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<<August 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: humor, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,459

So, when Sir Terry Pratchett died in March, and we descended into the fifty year mourning period, there was the tiniest, infinitesimal twinkle of light in a dark place. All was not lost. There were other authors. One of them was even well versed in... Read the rest of this post

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27. #701 – The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey

rodkey_tappertwins_pob The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other)

written by Claudia Tapper with Geoff Rodkey
Little, Brown and Company     4/07/2015
236 pages     Age 8—12

“This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

“Told as a colorful “oral history” by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.” [publisher]

Claudia and Reese, age 12, twins, are at war, with each other. Who started the war depends on whom you ask, Claudia or Reese. They cannot agree on anything. Claudia decides, after the war is over, to document what happened. She writes using all at her disposal, including photos, interviews, online screenshots, and her mostly-absent parents’ phone text messages. I love her description of her and Reese,

“We are, unfortunately, twins. I am twelve years old. Reese is six.”

Reese interjects whenever he can. Like any war, it starts when one side (Reese), accuses the other side (Claudia), of doing something wrong (farting in the sixth-grade cafeteria), which harms others (a few sixth-grade princess sensibilities, many noses, and Jens—Claudia’s secret crush). Embarrassed and angry at such a terrible accusation—she claims innocence—Claudia is out for revenge. The War has begun. 


Claudia tries several ways of embarrassing her brother, but Reese does not embarrass easily. Claudia begins by placing a large, dead, stinky fish in Reese’s backpack, but even after several days, and others complaining of the awful smell, Reese doesn’t notice. When he learns of the fish, he fires back. Then Claudia returns his fire, and back-and-forth, until someone is tragically hurt. The fighting is both online and off for some digital-age humor. Claudia also allows others to comment in her “Officially True History of the War between the Trapper Twins (Claudia and Reese).” These interjections into Claudia’s history of war help the story gel into a humorous middle school tale. Readers meet Claudia’s secret Norwegian crush (Jens), the twins’ Upper East Side private school friends, the snobby Princesses, and the twin’s parents.


Rodkey, who wrote the excellent Chronicles of Egg series (reviewed here: bk1, bk2, bk3), knows his readers well and understands how siblings fight. I loved the first book of this new series, which delves into cyberbullying as part of the twins’ fighting. Even though Claudia writes the history, she comes off as the antagonist, rather than the victim she sees herself to be, making it easy to favor Reese. Still, the sibling fighting feels natural, not forced. That the twins are more alike than they believe and never really lose their sibling-love is also true to form. If you have siblings, you just might recognize yourself in either Claudia or Reese.

The Trapper Twins will have readers laughing, happily rolling their eyes, and smiling throughout its witty story. Those who like the Dork series, or the Aldo Zelnick Alphabet Novels (example here), will love The Trapper Twins even more. The Trapper Twins series continues this September with book 2: The Trapper Twins Tear Up New York. The prologue and first chapter are at the back of this book to give you a taste of the next. I cannot wait to continue this series. I love Rodkey’s writing and his wit.

THE TRAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (WITH EACH OTHER). Text copyright © 2015 by Geoff Rodkey. Illustrations and photographs (except where noted) copyright © 2015 by Geoff Rodkey. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY.

Purchase The Trapper Twins Go to War at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHachette Book Group.

The Trapper Twins made the New York Times Bestseller List at #14!
Learn more about The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other) HERE.
Read an Excerpt HERE.

Meet the author, Geoff Rodkey, at his website:  http://geoffrodkey.com/
Meet the illustrator, The Trapper Twins book website:  http://www.tappertwins.com/
Find more middle grade books at the Little, Brown and Company website:  http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/kids/

Little, Brown and Company is part of the Hachette Book Group

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 413

trapper twins go to war 2015 bk 1 little brown company


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Brown and Company, Chronicle of Egg, family relationships, Geoff Rodkey, Hachette Book Grou, humor, Little, New York City, private schools, sibling fighting, The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other), The Trapper Twins Tear Up New York, twins

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28. Vendela Vida: The Powells.com Interview

Vendela Vida is a force to be reckoned with. She's written four novels and one book of nonfiction; she's a founding editor of the Believer and a cofounder of 826 Valencia, plus she's done some screenwriting. Her newest novel, The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty, is her strongest work yet. In this moving, darkly funny, beautifully [...]

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29. Off the Page, by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer | Book Review

Fantasy meets reality in Off the Page, a romantic comedy written for the young adult audience by New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and coauthor, Samantha van Leer.

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30. Feline Friday: "The Difference Between Dog's And Cats"

Happy Feline Friday! Feline Friday is fun meme my friend Sandee at Comedy Plus posts every Friday. The meme was created by Sandee's buddy Steve, at Burnt Food Dude because he wanted his friends and readers to know he likes cats. I'm not sure why everyone thought Steve disliked cats, but it's been my experience that you have to own a cat to understand them. I've always been a dog lover, and never expected to own a cat, not because I disliked them, I just preferred dogs, and had never raised a cat. If you have never owned a cat this video will give you an idea about how cats and dogs love and learn to trust in their own way, plus it's fun to watch.

Thank you for visiting, and feel free to leave a comment, or check your "Reaction" in one of the boxes below this post.  To participate in this meme, just read Sandee's post at Comedy Plus  for more information and fun.

Oh, and if you have time, let me know "What Song Is In Your Head Today," the song in my head is posted on the sidebar.

Have a terrific day! Follow your bliss- :)

Special thanks to YouTube  and Arnabkacakstudio for the "Cat Versus Dog" video.

Ann Clemmons

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31. Whimsical Illustrated Prints and Products by Marc Johns

March Johns is both clever and prolific, and his well loved drawings are available in a wide variety of products in his online shop here.

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Even though I have a plastic watering container, for whatever reason, punching holes in the lid of a large, empty juice container seemed like a good idea. This got me thinking - one of those "what if" moments: what if everyone reading this decided to do the same and pursue our creation on the "Shark Tank" TV program for financial backing! Would it fly?





Hello moneyed sharks! My name is blah-blah and I’ve come up with an inventive and cheap alternative to the watering can. When it comes to buying gardening tools, most gardeners head to their local gardening outlet to buy their equipment. Chances are that you or your maid or whoever takes care of buying grocery supplies buy the larger sized juice containers being more economical (sharks all shake their heads in agreement and take more notes). Once the container is empty, it’s tossed in the recycling pile. But wait a minute! Don’t do that! It can be recycled again.


Who are all those people you brought with you?


They’re the CYBER FRIENDS OF FACEBOOK group who are my strongest supporters. They’re also big fans of Shark Tank


Yuck! Juice spilled on my very expensive tie. If you can’t wash out your invention before bringing it here… I’m…


Wait! Let me elucidate this great concept that’s akin to reinventing the wheel!


What is this? Says here in my notes that this is about juice containers. Now you’re talking about a new wheel?


Give her a chance, Mark. So why exactly have you come to us for big bucks? Are you asking us to fund a juice container with wheels? I don’t get it…


If I may explain?


So? We’re waiting

(visibly nervous)

Okay… let me think here…


Honestly? All I see there is a used juice container. Maybe this isn’t for me…


Okay. I got it together now.


Time is marching on, lady. Get on with your pitch!


As I was saying…I was about to throw an orange juice container in the recycling pile and suddenly – you know – one of those eureka moments – I get the urge to punch holes in the lid, which I did…


…this is painful. So big deal! Anybody can do that! Next!


…filled it up with water and then used it to water my flower boxes. No splashing and the perfect system for a gentle watering of plants


So let’s see this container of yours


I’ve only brought one sample. If you can pass it along…


We have to share one lousy juice container and it’s sticky with juice residue


You should’a brought enough for all of us and Kevin is right. The least you could have done is wash the juice container


All I see is five holes in a lid of a juice container. Anybody… No everybody who buys juice can do that. I’m out


Maybe this has potential and maybe it doesn’t. Tell you what I’m gonna do because they don’t call me Mr. Wonderful for nothing. I’ll give you $500 for a 75% equity. That’s more than fair


I don’t know…what do you think, people?

(she turns and asks the large group of people with her holding juice containers. They shake their heads indicating approval)


Better hurry up and decide whether to take my offer. Your only offer


Um…I don’t know what to do…

(large group of people chant, “take it, take it…”

(cont’d. FEMALE INVENTOR) As much as I thank you for your support, I have to decline your offer


You made a big mistake, lady. Next!


You are nothing to me! A cockroach looking for leftovers in the juice of life…or something. Leave and take your container with you


Kevin – must you always philosophize when someone tells you and your offer to take a hike? You could be more charitable


And lose my reputation as Mr. Wonderful?


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(to herself)
Would you believe how slow this cashier is? I probably could check out myself faster
They should open more cashes
They need more cashiers. Can’t open more cashes without cashiers. Only three on a holiday weekend doesn’t do it
So true. I mean, you would think that they would have thought of that. I hate waiting
Who likes it
 (female customer searches the line ups)

I just moved over here from the other line. This one looks like it was moving faster but now the other one is better. Always happens. Wherever I move, the other lines are faster
From what I can see, there are hardly any people in the first cash
 (they both look over to check it out)
That’s only for eight items or less. I’ve got a lot more than that
Maybe they would take you being that they’re so busy everywhere
Don’t like to take advantage, not to mention that the customers with just a few items get really upset when you try to push in with a full shopping cart. Can't say I blame them. Tried that a while back and everyone turned on me. “Are you blind?” they all yelled, pointing to the 8 items or less sign accompanied by insults. Wasn’t worth it – very embarrassing. Anyway, I’d lose my place here in line. Hey…you wouldn’t be trying to move up faster in the line here…
Just trying to be helpful
Why don’t you try your luck at the first cash? Maybe you'll be luckier
I’ll wait my turn. You were complaining
Actually, I was talking to myself and you overheard me
Sorry to butt in your private conversation with yourself
Merely pointing out to myself that they need more cashiers
And I agreed. No ulterior motive intended
Sorry - I tend to get impatient in line ups. Here we want to give them our hard-earned cash and we have to wait to hand it over. Not that I would ever want to be a cashier...
  (Throws her head back and looks at ceiling)
Would you believe? Now they’re counting cash! This means another five minute delay at least
Nothing we can do about it

Why, why does this always happen to me? Why couldn’t they have waited until they finished checking out my food items first?
A conspiracy for sure. Relax – getting all worked up won’t make things work faster
 (answers his cell phone) 
On top of it all, they’ve put new cashiers on a day like today. I mean, really. Okay, they have to learn but today? Good - finished their cash count. Only one person in front of us, now. Should be out of here in five…maybe ten minutes at the most, for sure. I’ll just get ready to place my items here on the counter…they have some good specials today… I don’t believe it!   
Something wrong?

Would you believe? There’s no price on some of her items and now they have to do a price check! That’s gonna put us back an extra ten minutes for sure. Is there no end to keep us customers waiting forever? (addresses customer in front of her) ‘Excuse me, but why didn’t you check your items before throwing them into your shopping cart? We've been waiting here for over fifteen minutes, y’know! Some of us have things to do, places to go.’ 
                        (male customer moves over to new cash that opens up) 
(cont’d.) Hey! I was in front of you
You were and now I’m in front of you, first in line. You snooze – you lose. Patience is a virtue

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34. #695 – Waggers by Stacy Nyikos & Tamara Anegόn



Written by Stacy Nyikos
Illustrated by Tamara Anegόn
Publisher: Sky Pony Press      12/02/2014
32 pages                  Age 4—8


“Waggers is so happy to be adopted by his new family and all he wants is to be good—he really does! But it isn’t Waggers fault that his tail goes crazy when he gets exited. How much harm can a tail do, anyway? Well, his new family is about to find out. In the kitchen, Moni’s cookies smell so good that Waggers’s tail makes the dough hit the ceiling. And when Waggers helps Michael defeat a monster in the living room, there may be a sofa casualty. After his tail accidentally scratches the paint off the car in the garage, Mom and Dad aren’t so sure their home is the right fit for such an excitable pup. Could this be the last straw, or can Waggers and his family find a way to stay together?” [book jacket]

If you like dogs, or stories about dogs, you’ll like Waggers. Waggers is available for adoption—free—from a litter of five puppies. It always makes me a little suspicious when purebreds are given away free. Waggers is a Razortail Whippet. This may sound like a legitimate breed, yet there is no such breed, but the name fits Waggers perfectly. It would be so much fun if there were. Mom and Dad wonder how much trouble a little pup like Waggers can cause. Their son tries to pick up Waggers and the pup gets so excited his tail twirls the other four puppies into the air.

adoptUnlike his littermates, Waggers has an exceptional tail. An exceptionally long tail. How long is an exceptional tail? Waggers’ four littermates have tails approximately six-times shorter than their bodies. Waggers’ tail is also approximately six-times . . . longer. So when Waggers wags his tail it acts like a whip, mowing down everything in its extensive path. If Waggers were a superhero, his special powers would be inside his tail. It could upturn furniture, fling cookie dough into the air, and take paint right off a car. Oh, wait, Waggers DID do all those things.

Waggers, is a cute dog with a big head, long body, and constantly protruding tongue. He loves to show affection, which makes Waggers happy, and when he is happy Waggers gets excited, and when he gets excited Waggers’ tail starts twirling, and THAT is what gets Waggers into so much trouble. Picture a cat-hating dog determined to get a hissing, clawing, and course-changing feline out of the house. Waggers doesn’t need a cat to cause such a mess, just his tail.

monsster aleretwhoops monsterThe illustrations are by first-time children’s book illustrator and graduate student Tamar Anegόn. I find her art to be a feast for the eyes. She brings Waggers to life with the use of bright colors, expressive eyes, extensively patterned clothing, and lots and lots of details.

Mom and dad have had enough of Waggers’s tail-caused wreckage and decide he needs a new home. On Waggers’s last night the kids camp outside with their soon-to-be-gone dog. Waggers is overcome with an insatiable, interminable, and inaccessible itch. His tail begins to twirl and . . . there goes Mom’s bushes and Dad’s lawn. Waggers tries to be good. He really does try. Still, despite all his destruction, Waggers’s tail, in the end, might just be his salvation.

Waggers is a fun, humorous book young children will love at home or during a story hour at school or the library. Put a bunch of youngsters in one room, read Waggers, and then plug your ears. The laughter will be deafening.


WAGGERS.Text copyright © 2014 by Stacy Nyikos. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Tamara Anegόn. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sky Pony Press , New York, NY.

Purchase Waggers at AmazonBook DepositorySky Pony Press.

Learn more about Waggers HERE.
Meet the author, Stacy Nyikos, at her website:  http://www.stacyanyikos.com/
Meet the illustrator, Tamara Anegόn, at her website:  http://lacajitadetamara.blogspot.com/
Find more picture books at the Sky Pony Press website:  http://www.skyponypress.com/book/

Sky Pony Press is an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Desi -  the Muse

Desi – the Muse

Desi as Waggers

Desi as Waggers



A Pretty Good Likeness?



Review Section: word count = 378

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: 978-1-62914-629-4, adoption, dog rescues, dogs, family, humor, relationships, Sky Pony Press, Stacy Nyikos, Tamara Anegόn, Waggers

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35. Humor in Picture Books

Use more than one type of humor in your picture book to maximize the funny,


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36. # 694 – Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco by Julie Anne Grasso

Ebook cover Lemon Festival Fiasco final 14 March 2015 Hi Res.
Frankie Dupont And The Lemon Festival Fiasco

Series:  The Frankie Dupont Mysteries
Written by Julie Anne Grasso
Illustrated by Alexander Avellino
Published by Julie Anne Grasso           3/302015
158 pages                 Age 8—12
“Hot off cracking his first official case Frankie Dupont is on the scene when his new teacher takes ill. The pint-sized detective suspects a classic case of sour grapes, but the evidence leads him to the one placed he wouldn’t mind avoiding for the rest of his natural life. Enderby Manor has a few more secrets up her sleeve, and as Frankie begins to unravel them, he discovers a plot stinkier than a sardine sandwich. In Book 2 of the Frankie Dupont Mysteries, Frankie will make some new friends, upset some old ones, and of course, there will be lemon meringue pie.” [back cover]

Review (491)
It is the start of a new school year for Frankie and his friend Kat. Middle school is a now a combination of two grades in one classroom. Worse, the Appleby triplets—Angus, Archie, and Amy—are in his class and they annoy Frankie like an itch you can’t reach. Day one is short for the head teacher. His assistant, Miss Chestnut, made him a lemon meringue pie and, after one bite, he abruptly leaves for medical help. Frankie swiftly learns one of the pie ingredients is an organic weed killer. This one clue will take Frankie from confronting Miss Chestnut—bad idea—to accusing Merideth De Carlo, the daughter of Evelyn—of Evelyn’s Everlasting Cupcakes—and finally to Enderby Manor and Madame Mercure, a strange woman bent on taking over the hotel.

sick teacher

I enjoy the Frankie Dupont series because of the strange, yet plausible cases and the interesting clues. I love the fully fleshed crazy characters and their well-written stories with unexpected twists. The Lemon Festival Fiasco did not disappoint, though Frankie could be annoying. Unlike the first story, The Mystery of Enderby Manor, where Frankie was eager to show he could solve the case better and faster than Inspector Cluesome, one year later Frankie is arrogant, pushy, and most often wrong. It seems being the only ten-and-three-quarters-year-old to pass the private investigator’s test has gone to his head.

I do like the new character, nine-year-old Amy Appleby, one of the “annoying triplets.” She stays close to Frankie, which irritates the clues right out of him. Frankie does not like that she is smart, possibly smarter than him. It is clear early on that Amy is not trying to outsmart Frankie; she just wants to be close, like any nine-year-old girl with a crush on an older boy. Frankie never picks up on this. Hopefully, that crush will play out in the next edition.

you did it wrong again

The illustrations were done by a new illustrator and are quite good. Personally, I think Frankie looks too old for a 10 ¾ year-old boy and not as cute this time around. I imagine it is difficult to match the work of another illustrator. The Lemon Festival Fiasco can stand on its own, still I recommend reading book 1 first. There is information about the Enderby Manor characters that will help readers understand why Frankie dislikes the manor. Those characters are still a group of, mostly, likable oddballs.

The Mystery of Enderby Manor is an extremely well written mystery with strange, unexpected twists, and thus a difficult case to outshine. The Lemon Festival Fiasco, while a good mystery—that will entertain readers—readers will decipher this lemony mystery much sooner than Frankie. Reluctant readers will like the fast read and may stick with the story because they can solve this case faster than Frankie. Ms. Grasso is a gifted writer who improves with each new story. Her Caramel Cardamom series is a success, as will The Frankie Dupont Mysteries.

ay nd frankie laying in the grass with kat looking on
NEXT UP:  Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage
FRANKIE DUPONT AND THE LEMON FESTIVAL FIASCO. Text copyright © 2015 by Julie Anne Grasso. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Alexander Avellino. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso.

Purchase Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco at AmazonBook DepositoryJulie Anne Grasso Books.

Learn more about Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco HERE.
Educational Activity Booklet HERE
Meet the author, Julie Anne Grasso, at her website: http://www.julieannegrassobooks.com
Meet the illustrator, Alexander Avellino, at his website: http://www.alexanderavellino.com

Also by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Return To Cardamom

Return To Cardamom









Review Section: word count = 491

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

frnkie dupont 2 lemon festival fiasco

Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Alexander Avellino, Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco, humor, Julie Anne Grasso, lemons, middle school kids, mysteries, relationships, sleuths, The Frankie Dupont Mysteries

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37. Kids Comics Q&A Blog Tour: Interview with Gene Luen Yang

Children's Book Week was just last week, and thanks to First Second we're still celebrating--throughout April and May, MacTeenBooks has organized a massive multi-blog tour featuring Five Questions with a wide range of amazing cartoonists for kids... Read the rest of this post

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38. LIMERICK REVIEW: SISTERS by Raina Telgemeier

click to embiggenA surfeit of conflicts sistericalMakes this graphic novel hysterical - And a journey by carMakes it all worse by farA truce would be some sort of miracle!Other Noteworthy Info: This incredibly fun graphic novel, published last year,... Read the rest of this post

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39. Screaming at the Ump, by Audrey Vernick | Book Review

Screaming at the Ump will appeal to both boys and girls who are interested in sports (especially baseball), and journalism, coping with the transition to middle school, or dealing with family conflicts.

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40. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Eight: Eco-Style And Conflict

I was thinking of a few glossy magazines when I was writing the eco-style thread for Saving the Planet & Stuff. Maybe a couple of stores in Vermont. In the years since the hardcover edition was published, the Internet has exploded with eco-stylish websites and blogs.

So the farcical aspect of the eco-style business is a bit undermined because eco-style is so mainstream now. But there is still the conflict between the old-time, hardcore environmentalists like Walt and Nora and the eco-chic followers of style like Todd Mylnarski. Have I mentioned that conflict can be funny?

     "The informing-and-changing-opinion mission is so 1960s. It's so old. Nowadays readers are more interested in lifestyles, how they're going to live their lives," Todd said.
    "But that's exactly what The Earth's Wife does," Nora objected. "It's all about how to live an environmentally sound life."
    "He means people want to read about biodegradable fashion and decorating instead of those god-awful stories about farmers contaminating groundwater because they've been using too much fertilizer," Maureen explained enthusiastically.
    "Eco-style. It's the next generation of the environmental movement," Todd announced. "The editorial staff has been talking, and we think we should be doing articles on things like how to furnish your living room environmentally and how to buy environmental back-to-school clothes and—"
    "Environmental music!" Michael exclaimed.
    "That stuff that's supposed to sound like the wind in the rain forest or something?" Walt sneered.
    "Actually, I was thinking the Dave Matthews Band," Michael said. "Those guys are supposed to be into saving the planet."
    "And what about that guy from U2—Bono?" Todd suggested.
    Michael shook his head. "He's only interested in saving poor countries. You know, debt relief?"
    "Oh, that's right," Todd said. "Too bad. He would have been worth a cover story. He looks very good on magazine covers."
    "Stop everything for a moment. Did anyone read last month's issue of The Earth's Wife?" Nora asked.
    "Of course."
    "I did."
    "Me, too."
    Michael silently shook his head no.
    "You realize it was about just what you're talking about—not Dave Matthews and Bono, but buying things? And how this need for things and owning things is destroying our world?" Nora said.
   "Well, that's one man's opinion," Todd told her.

I don't know if the eco-style people are big on humor. Todd certainly isn't.

Within the context of the Saving the Planet & Stuff world, the battle between the anti-material save- our-groundwater crowd and the shoppers looking for the latest organic cotton and hemp clothing is a generational conflict.

0 Comments on The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Eight: Eco-Style And Conflict as of 1/1/1900
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41. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Seven: What To Do, What To Do?

The following excerpt is one of my favorite bits from Saving the Planet & Stuff. In order to create humor, I use hyperbole to ramp up the decision-making those trying to live environmentally sound lives do. But I also think this conversation illustrates a real struggle.

At least, I'm struggling.

See my picnic dish collection to the right? I've had them since 2001 and used them for large family al fresco meals over the years. I don't buy paper plates or napkins or plastic picnic cutlery. But it takes quite a while to get these things washed. Cheap plastic must hold grease. Sinks full of water go down the drain before we finish the job. But I've done the kind of thinking Nora does below and decided that my priority is solid waste, those disposable paper plates and cutlery, over detergents and water. If I lived in California right now, no doubt I'd feel differently.

Seriously, I don't live all that environmentally sound a lifestyle. People who do have to do this kind of priority assessment all the time.

    "Michael? I'm Maureen Bogda," she announced.
    "Associate editor," Amber reminded him. "Don't ask what that is. I was here all of July and August last year and never figured it out."
    "We have something we'd like you to take care of for us. We need you to go out and pick up a few lunches," Maureen said as she handed Michael several orders with cash clipped to them and explained how he would find the restaurant.
    Amber caught Michael's eye. "Speaking of sucky work—"
    "Oh, no!" Michael objected. "I like buying things."
    "I'm glad to hear that," Maureen said, "because Nora asked if you would stop at the little grocery store on the corner to pick up some soy milk and eggs. She wants the free-range eggs from chickens that have never lived in cages, if they have them this week. However, she says that if they are packed in a plastic package to please check and make sure the package is either number one or two plastic because that's all we can recycle in this town. If they have the free-range eggs, but they're packed in the wrong kind of plastic, don't get them. Get regular eggs, but make sure the regular eggs are in a cardboard package, not Styrofoam, because Nora doesn't buy Styrofoam."
    "Uh … just a minute. I'd better write that down," Michael said as he started to look over Amber's desk, hoping to find some paper.
    "Nora did it for you," Maureen replied as she handed Michael another piece of paper and some more money.

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42. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Six: No, This Isn't Just Composting Toilet Humor

Everything that appears in a work of fiction should be there for a reason. Everything has to support the story--the plot, the theme, the characters, the setting, the point of view. It has to do something.

This is a particular issue for people who write humor. You just can't throw random jokes into a narrative. If they don't support the story in some way, jokes will stop the narrative drive dead in its tracks while readers stop to have a laugh. Too much of that and readers can stop feeling anything drawing them forward at all. And there's only so long they'll stick around to read jokes.

Think of the difference between old time comics who stood on a stage and just told one joke after another and a well-done sitcom in which all the humor comes out of a particular situation--a  workplace or a family, for instance. Writers of fiction want their humor to come out of a situation and not just be a series of jokes.

Today's Saving the Planet & Stuff excerpt illustrates that point. 

"So, Michael, where do you stand on the issue of composting toilets?" Amber asked.
    Michael stopped dead in his tracks and stared at her for a moment. Then he said, "What are my choices?"
    "Composting toilets—those things with a container of some sort under the seat so when you flush, nothing goes very far? Then you throw a handful of bark mulch or some leaves in there with the crap, and it all decomposes?"
    Michael started to grin. Okay! he thought ecstatically. She's coming on to me.
    "What? You think I'm joking?" Amber asked, mistaking the look of joy on Michael's face for appreciation of toilet humor.
    "Well, it doesn't sound much like a joke," Michael admitted, "not a very funny one, anyway. But it is kind of … an odd thought."
    "You've never heard of composting toilets, have you? Well, you're lucky I brought it up, because you're going to. It's, like, a big political issue here," Amber explained. She took a deep breath as if getting ready for a long speech. Her sweater rose up as her lungs—and her chest—expanded. "At one end of the spectrum you've got your people who want to see all human waste transformed into nutrients in a box under their johns and used to fertilize public parks and gardens so they can feel a sense of unity with their environment. At the other end you've got folks who don't understand why the federal government isn't committing big bucks to researching ways to vaporize their
doodie like they do on Star Trek so they'll never have to think about it again."
    "They vaporize doodie on Star Trek?" Michael asked.
The composting toilet thread in Saving the Planet & Stuff is not just an opportunity to squeeze in some toilet talk. It supports one of my themes, the effort, thought, and decision-making that goes into attempting to live an environmental lifestyle. It also supports character because it will eventually illustrate what a mania--how intense--Walt is.

I actually have seen a composting toilet, though it was at an outdoor park, not in an office where Walt was hoping to install one. I believe it was at the Ecological Park of the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick, Canada. My recollection is that they had some in little sheds like the one you can see to the left in this picture. That would explain the pipe you see to the left of that building's roof.

And, by the way, we are an engineering family. Of course, the issue of managing sewage on a starship has been addressed in our home. Probably at our dinner table. We've always wanted to see an episode in which Scottie or Geordie has to deal with the engineering crisis that would come about with an epic sewage treatment failure. Anyone else notice that the treatment system never gets damaged when the Enterprise is under attack?

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Why? Why must you torture me like this? What did I ever do to deserve this treatment other than heap undying love and devotion to your upkeep?

(MR. EVERYBODY glances up and returns to reading his book)

You seem to be dying slowly right in front of my eyes and I'm at a loss how to save you

(looking around)
You talking to me?

Fed you top of the line nutritional supplements and this is the thanks I get

I appreciate your cooking, honey. You make fantastic meals and really, I'm in great shape

You are not aging well, sweetheart


(gets up to examine himself in the mirror on the wall behind him)

For the record, I'm in better condition now than I was when we married. Sure there's a few extra inches on my stomach but that's due to your good cooking. Work out on the tread mill...

I fear it's time for us to part, sweetheart. You are halfway between this world and the next

Say what? Is it something I said?

You've given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Your nightly performance kept me riveted and it's something I will cherish all my life

Hey! There's still a lot of life left in this body! Is there somebody else? I can change, y'know!

(MRS. EVERYBODY turns around and stares at her husband)

It's just so hard to say goodbye! Did you say something?

You never said a word. I deserve to know who's the new love of your life!

Say what? What are you babbling about?

You're leaving me!

Are you insane? You thought that... That is really funny

There is nothing funny about being informed that your wife is leaving your for someone else. It's always the husband that is the last to know

Husband of mine - I was talking to my prayer plant here that is slowly croaking after 40 years and I'm about to replace her with a new one

How was I supposed to know? There was only you and me in the room and I never guessed you were talking to a...a... house plant

I've raised this houseplant from a small little stalk. Fed her...coddled her...and she gave me years of pleasure but lately she seems to have taken a turn for the worst. The writing is on the wall...or in this case, in all those brown leaves.

A plant is a plant is a plant. Don't know what the big thing is. Just empty the pot and replace it with a new one. Simple

How could you be so cruel and callous! You just can't...discard it like it that!

I dunno. Never bothers you to do that with your clothes

Besides, I read an article that said plants can sense pain and they react to it. How could I betray my friend after all the years we've been together? I feel like a killer! I feel like I'd be ripping out her guts and tearing her apart

Not that I pretend to feel what you feel but check this out

(MR. EVERYBODY shows her a page of the newspaper)

What's this? The Plant-a-atrium is having a sale on houseplants?

(turns to look at plant and at newspaper ad)

(MRS. EVERYBODY cont'd.)  'Parting is such sweet sorrow my formerly green friend. Go meet your other friends in the composter! Do not think badly of me for I shall remember you with great fondness.' I'm ready.

Ready for...?

To make new friends at the Plant-a-atrium, silly! We all gotta go some time. I mean, it's just a silly plant for heaven's sake...

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44. Caveman, ABC Story, by Janee Trasler

A funny, one-word-at-a-time story, about cavemen, dinosaurs, and the alphabet.

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One of the things I love about mysteries is how much they vary. This mystery could be described as "cozy," because of the presence of old ladies, but the main character is an out of work child actress who really is the most reluctant of Miss... Read the rest of this post

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46. Wishing...and hoping...and thinking...and praying...

Somehow - perhaps it's the arrival of Spring and all that it promises - one anticipates updates as to the fate of one's (mine of course) literary send-outs. More specifically and to put it in simply and succinctly ('that's a lot of sss's, Eleanor'), will any of my plays see a stage this year.

Throughout the year minor dialogue changes were made, a few lines were eliminated or added but for the most part they were sent on their way based on the strength of the story line and characters, to seek their fate. Waiting to receive news about one's plays is comparable, at least for me, to sending your children out to seek their fortune in the jungle of life (feeling very philosophical today) for their own good, if not for the caregiver's good. So they're all "out there" and the wait for any updates is all-consuming wondering and hypothesizing what's happening at the 'other end', so to speak.

"How many more plays are left to be read?" a literary manager might ask a theatre producer and play readers while assessing the amount of plays still waiting to be read  "Seems like there are thousands more waiting to be read."

"We have to narrow it down to just a few promising plays, already," the literary manager will/could/might declare, while checking her/his cell phone for phone messages. "Time is marching on and we have to choose some potential money-makers for the coming season."

"I've come across a promising production," one of the readers could suggest, "although the playwright doesn't have any track record. The play, though, is really a good read."

"Nothing produced, anywhere, in the whole wide world?" the producer would ask of the reader.

"Not according to her biography and CV but really - she's good and this play is and an entertaining read  - really funny!" the reader would affirm.

"Could be problematic if she hasn't got a recognizable name that could sell tickets, though," the literary manager and/or producer would put forward.

"But it's a really good play," the reader would insist. "Why not give her a chance?"

"Not bankable," the literary manager and/or producer would answer, somewhat sadly (one would hope). "File away for future considerations."

Pure speculation on my part but one has to do something waiting for "the word". Then again, depending on what the word is, perhaps ignorance is bliss.

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47. Still waiting - what does that mean, she who pens plays ponders...

As mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog, patience isn't one of my strong points. This usually doesn't work in my favor especially when it comes to waiting for updates/news regarding the fate of my plays. Many of them took cyber trips to numerous geographical locations around the globe in the hope that they would see a stage but so far, no response one way or the other.

According to the various playwriting related sites where this topic is discussed and digested, this is not a good sign but perhaps no definitive decision has been made as to their stage-a-bility. At least that's what I tell myself.

There is a pattern as to my follow up process, which includes avowing to myself that I will wait to receive "the word."

"Gotta give it time," I tell myself. "People don't respond because you want them to. Your plays are among hundreds, maybe thousands, that are submitted with dreams of production."

Patience today, patience tomorrow, inevitably, and when experiencing a particularly discouraging "why do I bother" or "maybe my plays suck" period, a follow-up e-mail is sent out. Usually, the end result is no response followed by a period of "why didn't I wait."

Upon reflection, perhaps a follow-up questionnaire to the submitted theatres would facilitate the process. Something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah (insert theatre name/producer/to whom it may concern),

Recently, (insert date that play was submitted), you were the lucky recipient of my play, blah-blah (insert name of play).

It has been (number of days/weeks/months/years/who remembers) since there has been any updates as to whether said play strikes your fancy. Perhaps the lack of communication on your part is a result of (pick one) a) stunning dialogue requiring further thought b) seeking a period of time in which to program the play to optimize audience participation  c) unable to open file.

When could a decision on its fate one way or the other be expected: a) days b) months c)years d) never (please circle one)

Yours forever in hope,

A. Playwright

It's worth a shot. Am I right?

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48. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Three

By the time Michael Racine reaches the Vermont border with Walt and Nora, he has figured out that spending time with these two isn't going to be more of the same for him. After his first meal in their solar home, which he thought was chicken parm until he realized they were vegetarians so God only knew what he'd just eaten, Nora takes him upstairs to what will be his room for the next month or so. She was unprepared for a guest, and Michael was unprepared for what he found.

    There were two small, horizontal windows crammed between two narrow closets and above a set of built-in drawers on the exterior wall across from him ("Built-in furniture provides extra insulation," Nora explained). Michael barely noticed them because he was so busy taking in the bed, the floor of a closet—its door couldn't be shut—a little table with an arrangement of cobweb-draped dried flowers, and an armchair with a matching footstool, which were all covered with … stuff.
    "I'm afraid we've collected a few things over the years," Nora said apologetically.
    "Wow. You collect bags of Styrofoam beans," Michael said, pointing to four bags filled with them.
    "They aren't biodegradable, so we didn't want to throw them out when the town still had a landfill. We use them as packing when we want to mail something," Nora explained.
     Michael lifted a roll of used bubble packaging off from the bed. "I guess you don't mail stuff very often, huh?"
     Nora took the roll from Michael. "I keep meaning to take them into the office. They'll get used there. Maybe we could bring them with us tomorrow."
     The rest of the room's contents would not be as easy to dispose of. There were a couple of bundles of brown paper bags, and plastic sacks filled with more plastic sacks. There was a pile of very ratty bath towels, a half dozen decorative tins of various sizes, partially burned candles, empty cardboard boxes, a variety of canvas satchels stamped with the names of various organizations, two partial sets of dishes, stacks and stacks and stacks of magazines, three …
    "You see," Nora began awkwardly, "we're trying to control waste by diverting materials from landfills—which are reaching capacity in a lot of places, you know—and the regional incinerators that are replacing them. We did an article in The Earth's Wife on that in, I think, June of '98."
    So they're diverting materials from the landfill to their spare bedroom? Michael wondered.
Okay. So this is kind of autobiographical. I don't so much try to divert waste from the transfer station, which is what our community has now, as keep it from going there for as long as possible. I hold on to things like Nora does so I can use them again or find a way to pass them on to some unsuspecting soul. It's kind of like the Schroedinger's Cat thing. So long as these things are somewhere in my house, they have the potential to be either useful or solid waste. It could go either way.

Here, for instance, is my most recent bubble wrap collection. I have used hoarded bubble wrap for mailing packages, though I'll also admit that I dumped some during a time management clean out binge. The wrap you see in this picture all showed up in one order that was shipped in four different boxes this past month. It's as if these people sit down and think of ways to generate waste.

And here are two different views of our box collection. Yesterday a house guest told me she was leaving me a gift box for my collection. I particularly like gift boxes, and she knows it, so it was a touching moment.

Like Nora, I have a bag collection...

...and a decorative tin collection...

...and here are my back issues of Yoga Journal.

All these things can be used again, so there's no reason for them to be trashed. Except for the Yoga Journals. That's a really fine magazine, which is why I hold on to them, but I am planning to weed through those things because you can't really use them for something the way you can those tins, bags, boxes, and bubble wrap rolls. To be truthful, though, I'm three months behind reading the new issues, so it will be a while before I see any progress on the back ones.

Unlike Walt and Nora, I do not have all this stuff spread over a spare bedroom. But I like humor that comes about when two conflicting thought processes/world views come together, and a little hyperbole is very helpful in creating that.

Additionally, though, with scenes like this one I wanted to illustrate the effort and attention to detail that goes into an attempt to live anything approaching an environmentally sound lifestyle.

If any readers are Noras and have collection of useful items they are keeping from transfer stations, feel free to share in the Comments.

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49. #667 – LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser

cover - publisherx


Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age

. . . . .(How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species)
Written by David Zeltser
Illustrations by Jan Gerardi
Egmont USA          2014
190 pages       Age 8 to 12
“In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding it against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game. The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. Because Lug is different, his clan’s Big Man is out to get him, he’s got a pair of bullies on his case—oh, and the Ice Age is coming. When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo (a Boar Rider girl!). In a world experiencing some serious global cooling, these misfits must protect their feuding clans from the impending freeze and a particularly unpleasant pride of migrating saber-toothed tigers.” [book jacket]
About the Story
The clan has broken into two factions, the Macrauchenia Riders and the Boar Riders. Each clan believes the other are uncivilized—without laws, few table manners, and possibly cannibals—yet each clan is living exactly like the other clan lives. The two only get together for the Big Game, called Headstone, where, using stones, they bash in opponents’ heads. To become cavemen, caveboys must catch an animal to ride in the Big Game.

Lug, a smaller caveboy, is the outsider, the one the bullies and their cohorts pick on. He has no interest in Headstone. Lug AG4simply wants to draw, something not understood by others. He fails to catch a llama and is banished to the woods, along with Stone, who also failed. The hot and humid weather is getting colder, something Lug notices but others brush off. The Ice Age is on its way and no one will listen, except Crazy Crag—banished years ago—and Hamela (aka Echo), a Boar Rider girl. To make matters worse, a pride of hungry saber-toothed tigers is migrating south and heading for the clans—and a meal of cave-people-steak. The cave kids try to save their people with the help of Woolly, a baby woolly mammoth, lost from its family, who can communicate with Echo. Living alone in the woods, Crazy Crag has figured out a few things. Can Lug learn Crazy Crag’s secret in time to save the clans people, or will they become extinct?

LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age
has all the elements of a book: fast-paced action, suspense, and good characters the reader can relate to and enjoy. Written for middle grade kids, younger advanced readers will also enjoy LUG’s charm. I like the cover and the illustrations, which are black-and-white cave-like drawings, slanted enough to often be funny. The story itself has kid-funny action and characters. Reading it will make you laugh and sometimes groan at the word play, (Headstone; Smilus, the ruthless head saber-tooth tiger; Bonehead, the Big Man’s son).

I love the curly-haired Echo, who is an activist and a vegetarian, possibly the world’s first. I also loved the coming of the CG 4 EchoIce Age’s parallel to today’s climate crisis. LUG might make kids more aware of their own climate changing. Lug agrees, writing in a pre-story note,

“. . . You see, the world began to get colder—much colder. And my clan initially reacted by doing this:




“That’s right, a whole lot of NOTHING . . . I hope this story will inspire you to pay attention to the big changes happening to your world. If you are extinct, sorry.”

There are no prehistoric dinosaurs, but the animals you will find have interesting qualities, including finding a way to talk to humans. More than anything, I like LUG because it is a good story. If cave kids could read, they would have enjoyed LUG

Lug returns for more prehistoric climate-change adventures this Fall (2015) in LUG: Blast from the North (working title). LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age is David Zeltser’s debut children’s series.  (20% of proceeds go to organizations that help children and families in need.)

LUG: DAWN OF THE ICE AGE (HOW ONE SMALL BOY SAVED OUR BIG DUMB SPECIES). Text copyright © 2014 by David Zeltser. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jan Gerardi. Published in 2014 by Egmont USA, New York, NY.
Purchase LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age at AmazoniTunesBook DepositoryEgmont USA.

Learn more about LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age HERE.
Meet the author, David Zeltser, at his website:  http://www.davidzeltser.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jan Gerardi, short bio:  http://bit.ly/19Z1Vh3
Find more Middle Grade Books at the Egmont USA website:  http://egmontusa.com/

Curriculum Guide can be found HERE.
Activity Guide can be found HERE.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Fast Friday Read, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: cavemen, children's books, David Zeltser, Egmont USA, humor, Jan Gerardi, LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age, prehistoric era

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50. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Five: Eco-humor

Part of Michael's job as office peon at the editorial offices of The Earth's Wife is to screen in-coming e-mails, which is how he stumbles upon a plot involving a major manufacturer and insulation. But he has to read a few e-mails before he gets to that point. Both the e-mails in this post illustrate humor that comes from the disconnect that occurs when two unrelated ideas/events come together.

The following e-mail was funny at the time because when Saving the Planet & Stuff first appeared in 2003 fiction about the environment wasn't common. The term climate fiction was still a few years away. Nature writing tended to be Thoreau-type essays. Journalists covered the environment. So the idea of eco-fiction was funny because it didn't exist.

Now eco-fiction is a term that is used and discussed, so the idea of eco-fiction is no longer funny. The humor in this first e-mail now relies pretty much on comparing eco-fiction to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Dear Earths' Wife,
Kudos on another wonderful issue!
One suggestion—Have you ever considered doing a fiction issue? No one is publishing eco-fiction right now. I don't know why. You could do a special issue once a year on ecologically themed literature the way Sports Illustrated does a special issue once a year on women's swimsuits. Look how much people look forward to that!
This next e-mail illustrates why hypocrisy can be funny.  Totally clueless characters who say one thing but do another can often be mined for laughs because they are providing that disconnect between two unrelated ideas/concepts.

To the Editor:
I very much enjoyed last month's article on the pollution caused by vehicles using drive-up windows at fastfood restaurants and banks. You only have to sit in a line of cars waiting ten minutes or more for a couple of burgers and a shake, as I have done many times, to realize our atmosphere is being poisoned. Last week I used drive-up windows at a bank twice and a drugstore once. Isn't it awful that you can get your prescriptions at drive-up windows now? It ought to be a crime, all those cars sitting there with their engines running. I counted eight the last time I was at Burger King. I wouldn't have used the drive-up that day, myself, but it looked as if there was no place to sit inside anyway.
Additionally, drive-up windows are a particular environmental complaint of mine. Why does no one do a study on the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere because tens of thousands of people can't get out of their cars to buy a Big Mac? I can't be the only person who wonders about that. Can I?

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