The first book I read was Origami Yoda, and I loved it. The book is very funny. It is about a paper Yoda puppet that gets thrown away and magically comes back. The best part of the book was the part where Origami Yoda did a Jedi mind trick and kept everyone from spelling ‘mulct’. The worst part was when Dwight threw away Origami Yoda because he was being teased. I recommend this book to people who like Star Wars. 

Darth Paper is about a boy who was teasing Dwight from Origami Yoda. He made a Darth Paper. The puppets have a light saber battle and Darth Paper was defeated. I liked this book too.  

Fortune Wookie is also good. Dwight got transferred to another school and a girl who lives next door made a rumor that Dwight threw Fortune Wookie into her window even though he did not. Everyone was sad because they thought Dwight had made the Wookie to help them with things they needed help with, like to stop being teased. The bad part was that Fortune Wookie got ripped in half, but the good part was he got taped back together. They did stop getting teased because the Fortune Wookie helped them after they taped him back together. 

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet is about the school kids making a rebel alliance to get rid of a singing calculator on the smart board that is really annoying. Then they got called to the office and when they got back to class the calculator was back. They brought their origami alliance back with them but they got in trouble and their parents got called. When the parents came, the calculator came on accidentally, and the parents didn’t like the calculator. They said, “We don’t want our kids seeing this calculator. It will not help them learn anything!” The parents got rid of the calculator and everything was good again. 

Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling is about how to draw the characters from the books. You can draw them and fold puppets of them. I have made Origami Yoda, Fortune Wookie, and Ewoks. It also shows you how to make 3D letters and numbers, and I have done that too. This is a fun book, but it is not as long as the others and there is no story to it. 

I am looking forward to reading Princess Labelmaker when it comes out. There is a party at the library for fans of the series, but it is for 3rd through 5th graders and I am too young. 

By Ava Bohnenstiehl

Baby Bumps Book Club

When Shirley You Jest!  Book Awards asked me to review their Shirley LOL winner, Baby Bumps:  The Almost, Barely, Not-Quite-True Story of Pregnancy, Bed Rest and One Batshit Crazy Family by Amy Sprenger, I was intrigued after reading the Acknowledgments;  I so understood and appreciated Sprenger’s tart humor as well as her point of view, 
“. . .  James Frey and A Million Little Pieces and- boom- everybody was all up in arms about ‘fabrication’ and ‘truth.’  What a drag.  Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, James”  (Loc 31 of 4504).  Definitely, a spoiled apple will certainly ruin the bunch.

The fictionalized (based on true occurrences) story of a woman and her husband facing (with as much sass as humanly possible) a high-risk pregnancy due to an incompetent cervix, Baby Bumps brought to mind my own two high-risk pregnancies which included preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, somogyi effect, and on and on and on.  Thus, the description of the perinatal unit in the hospital was spot on:

Each and every morning, Dr. Fake [the resident] knocks on the door at 6:25 a.m. and asks how the night was, how I’m feeling and if I have had any pain, bleeding or gush of fluids.  And every morning I sit straight up in bed in alarm and try to act as natural as possible without my contacts in and without brushing either my hair or my teeth.  (Loc 1633-34 of 4504)

In addition, Sprenger’s uncanny way of rationalizing and portraying less than kempt circumstances in a young marrieds home made me giggle and look around my own house in horror (with no longer the newlywed or newly moved in excuse):

. . . the actual shower curtain, which has seen better days.  I am going to pretend the black marks on the bottom are just discolorations in the vinyl, not a flesh-eating mold lying in wait for a tasty ankle to latch on to.  (Loc 256-7 of 4504)

. . . the guest room, which is currently stacked floor to ceiling with moving boxes, tools, [and] laundry baskets full of crap we never packed into actual boxes . . ..  (Loc 1270-1 of 4504)

For the purposes of book club, definitely avoid the glucose friendly dietary restrictions reserved for pregnant mothers suffering from gestational diabetes (been there and done that).  Instead, if in the Chicago area, load up on the baby-blue cupcakes from Sweet Mandy B’s offered at Annie’s hospital baby shower.

The Mix "Tape"

We finally ditched DirecTV for $8/month Netflix.  Out of the hundreds of channels available on our previous satellite provider, there never seemed to be much of anything on in the way of quality viewing.  Sure, we watched people make moonshine out in the woods, but did we honestly need to know how this process works?  Yes, I learned how to incorporate a gummy skeleton into a dessert dish in only twenty minutes, but I do not think I have to worry about repeating this in my own kitchen.  Taking all of this into account and combining it with the rising costs of satellite channels and the increasing quantity of commercials, it was a decision we have not regretted to date.

Luckily, this change occurred over Christmas break, so we were able to become fully acclimated to this new form of viewing on demand minus commercials.  Moving the treadmill in front of the television, I have now actually walked on it while watching the series Lost.  Okay, I was hooked at the beginning and then ended up watching just to see what finally happens.  What ensued was a philosophical look at death, the afterlife, and the true necessities needed for survival.  Scavenging from the suitcases of airplane passengers, one male “survivor” found a cassette tape and showed it to a fellow female “survivor” with whom he had a flirtatious relationship.  The female response was, “Is this my mix tape?” which, in turn, brought a smile to my face and a flood of memories from the past.  I then sought the hub out and asked if we had ever created a mix tape which represented our love, and we agreed we had not.

Fast forward a couple of days, and I found a cd sticking out of my cd player in the mom van.  I figured it was the girls’ dance cd, put it in, and thought nothing more of it.  Later, the hub asked if I liked my surprise, and he informed me that said cd was made for me.  Thus, the reasoning behind the love message written on the outside of the cd which I had not seen.  Now, the songs placed on the cd make sense to me.

While at the stoplight in my sweats and pink breast cancer awareness coat, you will probably see me rocking out to Nelly’s Hot in Here (so take off all your clothes) or Ice Cube’s You Can Do It (put your back into it) with the hugest grin on my face knowing my hub took the time to make this “mix tape” just for me.

So, I vow to have the thirteen-year-old neighbor show me how to burn a cd or rip mp3s (correct lingo?) so that I, too, can show my love for the hub through music for Valentine’s Day.

Season of Hope Book Club

Feigning denial no longer, I must move on to the next step, acceptance;  acceptance I must either reread Rhonda Tibbs’ latest novel, Season of Hope in order to reconcile with protagonist Danny or impatiently wait to reunite (absence does make the heart grow fonder) with him in her next installment of the Coulter family saga.  Season of Hope continues with Danny (much to my delight), an art student attending the University of Tulsa, where author Tibbs’ first novel in the series, Shadow leaves off.

True to her style of writing, Tibbs is able to transport the reader to places never before seen through her descriptive writing:

A few hours after leaving Sarah and Tulsa behind, Danny passed through the quiet center of Shadow, a little town nestled in the Kiamichi Valley in the western Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma.  At the edge of town, he turned onto the two-lane blacktop that led to his family’s ranch.  The air was chilly, but he pulled over and put the top down for the last few miles of his journey.  He cruised along, inhaling the scent of the rich earth while his eyes feasted on familiar land.  (9)

The careful selection of vocabulary such as “nestled” and “feasted” brings to fruition an English teacher’s dream of active verb choices in writing.  Aaaaaah!  Wiping the drool from my mouth, Tibbs also makes use of the literary device allusion as in “When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew”  (11).  This quote by poet, journalist, novelist, and composer Arrigo Boito was inspired by none other than Shakespeare.  Be still my heart;  I am using this quote on the hub come Valentine’s Day.

Furthermore, Tibbs’ ability to capture raw passion makes its presence throughout Season of Hope:

She looked up at him, light dancing in her eyes.  He leaned down and kissed her with lingering tenderness.  She pressed closer and his youthful body relished the contact.  Heat flashed between them and he stepped away.  (12)

No (I pleaded as I read), do not step away . . .

Ahem, for the purposes of book club, avoidance of Grandma Sarah’s experimentation in cooking might be a wise choice.  Instead, Mama Rose’s cinnamon rolls, “the most delicious cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten”  (264) and Caroline Coulter’s homemade biscuits would provide much needed comfort when discussing Danny and Season of Hope.