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I post what I think about books, children's and adult's, and what is going on in my life as a librarian and a storyteller.
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1. Story Cabaret 11/14/2014 8 pm

Oh, you lovelies!  Come out on a dark November night to the warmth of Touchstone Theatre's cafe for Story Cabaret, an event for adults.

The date is Friday, November 14th.
The time is 8 pm.
The place is Touchstone Theatre, 321 East 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015.
The cost is $10 - which includes a glass of wine.
The featured tellers are Chaz Kiernan - and Karen Maurer. 
 

Yep. ME!  No wait, that's Chaz.

Hey, it was a hot day!!  The things I did for my job!
 That's me, right there is an outrageous getup.  (You should see me with the paper crown.)

And you, too, can tell stories about anything you like.  The theme is "In Celebration of......"  All those dots mean, "Pick something".  Easy, right?

But there are rules.
Rule #1.  The stories must be personal.
Rule #2.  The stories must be true or very, very, very close to truth.  I mean, no one expects you to remember exactly what your physics prof said when she caught you sneaking the spectrometer out the window.
Rule #3.  No notes allowed.  Um, except I think I broke that rule last time.  Because I read a whole book.  It was a picture book, written by Neil Gaiman. Come on!  Neil Gaiman!!! I agree.  That, alone, is worth breaking a rule for.  (And it was only the last five minutes.)

I promise you 30 minutes of true or almost true stories about......... something.   It will be a great evening.  Join me - and Chaz - and that nice glass of wine.

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2. The Death of Bees



Any book that opens with teen girls burying their dead parents in the garden is going to be a page turner.  Marnie (whose fifteenth birthday is the day of the secret interment) suspects her 12-year-old sister, Nelly of suffocating their father, Gene.  Nelly suspects that Marnie is the culprit.  Neither of them are overly concerned since all they want to do is stay together.  Hence the hiding of the dead bodies.  (Mom's death was something else entirely.)  Gene and Izzy were NOT model parents.

Lenny, the aging neighbor watches the girls from his window, missing his dead partner, Joseph, and wondering where the parents have gone.

The girls struggle through school, and with friends and boys (Marnie) and social ineptitude (Nelly), until a crisis forces them to seek refuge with Lenny.  They find a safe place there.  But nothing lasts forever.

Sex, drugs, violence - this book may be about teens but it is written for adults or New Adults as 20-somethings are now called in the publishing world.  Marnie and Nelly are both very smart.  As they alternate telling the story, with some help from Lenny, they uncover what a truly neglected life they have led.  All the reader really wants is for them to have a home with Lenny - he's so lonely and he can really cook! - and get on with their lives.  But murder is not a victimless crime.  Someone always has to pay.

I can't get this book out of my head.  Some of the observations attributed to Marnie and Nelly are so apt, so well-put, that I want to memorize them.  Or post them on a sampler on my wall.

When Marnie catches her bible-thumping grandfather swigging whiskey from a bottle she reacts this way:
"I go back to my room afraid, because people like Robert T. Macdonald carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous and I never considered him dangerous before and now that I do I am scared."

"People...carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous."  We see them every single day.

Click for Lisa O'Donnell's NPR interview here.

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3. Almost missed this! Ivy and Bean

It's still October 18th!  So we can still celebrate those friends-to-the-end, Ivy and Bean.
Check out all the fun here.

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4. Craft Fair again????

Oh, dear friends (and Friends), the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting Craft Fair approaches. (Oct. 18th) I should be planning the arrangements of all the tables, setting out yard signs, contacting the crafters and making sure they all show up, sending emails to all the bake sale donors and volunteers.  But instead I want to:
- read
- play the accordion, or the piano, or the kazoo
- bake muffins for me and mine and NOT for strangers
- write another adventure of the Advent Avenger, or the Halloween Hero, or the Thanksgiving Titan; (Titan?? where did that come from?)
- doodle
- do 6 or 10 or 15 sudoku puzzles and a few crosswords
- take down the wash
- make supper

ANYTHING!!!  ANYTHING but what I should be doing.  It is an affliction - this tendency of mine to ignore my responsibilities and just fritter.    Puttering is guilt-free.  Frittering is fraught...just totally fraught.

Anyway, if you are in Bethlehem, PA on October 18th - stop by the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting and spend money.  I will be the heavyset flustered woman in the weird hat.  You will have fun.

10 am to 3 pm. 4116 Bath Pike, Bethlehem, PA 18017  And there will be homemade soup and bread, fresh pressed cider and music, sweet, sweet music.


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5. Lyrics

I have a problem.  I long for days with no to-dos in them - just puttering.  I like puttering.  BUT - but, I have so many things I want to do.

One of the things I want to do is write more song lyric-y poetry.  I even want to write more songs.
So I signed on to a FB group that challenges the members to write one song a month using a prompt suggested by members of the group.  And by write, the group doesn't expect a handwritten score that can be played by a quartet.  No, all the group wants is a YouTube, or an mp3, or an iTunes of the song.  Your phone can record the song, even.

Except my phone can't.  And after the first three or four months, I stopped trying.

Here are the prompts I missed:
one perfect day
an antique photo in a shop
tattoo
something to love about everyone
glimmer

I decided to cheat!  I decided to roll all those themes into one song.  Here are the lyrics I wrote:

 On a perfect day, one spent with you,
I chanced upon a scene
Of an old farm house in a dusty frame
So gray it was almost green.

And you smiled as if you had a thought
You had to keep from me
You bought me that dusty frame
Since that old house spoke to me.

There is something to love about everyone
You whispered that night in our bed.
That old farm looked like a promised land
to that farmer when he wed.

There is something to love about everyone
Was your mantra from then on.
That farmer’s work,  or my strange love
for a place that was long gone.

That frame is safely packed away
with the other things you left
When you knew that your time on earth was done
and I found myself bereft.

And your mantra I’ve etched into my skin
A glimmering tattoo
There is something to love about everyone
Because I once loved you.

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6. Story FUSION 2014

The tellers are coming!  The tellers are coming!

Frantically, I try to absorb all the research on stories and learning and then I must put all that stuff into context and condense it into sound bites. And then I have to provide adult learners with activities that will make them feel easier about  incorporating storytelling into their work lives.  And then I have to organize all this stuff so that it makes sense.  And THEN, I have to NOT blank out when presenting.

So here's my to-do list:
Create the certificate of participation - because it's the thing I would forget to do if I don't do it NOW.
Make an enlarged resource list - which I will make available here.
Collect definitions of the word story.
Collect quotes from studies to support the research.
Organize how I hope to present this stuff.
Practice it - so I don't blank out when someone takes me down a shady tangent.

Oh, did I tell you?  I'm leading a workshop for teachers and librarians about telling classrooms and storytelling clubs.  On Saturday.  From 9 to 12 noon.  At StoryFUSION.  JOIN ME!

Also, I am the MC on Saturday night - for Mary Wright and - TA DAH!!!  Jennings and Ponder!

This is the MOST wonderful time of the year!!!



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7. Telephone


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8. Storytelling AGAIN!!

Yup.

On Saturday, I will lead a family workshop on storytelling for kids 7 and up.  Younger kids can attend if their parents come along.  The workshop will be at Cops'n'Kids Lehigh Valley at the South Campus of Northampton Community College.  Click on the link to find a complete list of CopsnKids events.

I am reading Story Proof by Kendall Haven.  The subtitle is The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. Haven has studied thousands of pages of reports in brain and cognitive science and they unanimously agree.  Humans need stories.  Humans learn best through stories.   As Rudyard Kipling is purported to have said,

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

That is the truth.

I keep promising myself that I will make a list of the odd little facts, household tips, and attitudes that I have picked up from stories - either oral or written.

For instance, I learned that if you put your cream in the cup before pouring the coffee you don't need to stir.  And it's true.  I read that in a YA novel about a boy whose mother was a wandering diner waitress.

I learned the best way to clean up a shattered glass from a book.  The book was about a boy whose father was the headmaster at the lad's school.

Things stick in your head when your hear them, or read them in a story. 

So join me on Saturday and hear a good story or two.


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9. Pop Goes the Page - stories

Over at Princeton University, at the Cotsen Children's Library, Dr. Dana Sheridan posts several times a week about the programs she does.   Her blog is Pop Goes the Page and it is truly worth a look.

Today's post is about kamishibai, a Japanese form of storytelling with colorful picture cards.  Check out this link to read her post.

She mentions Allan Say's touching book, Kimishibai Man, about an aging storyteller whose livelihood is lost to television.  At the end of the book, he decides to take his bicycle and his little stage and look for an audience.  He finds one.  Happy ending.


Kamishibai Man 

  Live storytelling thrives today, whether it is tellers with microphones,or story hours with books.  One person using her voice to tell a story, read, recited or woven from memory is so much more evocative than people acting out a scene.  A spoken story - even with pictures as aids - leads the listeners into their own imaginations where they can depth and detail.  Television and movies, and even theater to a smaller extent, leave little to the imagination.  Well, we can still imagine what the scene smells like.  We can imagine how it feels to hold that little piglet.  But not much else.

I will introduce storytelling to a group of youngsters and their parents on Sept. 6th at Cops'n'Kids in South Bethlehem.  Stop by!  and we can talk about the importance of sharing stories in person.

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10. Fangirl

Why did I wait so long to read this?  It is awesome.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell    

Fangirl    More later.  I have to finish this book.

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11. Storytelling Workshop


9780812993882

How do you teach storytelling in one and a half hours?  It's a trick question because you can't teach storytelling in one and a half hours.

All I can hope to do tomorrow is introduce a group of kids to story structure (the very basics) and the fun of using your whole self to tell a story. 

The workshop will be at the Upper Macungie Community Center - all the heck the way over in Breinigsville, PA and it happens at 10 am.

If you are in that neck of the woods, stop by.

BTW, I am reading two books right now, How We Learn by Benedict Carey.  Whoa!  This book is an eye opener into the workings of memory and into the workings of Learning Scientists.  Non-fiction always takes me longer to digest.

Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuberger is about teaching storytelling to children.  A lot of the activities in this book are about creating stories, rather than telling stories that you have heard or read.  Still, the crafts are open-ended enough to appeal to a wide age range of children.  And the games are great for sharing tales and getting creative juices flowing.

I have downloaded a couple of e-galleys that I am excited to get into soon.  I still have some ARCs from BEA to which I should give my attention. 

Any suggestions on how I can share these ARCs?  Let me know. 

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12. Confession




classic-winnie-the-pooh 4_720x960

I do not want to read books written for teens.  I do not want to read new books.  I want to snuggle down with Winnie-the-Pooh and Uncle Wiggily.

 I want to revisit the flood in which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water and the boat made of an overturned umbrella.

I can not get interested in road trips made by fledgling adults, or the struggles of young people whose best friends have all moved away.  I want to to find Goldbug on every page.  I want to meet Anne Shirley again for the first time.

And I want to sail on the pirate ship with Obadiah, the Bold, chant "Not I!" with the dog and the mouse and the cat - or is it a rooster?

It is the waning of summer, a time of nostalgia and I want to go back, go back, go back to the first time I opened Little Men.

This, too, shall passToddlers turn to school children.  Tigers turn to butter and I will turn to new books some time.

But not right now.

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13. Chomping on the bit





Two sources have alerted me to some awesome soon-to-be-published books.  Over on Fuse#8, Betsy Bird mentioned titles from a librarian's preview from HarperCollins.  I am drooling.

And PW Children's gave stars to the books they reviewed in today's online edition.  Since I am receiving this e-newsletter after retirement, I won't link directly to the reviews.  I can tell you what the books are, though.

1.  Is this a dream?  I must pinch myself.  Jen Bryant teams up with Melissa Sweet to bring us a picture book biography of Peter Mark Roget, the creator of Roget's Thesaurus.  The book, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus  is published by Eerdman's and will come out in September.  Bryant has authored some awesome non-fiction and Sweet's illustrations win me over every time.  But the subject matter, a man obsessed with words, a life-saver to writers and puzzle-solvers alike, is so mind-expanding.  Fascinating people don't just climb mountains and rescue tiger cubs.  They solve equations and explore words. 

2. Nuts to You by Lynn Rae Perkins (Greenwillow, 978-0-06-009275-7) comes out in August and it's about SQUIRRELS.  Yes!  Yes!  Squirrels are everywhere my friends.  When a squirrel is carried away by a hawk, his friends go on an adventure to find him.  Isn't that cover so pretty?

3. Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame is back with a Russian folktale styled story that features a futuristic Baba Yaga and a reversal of roles plot.  Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire will be published by Candlewick in September

4.  Last but not least is Meg Wolitzer's "debut" YA novel, Belzhar, brought to us by Dutton and due out in September.  (Wolitzer's The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, a masterpiece about Scrabble must have been meant for a younger audience.)  A broken-hearted teen who is incapable of recovering from her failed romance is sent to a special school where she is given a journal that takes her back in her own life to before her heartbreak.

There are so many books and there is so little time.  I think I ONLY have 24 ARCs to work through, along with the one library book on my bedside bookshelf.  I will tell you about that, later.



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14. The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham


The Luck Uglies

I finished The Luck Uglies last night and I was satisfied to see that it promises a sequel.

When the (evil, disgusting, arrogant, cruel, etc.) Earl of Longchance captures a young Bog Noblin, he invites doom and terror to the village of Drowning.  Rye, her friends, Folly and Quinn, her mother, Abby and the mysterious tattooed man, known as Harmless, must save the village.  Spells, magical beasts, potions, and incredible escape acts, most occurring in the dark of night, keep the pages turning.

I admit I skimmed.  I often skim through battles because reading about swordplay and how the characters avoid decapitation or mangling makes me itchy.  (I am not an 11-year-old boy.)  I took the time to read one such scene and it was cinematically presented - the type of action/adventure sequence that the target readership will LOVE.

I love the cover and chapter illustrations.   I thought that one or two scenes were dragged out for suspense and action's sake.    Even the villains - except for the Earl, who is beyond the pale - have their not-so-awful moments.  So, yes, I think fantasy and adventure fans, boys and girls alike, will enjoy this book.

ASIDE:  Is there a running around the rooftops meme circulating through kids' fiction right now?  This is not the first, or even the second, book that I've read this year in which city rooftops are used as escape routes or roadways.  Just wondering.



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15. The Cracks in the Kingdom

Late on Monday night, I finished The Cracks in the Kingdom with a loud moan.  How could Jaclyn Moriarty do this to her readers?  What about the Queen of Cello?  How can Elliot and his father return?  Is Belle really having a mental breakdown?  Will Madeline's mother be ok?  And is Princess Ko as unfeeling as she appears?


I mean, really!!!!  This wild, whimsical fantasy trilogy (I hope it's a trilogy because I want answers SOON if not immediately) keeps me guessing.

This second entry into The Colors of Madeleine series returns to the Kingdom of Cello - where colors can create havoc and the entire Royal Family except for Princess Ko has been abducted.  Elliot Baranski is on the Royal Youth Alliance, an initiative supposedly designed to find ways for the Provinces of Cello to better work together.  The RYA is really dedicated to finding the Royal Family and returning them to Cello before war breaks out.

Since the Royal Family is in the World (That's us, folks.  We are the World.), Elliot needs Madeleine. 

Madeleine in turn needs her Worldly friends, Jack and Belle.  And the reader needs a neck brace from swiveling back and forth from Cello to the World to Cello to the World.

And it all gets scientific, and romantic and then, just like in the first book, A Corner of White, incredibly suspenseful.  WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  I can't take this.  I need to know.

Who are these Wandering Hostiles who besiege the government of Cello?  Where the heck is Madeleine's father?  Why is the WSU determined to keep traffic between Cello and the World closed?  Can Elliot ever return to Cello?  Will Samuel survive? 

This review does NOT do this book,- the writing, the research, the fitting together of the smallest puzzle pieces,- justice.  Not since the Chrestomanci books of Diana Wynne-Jones have I read fantasies as intricate as this series.  Moriarty's mood is so much lighter that Wynne-Jones, (whom I miss every passing day), that it is easy not to notice how every detail is necessary to tell this story.  WOW!  Just plain wow!  Read these books.

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16. Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater



It was Leon, really, who kept me reading.  This poor guy has to drive the returning rock star to the rock star's new gig and the rock star - Mercy Falls fans know that Cole St. Clair is the rock star - keeps asking for Leon's advice and input.  And Leon is so driver-ish-ly polite and even kind.  So for Leon I kept reading.

Because I never read the Mercy Falls books, I didn't know about the passion between Cole and Isabel Culpepper, or the tragedies that befell the Mercy Falls clan.  And I am grateful for Leon because I learned to like and respect Cole and Isabel. 

Here's the story, guys.  I will only take you so far, ok?  Cole is out of rehab.  He has been offered a chance to make a new album - as long as he does it on a reality tv show based in LA.  The band, Narkotika, is defunct.  Jeremy, the bass player, is in LA with a new band.  Mercy Falls readers know what happened to the drummer, Victor, and there's no return from that, alas.

But Cole's real goal is to find and win back Isabel.  Isabel lives in LA with her mother and aunt and cousin, Sophia.  Thanks, Sophia.  I liked YOU a lot, too.

The opening of this book let's you know that there is ACTION, DANGER and DRAMA involved in the book.  The setting of a reality show just pours lighter fluid on the blaze, so to speak.   And through it all, Cole tries to convince Isabel to trust him.  And Isabel tries to remain in control of circumstances that are beyond her reach.

In my opinion, this is not Maggie's best.  But I'm not all that fond of werewolves, either.  However, I am happy and relieved that the book was lively and full of good people behaving pretty ok, mostly, and ordinary people acting like jerks sometimes, and romance and action and love - and minor characters that I wanted to meet in person.


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17. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill


 http://www.meganfrazer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/SC_Cover.png

Humph! In The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore, I did not like Hazel Kaplansky much - at first. She is the smartest person she knows and makes no bones about it.  She is the kind of smart kid that makes other kids - and grown-ups - annoyed.  And she reminded me a lot of....ME!  (And, I was NEVER the smartest person I knew, but I didn't KNOW that.)

 It's 1953.  The Switzer Switch and Safe factory in town has been targeted for investigation into the possibility of Communist infiltration.  Luckily, Hazel's parents run the town cemetery.  But, their new grave-digger, Paul Jones, has all of Hazel's detective senses trembling.  She thinks of him as the Comrade and is this far from proving that he is a Russian spy.

Then Samuel Butler moves into Hazel's fifth-grade class.  Samuel is smart.  And quiet.  And he has secrets.  And he likes cemeteries and research.  Before too long, Hazel has Samuel helping her with her investigation into who the real spy in town is.

1953 was a time of wide-spread distrust, when neighbors eyed each other for signs of disloyalty, a time like....NOW, for instance.  One man used the new media sensation of TV to create panic and spread fear in his need for power and attention.  And 10-year-old Hazel swallows the propaganda whole, even while adults around her warn her to use her brains.

Hazel and Samuel have to put up with the same silly shenanigans that middle graders everywhere have to put up with - snide comments, being judged because of who their parents are or because of where they live.  As investigations into the factory continue, Hazel overhears adults acting just as mean and petty as their children.

Hazel and Samuel uncover secrets, some innocent, some painful and Hazel redeems herself with an act of courage and kindness just when Samuel needs her most.

Add this to the growing list of fine historical fiction from an author who gets better with each effort.

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18. The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly


I am just about finished with this book and it is rushing to its conclusion like a, pardon me if you've read the book, run-away train.  I hope Jaleigh Johnson has ever intention of writing more about Piper, Anna, Trimble, Jeyne, and green-eyed Gee.  The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

Piper is an orphan in the Meteor fields of Merrick (spelling?), the northern kingdom.  Her father recently died while working at King Aron's factories in Dragonfly territory to the south.  Piper can fix any machine that her fellow scrappers can find after a meteor shower.

In an attempt to find a missing friend, Piper finds a strange caravan and a frightened, confused girl who bears the mark of the Dragonfly.  She is protected by King Aron.

Anna, the girl, remembers very little.  When a strange man arrives to claim Anna, Piper decides to take Anna to the southern capital of Noveen on the 4-0-1, a cargo train.  There they meet the rest of the heroes of this book and there they embark on a series of increasingly hair-raising adventures.

Enough, I have about 70 pages to go and things just got even more hairy!


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19. GIVEAWAY!!!!

I have an ARC of the very soon to be released We Were Liars by e. lockhart.  The book is breathtaking.  So comment below before May 9th - I know, not a lot of time - and I will try very hard to get it to you before its release date - which is May 13th.

We Were Liars

I will include an ARC of A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd in this giveaway.  This is another fine book.  BUT these two books could not be more different.
A Snicker of Magic
Yep.  Different.  You know what to do.



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20. We Are Liars ARC Giveaway Winner!

Alisonj is the winner of We Are Liars  by e. lockhart and A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  Alison, you can email me at bookkm@gmail.com with your snail mail address and the books will be sent off tomorrow morning.

Thanks, everyone, for entering.  I have more ARCs to share so, stay tuned.

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21. Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty, - a review

Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty by Polly Horvath  is a little hard to follow. Some people LIKE all that jumping around so... 



Wait!  This is a book about BUNNIES!!!  Jumping around?  Bunnies? Of course! NOW, I get it.  You can't tell a story about bunnies without a lot of motion.  Can't be done.


So, now that Mrs. Bunny is a famous bunny author, she has decided NOT to be a detective any longer (see Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire).  She wants to be queen.  Is that so much to ask?



The Bunnys' human friend, Madeline, is very worried about her college fund.  Her parents have $6.27 between them.  But, Mildred, Madeline's mother has plans to buy 30 more acres for an Organic Farm.

Somehow, everyone ends up taking a cruise ship to Jolly Olde Englande!  Pop-Tarts are involved; also, thieving hedgehogs, snobbery, and magic.

I love Mr. Bunny - for so he is called - and Mrs. Bunny and the way they tell stories.  I also like their enthusiasms and need for adventure.

And the humans in these books are equally likeable - Madeline and her hippie-dippie parents and her brilliant eccentric Uncle and her best friend, Katherine.  And Prince Charles.  And Starlight Heavens - well, she is not actually likeable - at all - but with a name like that?  Come on.

There is a very famous author - besides Mrs. Bunny, that is - in this book, known as Oldwhatshername, and a not so famous translator.  These cameo appearances just add to the mayhem.

Just sit back and enjoy a trip across the Pond with the Bunnys and their human friends.

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22. How it works

Here is how things have been working for the last few months - or years - or lifetime.

My Brain tells my Self that I should stop playing around and get certain things done.

My Self tells my Brain that I DO have time to play seventeen more games of whatever and also scroll through FB posts and "like" most of them, etc.  Also, there are those awesome kids' crafts that I will never have a chance to use, but, aren't they GREAT??

This continues until, finally, my Brain grabs my Self around the throat and forces Self to do what needs to be done - usually in a half-baked manner.

Then I complain - loudly and often - that I don't have time to get things done, read all the books I want to read, exercise, etc.

Repeat. Ad Nauseam.

Then do a blog post about it.

And in disgust go do something that my Brain might approve of.

That's how it works.

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23. Constable & Toop

The folks at Abrams sent me a box of books for the KU Children's Lit Conference.  Among them was Gareth P. Jones' Constable & Toop.



Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

The mood is gray and shadowy - perfect for a rather gruesome book about ghosts and murder. The main living characters are teens. That's the only thing about this book that might make it YA. The murders are awful - although not overly graphic. The lampooning of bureaucracy will resonate with readers of all ages.

Here's the set up. Sam Toop is a Talker. Ghosts come to him for help with those last minute things that hold them here. If Sam is successful, the ghosts walk through the Door into what waits for them. Lapsewood is a ghost - a clerical drudge in the Office that regulates ghostly affairs. Something is amiss in London. The field operative that visits resident ghosts - ghosts held in place by the buildings they haunt - has gone missing. So, although he seems to be incompetent, Lapsewood is sent to find the missing ghost. He finds her and something much, much worse.

There is also an exorcist who rips ghosts apart, allowing that other Evil to grow. And a teen girl, Clare, who is fascinated and enamored with the world of ghosts.

These stories, Sam's, Lapsewood's, Clare's, the exorcist's and the murderer's - I forgot the murderer - unfold alongside each other. Then, they merge.

It's all pretty cool the way Jones pulls each of these strings together. The ghost world of Victorian London promises a lot of stories, should a young Talker have further adventures.

If your copy has an author's note at the end, (my copy is an ARC), take the time to read it.  

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24. Where I have been



I met Philip Gulley at Book Expo.  He is so warm and F(f)riendly. AND I got his new book.  It seems that Sam got "released" from his Friends Meeting in Harmony for standing in for the Unitarian minister for awhile.  I can't wait to read that one.

 I think I will avoid BookCon in the future.  It WAS awesome.  John Green spoke and the crowd waiting for him acted like they were waiting to see the Beatles - except most of them only have a vague notion of who the Beatles were.

Another thing about Book Con that was wonderful was the HUGE number - HUGE! - of younger readers on the floor.  What a great marketing idea!  Give your best now-and-potential customers access to their favorite authors?  Feed the future, publisher-folk.

So, maybe?  I might change my mind about BookCon.  The energy was amazing.   However, the Saturday crowd is always bigger.  The lines to meet authors were extremely long.  And I left my schedule of events on the BUS!!!  I will write my must-see events on my skin next time.

Well, I just remembered that I have MUCH to do today and time is fugit-ing.

Be well.  Read.

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25. The Gollywhopper Games


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I subscribe to Bookperk, a splendid e-newsletter that offers ebooks for prices between free and $4.99.  These are mostly books written for adults, sigh.  But every now and then, an awesome kids' book is offered.

I think that's where I purchased The Gollywhopper Games  by Jody Feldman.   If you enjoy books that revolve around puzzles, this book is for you.  I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein and enjoyed it.  The Gollywhopper Games is every bit as good, in my opinion.

One of the things going for Gollywhopper is that the games truly resemble reality games from TV.  Adults are monitoring every step of the way and they intervene when necessary - which only happens once.

Another thing that I enjoyed is that the book's backstory adds tension to the games.  Gil's father once worked for Golly Toy Company and left under accusations of embezzlement.  He was found innocent but his son's life has been very unpleasant ever since.

When Gil qualifies for the games and then passes the first two tests, the Golly Toy Company's president tries to get Gill to drop out.  He offers to pay Gil off! 

Gil's fellow contestants fall into typical kid lit stereotypes; the airhead beauty who just wants to be on TV; the rich kid whose parents spent thousands of dollars to ensure his place in the games; one of Gil's schoolmates who is an athlete and a hothead; and the quiet studious genius.  These are the final five players who must work together as a team and then against each other.  But each player gets a chance to shine.  I liked that a lot.

The puzzles and challenges are fun and well-described as well.

Up until now, I have felt that I don't visualize as well when I read an ebook as I do when I read a paper book.  After reading The Gollywhopper Games, I think that perhaps it is the book itself that causes the problem.  I had no problem visualizing the colorful toy factory, the hallways, or the games.

The Golly Toy Company finds out who embezzled that money.  Gil learns a lot about himself and so do his fellow contestants.  This is a book I might even read again.  High praise from me.

PS.  It appears that the world is demanding another set of Gollywhopper Games and the Golly Toy Company aims to please its customers.

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