Friday, October 12, 2018

Fiona Friday


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett, illus. by Mike Lowery



First things first: Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover is a hoot. I read a lot of children's books that claim to be funny but this one really had me smiling all the way through. I thought that was worth mentioning, in case you skip everything else. Awkward title, though.

Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover is fiction, of course, but the author humorously calls it a memoir of his time as a spy.

At the opening of the book, Mac reflects on a time when Her Royal Highness, the Queen of England called Mac. She chose him because he had A's in every class (although his handwriting needed work). She needed a spy to find her missing crown jewels. Actually, just one piece of the crown jewels: the Coronation Spoon. Sure, Mac was American and a kid, but he was definitely the right guy for the job.

In 1989, after receiving the phone call, Mac flies to England, where he's given instructions and learns about the spoon. He is given a secret identity kit and the queen loans him one of her corgis to help out. Mac follows the trail from London to France to Moscow and then goes home without his pants.* It's an interesting story.

Highly recommended - I think what I loved most about Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover was the fact that it was educational. Any time the author shares some interesting fact he says, "You can look that up." I looked up a few things. Some I already knew because I'm not in middle school. I knew nothing at all about the Coronation Spoon. That was quite interesting. I lived through 1989, so I know a little bit about the reason Mac went home without his pants. Anyone who lived through the 80s knows all about that (it's a spoiler, sorry). The worst thing about the book is the title, but I loved the book so much that I found myself wishing the publisher had sent me the next book in the series. A great book for the adventurous, humor-loving middle grade reader in your world. Also great for class or library.

*"pants" is the American version that refers to trousers - in this case, a pair of jeans


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Monday Malarkey


Recent arrivals:


  • Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - from Berkley Books for tour
  • The Sadness of Beautiful Things by Simon Van Booy - purchased
  • Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang - from Sterling Children's Books for review


Funny, last week all the covers were shades of blue; this week they've all got red in them. It's like they're arriving thematically. I've already read The Sadness of Beautiful Things, of course, and am dying to give it a second go. I'll likely reread the first story, tonight. I've also read Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts. The last title, Seven Days of Us, is an October tour book but it's a Christmas story so I get a jump on the Christmas season. I love Christmas books and I'm really looking forward to reading that. 



Books finished since last week's Malarkey:


  • A Brown Man in Russia by Vijay Menon
  • The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher
  • Sam Wu is No Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang
  • News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail Dewitt



As always, a good week throws me behind in the reviewing. It's funny how that goes. If I'm having a bad reading week, I'm probably catching up nicely on reviews. If I'm having a good reading week, I'm happy because I'm having a good reading week, even if that means the reviewing suffers. So, it's a glass half full situation. Something is always going right.


Currently reading:


I read a little bit of Crux: A Cross Border Memoir by Jean Guerrero, this morning. But, I'm not yet sure if it's going to stick, so I'm going to say I'm between reads. I haven't officially settled on anything at all.


Posts since last Malarkey:



Worth noting: the author of Sons and Soldiers dropped by to mention that Sons and Soldiers is being made into a limited TV series. I guess that's another way of saying "mini series"? At any rate, I'm excited about that because it's excellent and one of my favorite books of the year.


In other news:



We've temporarily got access to the Hallmark Channel, so I've been bingeing on sappy romances, including one that starred Meghan Markle (first time I've actually seen her act), The Dater's Handbook. I liked them all. They make my husband's eyes roll, and yet he doesn't leave the room, so there must be some appeal in the predictability of these movies, even for my "Ugh, I can't stand romance," husband.




We also tuned in to see the new Doctor Who, yesterday, and both enjoyed Jodie Whittaker in the starring role.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Fiona Friday - Ready for fall



©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher


The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher begins in 1938 as Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy is on the verge of her debut in London, where her father is ambassador. The Kennedys have already made a splash and are well-known, but Kick's debut goes swimmingly. Kick loves London and is quickly embraced by a wide circle of upper-class friends, both American and British. But, there's one particular Marquess who has caught her eye.

Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, is tall, handsome, and reserved. But, he's also a Protestant and the Kennedy family is Irish Catholic. Both her mother, Rose, and his father are against the pairing. Kick and Billy are aware of everyone's reservations, but Kick is determined to create her own path. And, she is drawn to Billy from their first meeting.

Against a backdrop of impending war, Billy and Kick attend parties and Kick does charitable work, enjoying the company of their mutual friends and each other while ignoring the concerns of friends and family. But, war is inevitable as Hitler's army spreads across Europe. After Germany and Russia sign a non-aggression agreement and Hitler invades Poland, Billy joins the army and Kick is forced to go home to America. Will their love survive being separated by an ocean? What will energetic Kick do to fill her time, back home? When Kick decides to return to England, will she succeed? If she and Billy marry, how will they handle the religious problem?

I read up a little on Kick Kennedy before reading The Kennedy Debutante, so I knew the general outline of her life and enjoyed having the rest filled in.

Recommended - The writing in The Kennedy Debutante leans light, as in easy reading, but it appears to be very thoroughly researched if a bit heavy-handed, on occasion (emphasis on sister Rosemary's erratic behavior, for example, was pushed a bit hard without really leaving me with a feel for what exactly her problem was, whether it was mental illness, Attention Deficit Disorder, or simply a personality the family couldn't handle). What I liked most about The Kennedy Debutante was the glimpse into life as a Kennedy and the time period in which it's set, both of which I thought were handled nicely and stuck what I know about both the war and the family. The story doesn't go all the way to the end of her life, but I also thought the author chose a good place to stop. I'd particularly recommend The Kennedy Debutante to fans of historical fiction, people who are interested in the Kennedy family, and those who enjoy a tragic romance.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson


The subtitle of Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson is: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler. The book begins by telling the stories of a handful of those escaped Jews, all of whom were boys and all of whom left their entire families behind (although one father and his second wife were later able to escape).

Sons and Soldiers is thorough and well researched and therefore a slow read, but for good reason. Each of the stories of the boys who escaped is told beginning around the time Hitler came into power. You really get to know the boys, their families, and the atmosphere in which they grew up -- how they were a part of their villages or cities but slowly, as the Nazi fervor grew and the laws restricted their schooling, their jobs, their finances, their freedom of movement, and everything else about their lives, things became more and more dangerous. One of the boys was imprisoned in a concentration camp, early on, and then escaped to England, only to end up being declared an enemy when Britain entered the war and put into another camp. Another ended up in an orphanage after his father lost his wife and his livelihood.

Gradually, each of these boys were sent to the United States -- some saved by organizations, all with some form of help by way of sponsorship in the U.S., often after reaching another European nation, first.

Finally, they all ended up in the service, eventually trained in the same program, in which their skill in German and sometimes other languages singled them out for training in interrogation. They were known as "Ritchie Boys" and Sons and Soldiers tells about their training, how each of them entered the country, and how they contributed crucial intel during the Invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and other battles.

Highly Recommended - Sons and Soldiers is an exceptionally in-depth but immensely readable book. I loved the way the subject was handled, introducing the reader to each of the boys before following their lives in the United States and then their training, return to Europe, and the work they performed interrogating captured Germans. Because they needed to get information out of the captured Germans as quickly as possible, they were stationed near the front lines, where they were subject to tremendous danger. At least one of the young men parachuted into enemy territory after only a single lesson. All were determined to do their part to free Europe from Hitler and many hoped to find family.

Sons and Soldiers is told factually, and yet it's a tremendously moving, emotional read because you get to know the soldiers so well, first as boys and then as young men. You know who they left behind and, often, when they last heard from family members. You're there with them when they're captured by the Germans or hit by shrapnel, when their friends are blown up or executed, and when they walk into the concentration camps at the end of the war and discover the horror their relatives likely suffered. Stephan, Gunther, Martin, Manfred . . . each of them will take a place in your heart. I really appreciated the fact that the author wrapped up their stories with a final section on the remainder of their lives (some still living) to the time of publication.

Note: Even the endpapers of this book have meaning. Inside the front cover of the hardback are photos of each of the boys with their families. Inside the back cover: photos of them as young men, after the war (their are additional photographs scattered throughout the book). Those who were able to find family members are shown with them.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Monday Malarkey


Recent arrivals (top to bottom):


  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel) - From Berkley for review
  • Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak - from Knopf for review
  • Transcription by Kate Atkinson - purchased


This is a super exciting stack. I've been eagerly awaiting Transcription since I heard about it (it was a pre-order), had fingers crossed that I'd get a copy of Bridge of Clay when I requested an ARC, and am always excited about anything with cats in the title. Japanese Lit can be weird, unsettling, or thought-provoking, but sometimes it can be just flat beautiful. I'm hoping for the latter, but I don't mind an unsettling read, especially in the fall. The Travelling Cat Chronicles and Transcription have particularly beautiful covers:



Books finished since last week's Malarkey:


  • The Sadness of Beautiful Things (Stories) by Simon Van Booy
  • Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
  • Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson


Two of those were among my favorites of the month. It was so refreshing to sink into Simon's gorgeous, melodic prose. I love his short stories. Sons and Soldiers took me forever to get through but it was also a 5-star read, although a difficult one because it told stories of love and loss so vividly. You really get to know the young German men who escaped their home country without their families and then returned as American soldiers.


Currently reading:


  • The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher
  • A Brown Man in Russia by Vijay Menon


I am almost done with A Brown Man in Russia, which I didn't touch till last night because I was focusing on the other books. I'll finish that, tonight. The Kennedy Debutante is a fictionalized telling of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy's time as a debutante in London. I'm not sure how far it goes in time. I really didn't know a thing about Kick, so I read up a little and discovered that she died quite young. It's nice, light reading after the heaviness of Sons and Soldiers, which starts with the horror of living as a Jew in 1930s Germany and ends with each man's discovery of what happened to his family.


Posts since last Malarkey:

When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer (book review)
Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis (book review)
Never Too Young by Aileen Weintraub (book review)
Fiona Friday - Squirrel! (cat photo)


In other news:

We're on Season 7 of Doc Martin, I believe. Martin and Louisa have finally married. I keep thinking, "This is as far as we got, when we watched Doc Martin in the past. No, this is as far as we got." I'm just going to have to give up and admit I have no idea where we left off (the more recent seasons have only been viewed sporadically, so it makes sense that I don't know what we've viewed). At any rate, I'm glad they've finally gotten hitched.

I spent all of Thursday riveted to the TV and the rest of the time my focus has been on making it to the gym. In fact, I drove to the gym during a break in the Kavanaugh hearing and only missed a few minutes on the return home. The rest of the week was not a TV/movie week. And, the rock I'm painting, right now, is supposed to look like a kiwi slice on a purple background. I even dreamed about finding one of the local rock decorator's creations, last week. We have a local who decorates her rocks with moss, glitter, and little figurines, rather than painting them. They are so cool! I haven't gone looking for rocks, yet, but I'm hoping someday I'll find one of Savannah's rocks.



©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Fiona Friday - Squirrel!

Also notable: the window is open! I don't expect the cool air to last long but boy, are we enjoying it.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Never Too Young by Aileen Weintraub, illus. by Laura Horton


Never Too Young: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference by Aileen Weintraub is a book of mini-bios of kids who either showed brilliance at a skill or went above and beyond to make life better for people while still young. Some of them still are not all that old, some are stories of historical characters who have come and gone.

I've reviewed some similar books of mini bios about adults but I believe this is the first one I've read that's specifically about how natural talent, hard work, and skill manifested early. There's quite a variety and both familiar names and more obscure youngsters are covered. Amongst those who are familiar, a few are:


  • Pablo Picasso, who finished his first painting, Le Picador, at the age of 9;
  • Venus and Serena Williams, who started playing tennis when they were just 3 and 4 years old;
  • Joan of Arc, who was allegedly told she would lead the French to victory over the English by an angel and decided to fulfill her destiny at the age of 16;
  • Stevie Wonder, who began playing piano and drums at the age of 9 and whose neighbors loved to hear his singing by the time he was 10; 
  • Bobby Fischer, who became obsessed with chess at the age of 6 and became the youngest US Junior Chess Champion ever at the age of 13.


Although they're familiar to the adults in the room, some of those names may not be known to youngsters and I didn't know a few of them were child prodigies. I merely knew them as successful adults.

I love the fact that author Aileen Weintraub didn't stick to just those who are well-known, though. Some of those I'd never heard of:


  • Yash Gupta - who created a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes used eyeglasses to students in need;
  • Akrit Jaswal - a child prodigy who was performing surgery by the age of 7 and enrolled in college by eleven;
  • Marley Dias - who collected books about black girls and started a black girls book club after feeling disappointment that so many books were about white boys and their experiences; 
  • Autumn de Forest - Still young, Autumn's paintings were selling for thousands of dollars by the time she was 7 years old; 
  • Katie Stagliano - who donated a 40-pound cabbage to a soup kitchen and came up with the idea to plant gardens across the country and donate the harvests to the feeding of hungry people. 


Highly recommended - Great for school libraries and any youngster who likes to read inspiring stories about children who have done big things, Never Too Young would also make a great reference for classrooms to use as a starting point for class projects or reports.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis (Heartbreaker Bay #6)


In Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis, Molly and Lucas work together at a security firm. When he wakes up in bed with Molly, Lucas is a little freaked out. He remembers feeling compelled to take a single drink, the night before, and then . . . nothing. What happened with Molly, last night? Molly is behaving more than a little bit shifty. Lucas has recently been shot, hence the blackout. Even a single drink with his painkillers was too much. But, Molly is not saying what happened.

Bored with being off work, Lucas insists on returning without clearance from his doctor. Molly is the office manager but she wants to get involved in the investigation side of the firm. To that end, she's brought up a case to her boss. Some elderly women who work as elves at a local Christmas Village are concerned that Santa is not sharing the profits as he usually does. They think he's being greedy and keeping their bonus money.

Molly's boss, Archer, says they're overbooked and that's not their kind of case, anyway. But, Molly is determined. To keep her safe, Archer asks Lucas to keep an eye on her. He'll have to pretend to work with her. But, before he gets around to offering to help, Molly asks for his assistance.

Now that Lucas thinks he's slept with Molly, he realizes just how much he's attracted to her. Molly feels the same but she has secrets and works hard to keep them close. But, now that the wall between them has been broken down, will they be able to stay away from each other? What will happen when Molly goes undercover as an elf and discovers that Santa's story is a lot more dangerous than she could have imagined?

Hot Winter Nights is a romance, so you know the answer to that first question about whether or not they'll be able to keep their hands off each other is a flat "No." But, neither one of them is the type to commit. Molly has been hurt in the past and Lucas has suffered two shocking losses that have convinced him he must never give his heart away, again.

Recommended to a specific audience - Hot Winter Nights contains a favorite blend for romance readers: an alpha male and a plucky female who is every bit as capable as the guys. I liked the story and I sighed at the ending. Romance readers will love it. I was a little disappointed that it was light on action. I'm not a typical romance reader, so the bedroom scenes honestly just bore me, and there are a lot of them. Fortunately, there are some terrific scenes toward the end -- an exciting concluding scene with plenty of danger, followed by a heartwarming ending. So I closed the book happy. It might not be a favorite because I like more action and less romance but Hot Winter Nights left me satisfied, in the end.

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis is the 6th book in the Hearbreaker Bay series. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but it stands alone fine. Back when I was involved in a romance writers group, Jill Shalvis was one of my favorite romance writers for her sense of humor. This particular book was less lighthearted than the Jill Shalvis stories I read back in the 90s but every now and then you get a glimpse of her sense of humor.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer


In When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer, Lily Decker has a long-range plan. She's 18 and has entered the age during which people are most likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a disease that has attacked the women in her family for at least 3 generations. Her mother had paranoid schizophrenia and tried to throw Lily off a roof to make her fly. Lily is still haunted by her mother's actions and the way her father watches over her doesn't help. For the next 12 years, Lily plans to keep her life calm, avoid drugs and alcohol, and have her best friend, Sawyer, regularly quiz her to see if she's showing signs of schizophrenia.

There's only one problem: life is becoming stressful. After getting an unpaid internship at the local newspaper and coming up with a "name the baby elephant" fundraiser for the zoo, Lily goes to interview the zookeeper. The baby elephant, Swift Jones, is attacked by her mother while Lily's there. Remembering her own mother's attack, Lily steps between the calf and her mother. She's fortunate not to get killed, but the incident and the article that ends up being published will complicate her life.

*****WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. SKIP DOWN TO WHERE I'VE DECLARED IT SAFE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR TOO MUCH ABOUT THE PLOT*****

Now not only the calf's life is in danger but her future, as well. Swifty, as Lily begins to call her, is the offspring of a zoo mother and a father who belongs to a privately-owned circus. Lily tries to keep her article about the interview generic to avoid bringing the danger to the attention of the public. But, when her article is substituted for another that tells the unvarnished truth about Swifty being attacked by her mother, the circus insists that Swifty must be flown from the zoo in Oregon to their home in Florida, where she will learn to perform.

Lily ends up going along and finds that the conditions are not good. Baby elephants are sensitive and it's hard enough to get Swifty to eat, now that she's been rejected by her mother. But, things get even worse in Florida. Will Lily be able to come up with a plan to save the elephant calf before it's too late? When the stress and fatigue begin to get to Lily and she starts to hear voices, is it just her imagination or is she beginning to have symptoms of schizophrenia? Is there anything she can do to stop it?

*****OKAY, IT'S SAFE NOW. YOU CAN UNCOVER YOUR EYES.*****

OK, hmm. I have a lot of thoughts about this book. First of all, I found it utterly compelling because of the idea of what it must be like to live with the fear that you might be hit by a hereditary mental illness. It has a bit of a horror story feel in the vein of Richard Matheson's short stories, where something begins to happen and the horror is in not being able to do anything at all about it. Lily has researched medications and seen the difference between her mother on meds and off -- she knows that medication carries its own risks. And, then there's the elephant's story. The two stories deliberately play off each other: elephant and teenager rejected by their mothers and attacked. But, the themes are kind of different. For Lily, the theme has to do with the importance of living her life, even with a threat hanging over her head. For Swifty, it's more a subject of endangered animals and how quickly elephants are being driven to extinction.

I had a few minor problems with the story but I found it engaging and thought-provoking enough to keep me reading.

RecommendedWhen Elephants Fly is moving and heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and meaningful. I really enjoyed the story and I particulary think it would make a great discussion book.  My biggest problem with it was a sagging middle, although there were some other elements that bothered me. Of those, the one that nagged at me the most was the idea that a person who didn't work for the zoo would even be allowed anywhere near the elephants, much less be able to get herself into a situation in which she could have been killed or (later) allowed to travel with the zoo staff. I also wondered about the mental illness aspect. Is it likely that a person would suddenly begin to have symptoms of schizophrenia after having a totally normal first 18 years of life or would she have potentially shown some signs earlier? That seemed somehow "off" to me and a psychologist who wrote a review at Goodreads had some interesting but harsh words to say about the book because she didn't think the psychological elements were quite right.

Having said all that, I also realize it's fiction and it's YA. Although accuracy is certainly preferable, the story might not work as well if the author hadn't taken a little creative license. Part of what keeps the story moving forward is that question about schizophrenia and the main character: "Will Lily be okay?" I think it would make an excellent choice for a mother-daughter or young adult book club. When Elephants Fly opens up an opportunity for discussion about both mental illness and the preservation of wildlife on our planet, both excellent topics.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Malarkey



Recent arrivals (top to bottom):


  • Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis - from Avon Books for review
  • Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, purchased for Open Canon Book Club discussion in October (hit the name of the book club to go to the join-up page, if you're interested)
  • Fear by Bob Woodward, purchased

I don't have to buy the October selection for my local book group because it's one I already own: News of the World by Paulette Giles. It was a favorite read, a couple years ago, so I'm excited to have an excuse to reread it. The Open Canon selection is one I recall reading about pre-release and I've been interested in it but just hadn't gotten around to tracking down a copy, so I'm also looking forward to that. I'm going to have to read faster, though. I am nowhere near completing this month's list of reads with just a week to go before October. 



Books finished since last week's Malarkey:


  • The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson


The Birds of Opulence was the first selection of the Open Canon Book Group, Wiley Cash's new online discussion group. Author Crystal Wilkinson did a Q/A on Wednesday evening and it was marvelous.


Currently reading:


  • The Sadness of Beautiful Things: Stories (e-book) by Simon Van Booy
  • Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson
  • Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
  • A Brown Man in Russia by Vijay Menon


It just occurred to me that I never mention e-books at all, till I read them. That's partly because I don't accept e-books for review, I guess, but mostly because I have trouble thinking of e-books as real books. At any rate, The Sadness of Beautiful Things is a book I was sent by the author in PDF form, a couple weeks ago. I can't bear to read off the computer and it took me 2 or 3 weeks to figure out what my google password is, so that I could enter that password on my iPad (I received it via email) and open the file to read. I finally figured it out by trial and error but I have to reenter my password every time I want to read a story because my iPad likes to close windows and makes me reenter passwords frequently. I think it has some sort of a short it in, somewhere. At any rate, I'm enjoying the stories in The Sadness of Beautiful Things and excited that a new collection of Simon Van Booy's short stories is finally being published. It's been a long time and I always adore Simon's short stories.

Sons and Soldiers was one I hoped to finish, this week, but I came nowhere near. It's just a book that's going to take a while, although actually . . . everything is taking a while. I'm just reading it slowly, partly because I'm going through one of those phases during which I need to balance several books to keep myself reading.

Hot Winter Nights is a book that arrived and then was immediately and unfairly shoved to the head of the line because I agreed to review it this week. And, A Brown Man in Russia is the travel memoir of a young man of Indian descent (his grandparents still live in India) who had some interesting experiences traveling in Russia, particularly because of his disinterest in learning to read Cyrillic or studying a tiny bit of the Russian language before leaving, although apparently it's a bad idea to slide around on the ice like a kid in Russia. So, there are surprising cultural glimpses.


Posts since last Malarkey:




In other news:

I'm still watching the same old things on TV, although I watched the first episode of Season 1 of Jessica Jones with Kiddo, while he was home for the weekend. I liked it but didn't love it. Otherwise, my free time is mostly being spent at the gym and painting rocks, which I'll eventually scatter throughout town. I'm just waiting till I have plenty to hide. Here's my latest:


I sit at the kitchen counter and watch Torchwood while I paint.

This weekend, we went on a jaunt to our favorite vegetable stand. It was so hot that afterwards we drove to the funky Flowood area and had a cold drink at Brent's Drugs, a former drugstore where some scenes from The Help were filmed, and then we walked uphill to the fancy dessert place and got some little cakes. I took a gazillion photos of vegetables at the vegetable stand, with the thought that I'll probably paint some of them. They're all decked out for Halloween. I couldn't help but think half of this will probably be rotten by mid-October if the temperature doesn't cool down. We're still in the upper 80s to lower 90s.


How was your weekend?

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fiona Friday - Ribbon play

She's so entertaining. 


In case you're wondering, Isabel did succeed at pulling down the ribbon. She marched off with her catch (in the third photo, you can see she stopped to check out the contents of the cabinet) and I haven't figured out where she deposited it, yet.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan



Cody Swift was 11 years old when his childhood best friends were murdered. A mentally challenged young man was sent to prison and has since killed himself. Now, Cody has decided to investigate the murders. Was the right man found guilty? Or, were there details that were overlooked? Cody and a friend have created a podcast to describe their findings as they return to Bristol and travel to visit people who were involved in the 20-year-old investigation. 

Detective John Fletcher held one of the boys in his arms as he died. He was happy to quickly close the investigation and put someone behind bars. But, now that Cody Swift's podcast is drawing attention and a new body has been discovered in the same area, a new investigation has been opened and he can't help but wonder if there's a connection between the murder of the boys and the newly-discovered, long-dead man. But, there's more to John Fletcher than meets the eye. What happened during the investigation? Was the lead investigator set up? If so, who was involved and why?

Jess lost her son Charlie 20 years ago and it's been a difficult journey, since. Since Charlie's death, she's felt profoundly guilty, but not for reasons you'd expect. On the night of their disappearance, Jess was gone for many hours. She was never a suspect but those hours have not been explained. With Cody digging into the murders, Jess is nervous. She doesn't want her carefully crafted new life upset and the secret she's kept from her daughter exposed. She knows it will upset her husband but, in need of help, she contacts a crafty and dangerous man, the only man who can help her because he knows her better than anyone. Will the truth of what happened that night be revealed?

OK, where to start? I've read 2 out of 3 of Gilly Macmillan's previous books and I liked them. What She Knew was the first, I think, and it shared a detective with Odd Child Out. I'm not sure of the order but I think Odd Child Out was the more recent one. I liked where the author took that detective and thought the second book I read was even better than the first, which was good but uncomfortable. So, I was hoping this next entry, I Know You Know, would continue on with the same detective. It did not. He's not in the picture at all. There's a whole new cast of characters. It took me a little time to adjust to that, but I found the story intriguing and Gilly Macmillan's writing flows nicely, so her books are always quick reads. I enjoyed that about I Know You Know.

I had some problems with this particular title, though. First of all, Fletcher is a confusing character. You know that he held this child while he was dying and later on, at least one police officer says watching someone die and not being able to save them impacts you for life. So, what's revealed about his character is baffling and there were actually some things that made me think, "I don't buy that." How could he do this if he felt that? That was the sensation I was left with. Obviously, what he did that I found suspect is spoiler material, so I have to keep it vague. However, this question stuck with me throughout the reading. If Gilly Macmillan's writing was a little rougher, I might have given up the book because of this particular problem. But, her writing seriously flows and she's good at pulling you in, so I just kept thinking, "Wait a minute," about every 50 pages or so. Weird, but true. Maybe others can shrug it off completely.

There's also the question of the new body. Whether or not it's connected to the bodies of the boys, why wasn't it found 20 years ago? It's found in the same location, just buried a bit deeper. That eventually would nag at me, although it takes some time before that particular murder victim is identified and his story revealed.

Recommended with hesitation - If a few plot holes don't bother you and you're a mystery fan, you might enjoy I Know You Know. But, for me personally, it was the worst of the Gilly Macmillan books. It was her writing and some well set-up questions that kept me going. I wanted to know how the story ended. I was confused about certain elements, but I couldn't put the book down. The ending, however, was terrible and ruined the read entirely for me. As I'm reading, I'm often mentally scoring a book. It was a 5 for a while because it sucked me in, then a 4 when I started to question certain elements, then it bounced between the two for a while. The ending knocked it down to a 3 and if I'd known it would end that way, I'd have ditched it in spite of how the pages flew.

I Know You Know just did not work for me. Having said that, I think readers who are not quite as picky as I am will likely enjoy it. My general feeling as I put it down: kind of pissed off. Worth mentioning: there are a lot of not-nice characters and that actually doesn't bother me but I'd recommend against reading it if you need someone to relate to. I think the ending was meant to be triumphant for one of the characters, but instead it just made me dislike that character even more. So, the ending just flat did not work. However, I've enjoyed Macmillan's writing style every time I've read it, flaws and all. I will not continue reading her work if she lets me down this thoroughly, in the future, but I'll give her another chance.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Death of the Snakecatcher by Ak Welsapar




Death of the Snake Catcher by Ak Welsapar is a collection of short stories with several different translators. Author Ak Welsapar is originally from Turkmenistan, a country I knew nothing about until I read the introduction of Death of the Snake Catcher and followed that up with a little online reading. It is one of the "most restricted places on the planet", with media that's entirely government controlled and "absymal" human rights (I'm quoting the intro).

You get a sense of what it's like to live in such a closed, somewhat terrifying regime from some of the stories, although they're not all set in Turkmenistan. The author, after being declared an "enemy of the people", eventually had no choice but to escape and has lived in Sweden for decades. Some stories felt to me like they could happen on my home turf, with perhaps a few minor alterations, and some were a little too foreign for me. At least one made very little sense to me because the traditions and expressions were a little too far from my own understanding. But, the book was worth reading for the few that really made an impact and the introduction left an indelible impression on me, as did my favorite story.

A few of the stories:

"On the Emerald Shore" - A mist envelops the sea and the locals believe it to be the work of the drowned. Several people have recently drowned in the area. One is missing and presumed dead, another has washed ashore. In the nearby bar, people play billiards and discuss the drownings, wondering about how they may have occurred, especially to the most recent victim, who was muscular and fit.

"Love in Lilac" - My personal favorite, the story of a young man named Arslan who spots a "beautiful, fair-skinned girl" sitting amongst the lilacs in a Moscow park. He approaches her awkwardly and eventually they fall in love. But, it's forbidden to interact with foreigners and she's a student from Sweden. After falling for her hard, he is one day removed from class.

He was picked up by the KGB with a sickening lack of ceremony. 

What follows is one of the most intense sections of a short story that I recall reading since the days when I used to read a lot of Richard Matheson's short stories. I don't want to give it away, but it is an understated sort of menacing experience in which the tension ramps up because of what doesn't happen but could -- and Arslan knows it. I've recently seen comments that some Americans are unconcerned about the possibility that we could become an authoritarian regime. This story should make anyone who made such casual remarks have second thoughts.

"One of the Seven is a Scoundrel" - Another menacing story (the tense stories were my absolute favorites). Seven men are returning home in a horse cart from a hard day's work harvesting and talking about how some nearby villagers have been sent to Siberia when their path intersects with that of some soldiers. The soldiers have a quota of men to take to prison but one has escaped, so they need one more. Who will end up being taken away, not for doing anything wrong but to fill a quota? Who will be the scoundrel who turns him in?

Recommended - The title story, "Death of the Snakecatcher" is another favorite. I recommend Death of the Snakecatcher particularly to short story lovers and people who enjoy reading translations. While there were times I felt like I needed some sort of explanation -- a glossary, an introduction to a particular story, etc., to make sense of specific traditions -- the stories that I liked best were so thought-provoking that I had to put the book down to let a story roll around in my head for a day or two. That has always been the sign of a phenomenal short story to me, not being able to get it out of my head until I've given it some thought or wanting to talk to everyone about it.

Two vocabulary words I learned from this book:

Albescent - (adj.) white or tending toward white. From this passage:
On the third day, a mist enveloped the sea. Albescent, rising up off the water, it launguidly wrapped around the shore, then the town, little by little covering the entire surroundings. 

~from "The Emerald Shore"


Takyr - (n.) meaning "smooth, even, or bare", is a type of relief occurring in the deserts of Central Asia, similar to a salt flat in the southwestern United States. From this passage:
The sweltering summer heat seemed intolerable to the men lying on the horse cart moving along the dried mud takyr path, some holding their coats and some their sheepskin hats under their elbows.

~from "One of the Seven is a Scoundrel"

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday Malarkey


Recent arrivals:


  • The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher - from Penguin Random House for review


Only one book! I'm improving at the self-control thing. My mailbox is sad, but I'm okay with it.


Books finished since last week's Twaddle:


  • When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer
  • Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett, illus. by Mike Lowery

I had mixed feelings about When Elephants Fly, a YA about a young woman whose paranoid schizophrenic mother once tried to throw her off a rooftop and who is now involved in trying to save the life of a newborn elephant. So, I wrote my immediate thoughts at Goodreads and put them behind a spoiler barricade, just in case I'd given anything away. I'm not sure if I did, but I'll have to think about how to write about it carefully, here. 

Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover is goofy fun for middle grade readers. I loved it. It's the first in a series and I wish the publisher had sent #2 along. 



Currently reading:


  • The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson
  • Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson


I'm still only about 1/3 into Sons and Soldiers but I hope to focus on finishing that, this week. The Birds of Opulence is the September selection for author Wiley Cash's new online book group. I can't recall the name of the book group but you can find out about it by going to Wiley's website or following him on Facebook, if you're interested. So far, the book is excellent. So is Sons and Soldiers. It's just one of those nonfiction titles that's taking me longer to read because I need breaks from it. Even when it isn't stated, you know many of the family members left behind in Germany by the Jewish boys who escaped must have been killed, so it's emotionally exhausting. But, it's also very well written and yet another perspective on WWII that I've never read about, so I'm enjoying the learning process, even if I find the story somewhat painful.


Posts since last Malarkey:




Not a big week because I was tired after having visitors (and I missed them after they left).


In other news:

No shiny new things to report. No movies, just a little of the same old things we've been gradually watching. We're on Season 2 of 800 Words and Torchwood, Season 4 of Doc Martin, I think. How was your week?


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fiona Friday - If it fits . . .

. . . I sits.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech


In Saving Winslow, Louie loves animals but he hasn't had the best of luck keeping them alive. Now, his father has brought home a premature newborn miniature donkey. He's brought the donkey home to keep it comfortable till it dies. But, Louie is determined to make sure the donkey survives. Louie names the donkey Winslow and then sets to work feeding him, keeping him warm, and letting him know he's safe. Louie won't let anyone around him say anything negative about Winslow's chances.

As Winslow grows bigger and stronger, his chances also grow. But, he's still fragile. Louie was born prematurely, himself, so he knows a tiny newborn can survive. Will Louie be able to keep little Winslow alive long enough to get past the dangerous newborn stage?

Highly recommended - I love Sharon Creech's writing but Saving Winslow is something special. I love the way Creech connects Winslow's premature birth to Louie's, the way Louie keeps faith in spite of relentless negativity (everyone wants Louie to be prepared, in case Winslow dies), and the way Louie's confidence begins to rub off on everyone around him until even the biggest skeptics want a part in help caring for Winslow. There is one neighbor who can't bear Winslow's squawking but eventually an event occurs that brings the neighbors together and enables them to understand each other. There's also a sweet friendship with a little girl and tender affection for Louie's big brother, who is in the military and sorely missed. A lovely, touching, uplifting story for middle-grade elementary readers.

Saving Winslow is scheduled for release on September 18, 2018.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday Twaddle


At least one of these kitties is sad about the fact that our granddaughter just left for the airport. The other is probably happy to emerge from her hiding space, after several days (Isabel). Fiona was captivated by our little munchkin and followed her everywhere.

No books arrived, this week. Not one. So, no "recent arrivals" column.


Books finished since last week's Malarkey:


  • I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan
  • Never Too Young by Aileen Wientraub and Laura Horton


Currently reading:


  • Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson
  • When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer


I decided I'd waited too long between readings, so I restarted Sons and Soldiers and am around 94 pages in. Enjoying it just as much as I did the first time I started it and I'm looking forward to some quiet reading time, after a few days of chaos and very little reading.

When Elephants Fly is YA about an 18-year-old whose family has a history of schizophrenia. Lily's working on keeping her life calm, trying to avoid becoming schizophrenic, as well. But, as an intern at the local newspaper, she's become involved in events at the local zoo. A baby elephant has been born and been rejected by her mother, who tried to kill her. Lily can relate because her mentally ill mother tried to throw her off a roof (thinking she would fly). What will happen to baby elephant Swift Jones? Can Lily stay calm and sane until the 12-year time period in which diagnosis is most likely to occur ends?


Posts since last Malarkey:




Last week was Children's Week, so all of the reviews were reviews of children's picture books. I had all my posting finished by the time our visitors arrived and they got to indulge in a pile of freshly reviewed books at bedtime. I didn't ask about all of the titles they read but I found out I was correct in predicting that How to Feed Your Parents would be a giggle-inducing hit.

No other news, today. I'm sort of exhausted from having an indefatigable 3-going-on-4-year-old around, so I'm too sluggish to even remember if we watched any movies. I don't think we did! One episode of Endeavor is all I can recall. We did a lot of coloring and playing with toys, plunking on the piano, clicking on the typewriter, and chatting with cats. There may have been a wee bit of bouncing on the bed, as well. Pray for my recovery. :)

Happy Tuesday!

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Fiona Friday - Approval rating

 New guest room rug is Izzy and Fiona Approved.



©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller and Hatem Aly (Children's Week #9)


The list of things Mr. and Mrs. Macaroni would eat was very short [. . . ]  
They refused to even try anything else. 

Matilda Macaroni, the child in How to Feed Your Parents, likes a variety of foods and she wants to try quiche, but her parents are not interested. In fact, they're extremely picky. They only eat chicken nuggets, elbow macaroni mixed with orange powder, burgers from kids' meals, grilled cheese sandwiches, pepperoni pizza, and sugary cereal that turns the milk a different color. You can see where this is going. Author Ryan Miller has turned the concept of the picky eater on its head. Instead of the child being a picky eater, it's the parents who eat a limited range of foods and refuse to try anything new.

Matilda discovered her love of other foods when Grandma Macaroni brought over a pot of jambalaya.

"Yuck!" Matilda's dad said when he saw the pot. 
"No way!" Matilda's mom said when she smelled the steam. 
They pushed their plates to the center of the table and sulked. 

Matilda began to try more new foods: gumbo, goulash, sushi, pork paprikash. She had to learn to cook for herself, since her parents kept their menu strictly limited. She learned to crack eggs, first. Then, she learned oven and knife safety and read cookbooks at bedtime. She bought ingredients at the farmer's market. But, how would she convince her parents to try the new things she'd learned to cook?

Matilda convinces her parents to let them cook burgers. Then, she tells them they can eat what she's cooked or go hungry. Her parents are grossed out by the mushrooms and green stuff, but they're also impressed that Matilda cooked, so they agree to try their burgers and decide they're not so bad. Maybe Matilda can cook quiche, next? Instead, her parents ask if they can help with the cooking.

Highly recommended - I love a story in which a concept is reversed and How to Feed Your Parents is perfect -- a child convincing her picky parents to eat new things. I'm certain it will get a few giggles, at first, and then become a favorite of many children. Mine would have loved it at picture book age and I think it's a hoot. The illustrations are great; the artist did a tremendous job of showing the horror on the faces of Matilda's parents when there's something they don't want to try and the excitement when they realized food is not such a horrible thing, after all. A delightful read and a new favorite.

This is my final entry for Children's Week. I've decided to save the books for older children and start working on reviewing those, mixed in with books for adults, next week.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López (Children's Week #8)


There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you. 

The Day You Begin is about being different, whether that means looking different, sounding different, or any other characteristic that leaves a child feeling alone in his or her uniqueness. It's about sensing that you're out of place, knowing that in the room you walked into or the classroom you're always in, something sets you apart. Maybe everyone in class went somewhere during summer vacation but you. Maybe you're the only person in your class who brings a packed lunch or whose lunch is unfamiliar to everyone else. Maybe you're not athletic and you're the last to be chosen for team sports.

In beautiful, gentle prose, author Jacqueline Woodson talks about being set apart but learning to embrace and share your own story, whatever that may be. And, the thought that maybe when you tell your story you will find something in common with someone else in the room.

This is the day you begin 

to find the places inside
your laughter and your lunches,
your books, your travel and your stories, 

where every new friend has something
 a little like you -- and something else 
so fabulously not quite like you
at all


Here's the final spread so you can see the vibrant illustrations in the final spread quoted above:


Highly recommended - A new favorite. I love everything about The Day You Begin. Beautiful prose, stunning illustrations, and a subject that absolutely everyone can relate to. It's a great way to get a head start explaining that there will be times a child feels totally out of place. Even now, I can relate to the subject matter in The Day You Begin and recall times in school that I felt like I was the odd duck in a room full of swans. Highly recommended for any and all children and libraries.


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney (Children's Week #7)


Deep in the gloomiest nook of the fridge,
past Veggie Valley and Rosemary Ridge,
meeting in secret behind Pickle Post, 
sat Lady Pancake beside Sir French Toast.

"Surely you've noticed a chill in the air,"
said Pancake, "I'm freezing! There's frost in my hair!"

Something has gone wrong in the fridge. Instead of chilling things to the usual temperature, everything is getting frosty and frozen, like the fridge temperature has been turned to freezer level. What's going on? Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are mulling the problem when a detective (who also happens to be a spear of asparagus) shows up. They head toward the freezer to figure out the problem, but then the detective suddenly disappears. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast need help. So, they turn to their rival, Baron von Waffle. Waffle knows the freezer well and can keep them from becoming lost.

The trio makes its way to the heart of the freezer, but Pancake and French Toast are seized by a bunch of popsicles and shackled with curly fry chains. They're taken to see the empress, who tells them her story of horror and revenge. But, then Baron von Waffle swoops in to save the day. The empress is impressed by the touching scene of friendship and agrees to unfreeze the fridge. All return to the fridge, heroes who have saved the day.

Highly recommended - I love this entire series. It's cute, silly, adventurous, and I love, love, love the illustrations, in which fridge and freezer contents are made to look like landscapes. There's always a fold-out illustration, as well, so careful to save this one for children who are past the page-tearing stage (click on image to enlarge).



My reviews of the first two in the series:

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Funk and Kearney 
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The Case of the Stinky Stench by Funk and Kearney

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Look at Me! Wild Animal Show-Offs by Jim Arnosky (Children's Week #6)



I've read several of Jim Arnosky's and they never fail to take my breath away. In Look at Me! Wild Animal Show-Offs, Arnosky takes on the concept of displaying: spreading skin, making noise, inflating body parts, growing large antlers, showing plumage, using color. All are described and shown in Arnosky's typical, vivid paintings with the occasional series of sketches.

There are regular spreads and fold-outs that are so magnificent it's best to just show one.



I had a close-up of the left-hand part of that image but Blogger is having a fit and refusing to let me load it. You should be able to click on the image to enlarge.

Highly recommended - Informative and jawdroppingly gorgeous. I love Jim Arnosky's nature books but I think Look at Me! may have just become my all-time favorite, although they all end up on my favorites list. I am crazy about Jim Arnosky's eye-popping illustrations and highly recommend any or all of his nature books for home or library.

More by Jim Arnosky:

Frozen Wild by Jim Arnosky
Tooth and Claw by Jim Arnosky
Man Gave Names to All the Animals by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Jim Arnosky


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Business Pig by Andrea Zuill (Children's Week #5)


It was apparent from the moment the piglets arrived. Jasper was an unusual pig.

He hated playing in the mud.
And he refused to root for grubs,
acorns, and other tasty things
the way the other pigs did. 

Jasper was loved but he felt out of place. So, the volunteers at the sanctuary where Jasper lived created a place of his own where he could help with the bookkeeping. He held meetings and tried to show his flow charts to the chickens (they weren't interested). The goat ate his business card and nobody was interested in adopting him, no matter how many charts he offered or resumés he handed out. But, Jasper had a great attitude and formulated a plan. He came up with all sorts of clever ways to advertise his availability for adoption.

Then, one day he had a visitor, a little girl who studied his charts, exchanged business cards with him, and read his resumé thoroughly. I love this part:

Luckily, upper management was also impressed with Jasper's credentials.

"Upper management" is the little girl's mom. And, with the making of an offer and signing of a contract, it was a done deal. Jasper had a home.

Recommended - A cute, clever book about being different but working with your uniqueness to find a way to your goal. Business Pig is the third book I've read that's both written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill. I was surprised at how very different the illustrations were, in this one. The first two I read were both color on a pure white background. Business Pig is full color, with bright barns and fencing, brown dirt, greenery, a beautiful blue sky. It just works. The little girl who adopts Jasper has the same quirky business-like look. She wears a salmon suit, carries a briefcase, and wears glasses. Nice way to show that you may be quirky but that doesn't mean you're alone.

Other books I've reviewed by Andrea Zuill:

Marigold and Daisy by Andrea Zuill
Dance is for Everyone by Andrea Zuill


©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Allie All Along by Sarah Lynne Reul (Children's Week #4)


SNAP! 
Allie's crayon broke. 
I blinked. 
She was suddenly . . . 
furious,
fuming,
frustrated, and so, so sooo 
ANGRY!

When Allie's crayon breaks, she is so angry that she behaves monstrously. In Allie All Along, she's shown as a big red metaphorical monster. Her brother has ideas to help her get over her tantrum, though. First, he gives her a pillow to punch. It helps a bit. The red monster becomes a yellow one, showing that she's a little less angry. He gives Allie her favorite toy to squeeze and that helps a little, too. Now, she's just a green monster.

Step by step, Allie's temper dims as her brother uses calming techniques on her. She becomes less angry until she's just slightly upset and a little sad. And, then a hug is enough to help her forget her anger completely. The monster is gone and it's just Allie showing, now.

Recommended - I'm so far beyond the days of having a small child that I had to think back to remember temper tantrums and then I recalled one doozy that happened while my eldest son and I were shopping. There wasn't a pillow to punch or a toy to squeeze. There won't always be, of course. But, talking about temper tantrums and reading about ideas to manage a little one's anger when they're not angry, or reading to help them calm down, seems like an awfully good idea to me. Even adults don't always understand their own emotions and Allie All Along tells a child, "You're okay. Even when you're unhappy and become a bit of a monster, the real you is in there, just trying to figure out how to cope." And, maybe it will give a few parents ideas for dealing with tantrums.

I also recommend:

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas (page down at the linked site to read my review)

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.