Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Book Whisperer Reads a New Take on an Old Favorite

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Troy Wilson, writer, and Ilaria Campana, illustrator, teamed up to create a new version of Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf. I have always loved the story of Little Red Riding Hood and even played Little Red Riding Hood in an elementary end-of-school-year play once upon a time. I still have the red hood attached to a cape along with the green apron I wore with it to prove it!

With the word reading in Little Red’s name, one might guess that reading and books will play an important part in the story.  That assumption would be entirely correct. Part of the fun of reading any book involves anticipation.

How many of us look at a title and start to speculate on the book’s contents? The cover art also has a great deal to do with our anticipation of the story as well. Just today, I was reading about some novels and the cover of one, which shall remain unidentified, was so creepy that I knew I would never the read the book. And last week for our library book club, one of my friends put a sticky note over part of the cover because she did not like the picture even though she did read the book.

The cover of Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf gives readers many clues. Books anchor two corners, upper left and lower right. The wolf is in the upper right corner behind a vine and Little Red Reading Hood’s basket is in the lower left corner. In the middle, we see Little Red Reading Hood wearing her hood and sitting cross-legged doing what? Reading a book, of course!

The back cover is equally intriguing. We see Little Red Reading Hood holding her basket and walking up the path to grandmother’s cottage. The mailbox, stuffed with letters, reads Grandma. Campana has made the woods prominent by drawing tall, slender trunks towering over the house.

Regardless of age, readers do anticipate contents from looking at the cover and the title. That’s part of the fun of reading the book too. Then once we have completed the book, we can think about how closely we imagined the story from the title and the cover or how far off the mark we might have been.

Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf follows along with the original story including Little Red Reading Hood making a treat for her grandmother who is ill and encountering a wolf in the woods as she walks to grandmother’s house. The wolf is even in grandmother’s bed.

However, the story deviates from the original Little Red Riding Hood all the way through as well.  Readers must discover for themselves what those differences are between Little Red Riding Hood and Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf. That discovery will be a pleasure to experience over and over as one reads alone and to others.

Troy Wilson has written seven books. Many of the adjectives used to describe Wilson’s books include fun, ridiculously entertaining, sensational, playful, and imaginative. See his other books and more about Wilson at this link: http://www.troystory.ca/. The item below is from Wilson’s Web site and gives a hint into his sense of humor.

Be sure to look up Ilaria Campana’s Web site too: http://astound.us/artists/ilaria-campana. Her artwork is astounding.

The Book Whisperer Writes a Rave Review of The Cactus

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Early in the pages of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood, readers come to a quick understanding of Susan Green, the narrator. She explains that “if it wasn’t for the fact that I have colleagues, office life would be bearable. … I had a catalog of annoyances and irritations with which to contend.” She goes on to describe a “stockier workmate” eats Chinese takeaway in the middle of the morning with the smell of the food wafting over the office. Then there’s Tom, who has food in his beard, and he “was to be the next source of irritation.”

Reviewers have compared Susan to Don Tillman in The Rosie Project. I immediately thought of Ove in a Man Called Ove. Susan has her precise routines and does not like to be interrupted. Son a weekly basis, Susan gives her Trudy, the team manager, lists of ways the office can be more efficient. For the most part, Trudy ignores Susan’s suggestions.

Susan shuts herself away from other people. She does her job and does it well. She does not take time off except when she must. She does not socialize with office mates or really with anyone else.

Several years ago, on an impulse, something she rarely acts upon, she answered a personal ad posted by a man who wanted a relationship for dinners and theater engagements with no entanglements. Susan thought that would be the perfect solution for her social activities. She answers the ad and she and Richard develop a routine of going to dinner and the theater and having sex—a sort of business arrangement rather than a love affair. In fact, Susan always pays her share of the outings.

Now at 45, Susan finds herself pregnant. It’s no spoiler to tell readers this news because they realize it quite early in the book. Upon her discovery, Susan breaks off with Richard because that had been their original agreement that either could break the ties at any time, no questions asked. However, Richard does come to Susan’s home and in a weak moment she tells him she is pregnant, but that she will not hold him responsible and will not ask him for anything for the child.

Other complications arise early in the story when Susan’s mother dies, leaving the family home to Susan’s wayward younger brother Edward while dividing money and other property equally between the two siblings. Readers gradually learn more about the Green family. Susan has always felt her mother favored Edward over her and that their father was indifferent to all of them because his interest lay in getting his next drink.

As with most siblings, Susan and Edward have quite different memories of their respective childhoods. When they compare notes, each comes away convinced that the other is wrong.

When Susan goes home for her mother’s funeral, she discovers Edward has already made a mess of the family home and that he has a very tall friend, Rob, living with him.  When Susan sees Rob for the first time upon entering the home, she thinks to herself “I couldn’t help noticing how ridiculously tall he was. Some people might find such height attractive, but as far as I’m concerned, anything over six feet is excessive and smacks of attention-seeking.”

Those thoughts give readers an idea of Susan’s decisive nature about height; readers can also recognize that her opinions will extend into many other areas just as decisively.

I found Susan to be snappy, often irritable, yet thoroughly likeable if one kept a distance! What can happen to cause Susan to loosen up a bit? Certainly, pregnancy is changing her, albeit slowly. She cannot control her body the way she used to do. She finds herself letting Kate, her upstairs neighbor who is a young mother, into her life more and more.  Eventually, too, Susan decides is it not fair to eliminate Richard from their child’s life as long as the two of them can agree on certain rules of civility such as governed their relationship previously.

Rob begins to figure more and more in Susan’s life and plans. She first accepts his help in removing some of her mother’s furniture and other items and storing them in a house Rob is renovating. Rob owns a large van which he uses in his landscaping business, so that van comes in handy for moving furniture. Ever practical, Susan reasons that she is receiving free storage for the items in Rob’s home.

Haywood’s prose is crisp. She has drawn Susan’s character well, allowing readers to see her as a fully-realized person. Readers become invested in Susan’s future and hope that she will be able to live comfortably with other people, especially since she is soon to be a mother.

Booklist calls The Cactus “a heartfelt and charming story of one woman’s transition from a solitary, orderly existence to a messy life full of love.” Book Riot uses similar language in describing The Cactus: “heartfelt and funny.”

Like her narrator, Sarah Haywood studied law. Unlike Susan, however, Haywood continues in her pursuit of a law degree and worked for a time as a solicitor. After completing an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, she began writing her novel. The Cactus is her first publication and she is working on her second. Discover more about Haywood at her Web site: https://sarahhaywoodauthor.co.uk/.

The Book Whisperer Enjoys The Sentence is Death

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Anthony Horowitz has an impressive body of work as a writer, TV script-writer, and TV show creator. He even stars in two of his recent books: The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death. In both of those books, Horwitz shadows former police detective and now PI Daniel Hawthorne as Hawthorne solves tricky murder cases, a’ la Sherlock Holmes. Hawthorne approached Horowitz to act as Watson, chronicling Hawthorne’s investigation and subsequent solving of the cases. Against his better judgment, Horowitz agreed to the arrangement and even signed a three-book deal, so readers must expect a third book in the Hawthorne series. Perhaps this one will have paragraph in the title since the first two have word and sentence as part of the titles.

Richard Pryce, a high-profile divorce lawyer is found murdered in his own posh home, bashed with an expensive bottle of wine and then cut with the broken bottle. The list of suspects grows as the investigation heats up. Anthony Horowitz tags along with PI Hawthorne whom the police have brought in to help with the case. Each time Horowitz believes he has made headway in figuring out the murderer, he finds himself back as square one.

Hawthorne does not share information willingly and allows Horowitz to think he has figured out a clue when he may be close but not completely on the right track. Add to this frustrating mix, DI Cara Grunshaw of the Metropolitan Police who is in charge of the investigation and eager to solve the murder before Hawthorne succeeds even though they are supposed to be working together toward the same end.

Horowitz describes DI Grunshaw’s hair as “real but it resembled one of those cheap wigs worn by department-store mannequins, jet black and as glossy as nylon. It didn’t seem to belong on her head.” He also says she is “mean and hostile.” And the name Grunshaw seems right out of Dickens, a name that suggests someone vile.

Can an incident from six years ago when Charles Richardson, a friend of Pryce’s, died in a cave exploration accident have something to do with Pryce’s death? Three friends, Richard Pryce, Gregory Taylor, and Charles Richardson, all friends from university days, would meet once a year to go on spelunking holidays. Six years ago, a sudden rainstorm caused the cave the three were in to flood and Charles drowned in the cave while Richard and Gregory managed to escape.

Pryce had just settled a divorce dispute between Adrian Lockwood, wealthy land developer and his wife Akira Anno, a well-known author. Anno had threatened Pryce in a restaurant when the two happened to meet unexpectedly. Anno felt she had been cheated in the divorce settlement. But would she kill Pryce after making a public threat in front of many people?

Gregory Taylor must be counted as a suspect too until he, too, is found dead. Is his death murder, suicide, or accident? Then Davina Richardson, Charles’ widow, has motive to kill both Pryce and Taylor, doesn’t she? After all, her husband goes into the cave with Pryce and Taylor, but he does not make it out alive, leaving her a widow with a young son. What about other suspects? The list grows.

Horowitz has great fun playing with language in The Sentence is Death. Akira Anno, for example, is an author who has written novels and recently published a book of haikus. During the investigation, Hawthorne and Horowitz ask Anno about Haiku 182:

“You breathe in my ear/ Your every word a trial / The sentence is death.”

Hawthorne and Horowitz take the poem too literally to mean that Anno wishes someone dead, possibly Pryce. She tells them that “you have not understood a single word I wrote.” She continues by saying, “The haiku was not about Richard Pryce. I wrote it before I knew of his existence. It’s about my marriage. It was written or Adrian Lockwood.” She goes on to explain “I have placed myself in a condemned cell [by marrying Adrian]. I use the word trial in two senses. It refers to my day-to-day suffering but also to the fact that I am legally his wife. And I am not sentencing him to death. In fact, it is exactly the other way around. I am the one who is dying, although the last line is of course a paraposdokian, with the double entendre in sentence.”

Horowitz is clearly having fun with the haiku and the language in that passage and others.

DI Cara Grunshaw has made it clear to Horowitz that he should report to her everything he learns when he is with Hawthorne. Horowtiz believes he has figured out who murdered Pryce and why. He lays out the story to Hawthorne who seems to agree with him and even tells Horowitz he can share his information with DI Grunshaw.

When Horowitz tells Grunshaw the whole story, she pretends she has known all along what Horowitz is saying. Then she promptly arrests a suspect, but is she correct?

When Horowitz sees Hawthorne after the newspapers report the arrest, the two of them meet with Davina Richardson one more time. Hawthorne tells Davina that Gregory Taylor had been to visit her shortly before his death. She responds, “You can’t know that.” Hawthorne replies with “when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbably, must be the truth.”

That last line sums up the investigation, for Hawthorne has, indeed, excluded the impossible and has deduced who murdered Richard Pryce and why. For you to learn who the murderer is, dear readers, you must read The Sentence is Death for yourself. And since Horowitz has signed a contract for three books about Hawthorne, we must look for the next one.

Discover more about Anthony Horowitz at his Web site: https://www.anthonyhorowitz.com/.

The Book Whisperer Examines Candy Bomber, a True Story

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Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael O. Tunnell tells US Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen’s story of delivering chocolates to the children of Berlin who were living under Russian rule after WWII. Candy Bomber is a true story and Tunnell has included many of Halvorsen’s original photographs.

Halvorsen also saved the letters and drawings from the children of Berlin and some of them are included in the Candy Bomber.

Halvorsen and his “buddies ended up dropping over twenty tons of candy and gum” over a period of fourteen months. To alert the children that he would be dropping candy, Halvorsen “wiggled my wings.”

Candy Bomber is a story of hope and kindness following a devastating war.

The Book Whisperer Reviews an Exciting J Detective Story

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I discovered Mac Barnett, https://www.macbarnett.com/, when I watched him deliver a TED Talk titled “Why a Good book is a Secret Door.” It is located at this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/mac_barnett_why_a_good_book_is_a_secret_door?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare.

After watching the TED Talk, I sought out several of Barnett’s books, specifically Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, a picture book, and now The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, a chapter book. Adam Rex illustrated both books.

Like many kids, I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when I was growing up; kids today still look for such mysteries. Steve Brixton, age 12, is no exception. He has read and reread all of the books in the Bailey Brothers Mysteries. The Bailey brothers, dark-haired Shawn and blond Kevin, solve mysteries. Even better, they have written The Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook which Steve has memorized; he has also acquired a Bailey Brothers’ detective license for which he paid “twelve cereal box tops plus $1.95 for shipping and handling.”

In Chapter II, “An Exciting Case,” Steve uses The Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook on “how to size up suspicious characters” to figure out his mom’s new boyfriend, Rick. The Bailey Brothers say that “there are really only three types of criminals, and once you’ve got their distinguishing features memorized, you’ll be an unstoppable crime-solving machine!” See below for the three types.

“Type 1: The Tough: greasy hair, scars on face, stubble, tattoos, loud necktie, cheap suit, poorly concealed knife or gun, and LIMP.”

“Type 2: The Ringleader: red hair (the Book Whisperer objects to this one), shifty eyes, uses gel or pomade, well-trimmed mustache, turtleneck, tall, slender build, mysterious pinkie ring, dressy trousers, and LIMP.”

“Type 3: The Hermit: long white hair, wrinkly, crazy gleam in eye, missing teeth, large beard, uses an anchor as a weapon, torn shorts, and LIMP.”

Readers will quickly notice that all three thug types limp, a telltale sign.

On Friday in social studies, Steve draws a terrible assignment: to write an 8-page report, due Monday, on early American needlework while his buddy Dana draws the topic that should have been Steve’s: detectives! And Ms. Gilfeather said, “Your essay should be at least eight pages long. No playing with fonts. No swapping topics. Cite your sources. Papers are due Monday.”

By the luck of the draw, literally, Steve is landed in the middle of a rollicking adventure in which he is mistaken for a treasonous and dangerous detective. The story spirals out of control from the moment Steve locates An Illustrated History of American Quilting by J.J. Beckley. Steve plans to use the book as a reference for his essay. However, as soon as he hands the book to Ms. Bundt, the librarian, so he can check it out, pandemonium breaks loose.

Steve and later his chum Dana find themselves hunted by a secret society of librarians, the police, dangerous thugs working for the mysterious Mr. E., and Steve’s mom and her boyfriend Rick, who is also a police officer.

Can anyone be trusted? Steve must rely on his wits and his memory of the advice found in The Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook. Luckily, he also has the book for reference in his backpack. But is the book helping him?

Barnett is an inventive writer and the constant action will keep readers turning pages. The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity takes readers on an amazing adventure of suspense and intrigue.

The Book Whisperer’s Thoughts on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot in late October in anticipation of discussing it in a book club on Nov 5. Unfortunately, because of unexpected emergency surgery, I did not attend the book club. Since then, I have been looking at the book, but I have been somehow reluctant to write my review.

Perhaps that stems from the fact that so much has been written about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks already. Still, the book sat on my desk nagging me to write my own review, so here are some thoughts on Skloot’s work.

The beginning of the book intrigued me in that Skloot had “failed freshman year at the regular public high school because she never showed up.” After transferring to an alternative school, Skloot also had the opportunity to take a biology class in community college. Donald Defler, the instructor, was teaching the class about mitosis, the process of cell division, when he wrote HENRIETTA LACKS on the board “in enormous print.” From this casual mention of Lacks’ name and that her “HeLa cells were one of the most important things that happened to medicine in the last hundred years,” Skloot began an investigation that ultimately culminated in her meeting Lacks’ family and writing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Skloot had to overcome a number of obstacles because her search for information about Lacks often yielded little to no information, but she kept digging until she uncovered more and more and finally after patiently introducing herself and re-introducing herself to Lacks’ family, discovered more information from the family itself.

Deborah, Henrietta’s daughter, said to Skloot, “How else to you explain why your science teacher knew her real name when everyone else called her Helen Lane? She was trying to get your attention.” Skloot holds onto to this notion that Henrietta wanted Skloot to discover as much as she could about Henrietta and the HeLa cells because it took years to find all the information she needed.

Part of that time, Skloot had to win Lacks’ family’s trust because others had misled the family many times over. Skloot had to prove again and again that she wanted to tell the whole story of Henrietta and not exploit her or her family.

Henrietta’s cells “helped launch the fledgling field of virology.” Henrietta’s cells not only lived, but they also reproduced in prodigious numbers when many, many other cells had simply died in the laboratory. For the first time, scientists and researchers across the world could work with the “same cells, growing in the same media, using the same equipment, all of which they could buy and have delivered to their labs.”

The HeLa cells grew from “a sliver of her tumor, which was a cluster of cells.” They continue to grow in laboratories today and are sold through The American Type Culture Collection, “a nonprofit whose funds go mainly toward maintaining and providing pure cultures for science.” The nonprofit has been selling HeLa cells since the sixties.

At Rebeccaskloot.com, readers will find a wealth of material about Lacks.

Teachers will find useful resources at this site: http://rebeccaskloot.com/the-immortal-life/teaching/.

Find the movie preview and a number of other articles related to Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cells and research at this location: https://henriettalackshbo.com/about/index.html.

The Book Whisperer Reviews a Touching Story of WWI

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I read about all sorts of books and I should try to keep track of where I read about a book when I request it from the library, but that would involve a system and discipline. Instead, I simply put in the request and wait for the book to arrive at my branch. Recently, I read an article about a variety of children’s books, picture books and juvenile titles. One of those books was Captain Rosalie by Timothee de Fombelle, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, and translated into English by Sam Gordon.

De Fombelle has written several novels for young adults as well as plays, even designing and building his own sets for the dramas.  Critics describe de Fombelle’s writing as “powerful, exciting, unusual, and beautiful.”

Margaret Kennelly, writing for School Library Journal, says, “Readers are quickly drawn into the world Rosalie describes through first-person perspective.” Kennelly goes on to praise Captain Rosalie as “a great hi-lo reader to introduce the destructive aftermath of WWI and to learn how to deal with loss.”

Isabelle Arsenault’s elegant drawings enhance de Fombelle’s text. She uses mostly shades of gray with splashes of color, especially for Rosalie’s red hair.

While Rosalie’s father is away fighting in WWI, Rosalie and her mother live simply in a two-room house. Rosalie’s mom works in a factory, so she takes Rosalie to the nearby school where Rosalie waits for the teacher to arrive. Rosalie’s mother has arranged with the teacher to allow Rosalie to sit in the back of the room while the older children have their classes.

Rosalie tells readers on page one that “I have a secret. The others think I’m drawing in my notebook when I’m sitting on the little bench underneath the coat hooks at the back of the classroom.” Then she explains her secret: “I am spying on the enemy. I am preparing my plan. I am Captain Rosalie.”

Though she is disguised as a five-year-old girl, Rosalie has a mission and knows she will receive a medal for her accomplishments. She keeps quiet and tells no one of her mission. She knows that she must work in secret.

Timothee de Fombelle has created a moving story of a little girl and her mother waiting for news from a soldier father and husband. The war creates surprising heroes and puts Rosalie on a mission of secrecy. Captain Rosalie is a touching story, not just for K-grade three readers, but for all readers. Isabelle Arsenault’s drawing add another depth to the story.

The Book Whisperer Reviews an ARC

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I first read Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. The engaging story line and strong characters in that book made me look for others by Krueger. This Tender Land, which will be published in September 2019, provides readers with an exceptional story. The characters are strong and resourceful. Albert and Odie must endure terrible hardships at Lincoln School along with the other Native American children kept there. Mrs. Brickman, “the Black Witch,” rules with an iron fist. She is all smiles and charm as she asks for money from patrons, but she treats the children shamefully. The most horrific thing to me is the abuse the children must endure. This Tender Land takes Mose, Albert, Odie, and Emmy on a river trip as they escape Lincoln School. They encounter other unscrupulous people, but they also run into some kind folks too. Their journey in a quest for freedom is well worth reading.

Learn more about William Kent Krueger and his many books at his Web site: http://www.williamkentkrueger.com/.

The Book Whisperer Enjoys A Romp with Noir

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Having just finished Christopher Moore’s Noir, my assessment is quite easy: What a romp! Moore begins Noir with this Author’s Note: “This story is set in 1947 America. The language and attitudes of the narrators and characters regarding race, culture, and gender are contemporary to that time and may be disturbing to some. Characters and events are fictional.”

Other reviews use words like absurd, outrageous, satiric, and entertaining in describing Noir. I would agree with all of those and add funny, bizarre, spooky, improbable, and totally amusing.

The story opens with a snake, a very dangerous, poisonous snake: an African black mamba. Now, readers will have to discover why the snake had been in the back room of Sal’s Saloon in San Francisco in a crate marked “DANGER! LIVE REPTILE!”

Readers learn on the first page that Sal is dead, lying on the floor by the opened crate, the black mamba nowhere in sight. Sammy, the night bartender opens the back door on this grim scene. The story then works both backward and forward from Sal’s death.

Moore has chosen to write Noir in the hardboiled genre with the noir twist. In a noir story, “the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator.” Sammy, the night bartender, fits all of these characteristics at one time or another in Noir: victim, suspect, and perpetrator. He is also a hero.

At this point, dear readers, I am sure you are wondering how one character can exhibit all these facets. The answer is easy: through Moore’s careful depiction of Sammy and the other characters in the story as well.

The story becomes more and more complicated by Moore’s introduction of Stilton, “like the cheese,” who is a blonde bombshell. Sammy describes Stilton’s entrance into the bar. He explains Stilton has “the kind of legs that kept her butt from resting on her shoes—a size-eight dame in a size-six dress and every mug in the joint was rooting for the two sizes to make a break for it as they watched her wiggle in the door and shimmy onto a barstool with her back to the door.”

Moore has perfected the language of the time such as that found in Dashiell Hammett’s and Raymond Chandler’s stories. Readers can just hear Humphrey Bogart speaking Sammy’s lines. Sammy’s first question to the dame is “What can I get you, Toots?”

The two brief excerpts below should be enough to entice readers into locating Noir so they can read it for themselves:

The Washington Post review certainly should interest readers: “Christopher Moore gives us dizzy dames and shadowy gangsters in Noir. Sammy, Moore’s comic revision of Sam Spade, will take you on a silly-thrilly ride through late-1940s San Francisco, and you’ll be laughing all the way.”

The Washington Independent Review of Books provides even more temptation for readers: “Moore is a master of metaphor and a sultan of simile.… It takes an author of remarkable talents to keep a profitably urinating snake, a dame named for a dairy product, and a slimy extraterrestrial all running through a narrative.”

One of my favorite characters is the horrible kid who lives in Sammy’s apartment building. He gives Mrs. Malaprop a run for her money. Sammy actually likes the horrible kid and keeps food for him since the kid’s mother apparently has little time for him. Sammy also gives the kid money for waking Sammy up and for getting items from the grocery store. At one point, the kid calls Sammy “ya macaroon.” Sammy tells him that “a macaroon is a cookie, kid.” The kid immediately replies, “No, it ain’t. You’re a dirty liar.”

Another favorite is Thelonious, Lonius or Lone, who is a very large Black man who wants to be in the secret service so he can protect FDR. The story takes place in 1947, but no one who likes Lone has the heart to tell him FDR is dead. Lone tells everyone that “a black man can’t be in the secret service, so I am undercover.”

This list of characters could go on and on, but readers will do best by reading the book and discovering all of them on their own. The plot truly thickens as the story reveals CIA operatives, a cross-dressing group of businessmen, dangerous hit-men, and, of all things, an alien.

Noir will make readers laugh out loud. The situations are outrageous, yet readers can’t keep themselves from continuing to read to see what happens next. And the narrator will knock readers out!

Christopher Moore maintains an engaging Web site: https://www.chrismoore.com/.

The Book Whisperer Reviews a Book by Mac Barnett

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I took children’s literature in the library science department at LA Tech U and then had an opportunity to teach children’s literature at MO State U in Springfield. At MO State, children’s literature was in the English Department. I continue to enjoy reading books for all ages. I had the privilege of attending a writing workshop with Crescent Dragonwagon several years ago. The title of the workshop was “Writing for Children.” Dragonwagon opened the workshop by stating, “Good writing is good writing regardless of the target audience.”

Check out Dragonwagon’s Web site: http://dragonwagon.com/. You will find much to read and enjoy there.

What brought me to this blog, however, is Mac Barnett. I watched a TED Talk by another author and the next TED Talk was by Mac Barnett: “Why a Good book is a Secret Door.” Who could pass up learning about why a good book is a secret door? I already knew my answer to that, but I certainly was interested in Mac Barnett’s assessment too.

That TED Talk, https://www.ted.com/talks/mac_barnett_why_a_good_book_is_a_secret_door?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare, is worth sharing!

Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, the TED Talk kept me on yet another trail—the trail to Mac Barnett’s books. Out of the 40 books by Barnett, I chose Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem, illustrated by Adam Rex.

Billy Twitters’ mom says, “Billy Twitters, clean up your room, or we’re buying you a blue whale.” She makes this threat when she tells Billy to eat his peas or to brush his teeth too, so, obviously, she means business.

The pictures accompanying the text are delightful. For example, we see the FEDUP delivery man studying his tablet and the FEDUP delivery truck has this inscription on the side: Delivering Punishment WorldwideTM.”

It is not a spoiler to say that Billy has not followed his mother’s instructions, or we would have no story. Indeed, a blue whale is delivered to Billy’s doorstep and Billy must care for it. Believe me, caring for a blue whale is no easy task either as Billy knows beforehand.

Children and adults will have great fun reading Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem. Adam Rex has created additional fun for readers with his illustrations. Find out more about Rex and his work at his Web site: https://www.adamrex.com/.

Adam Rex