Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Going Underground - Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

Clayton Byrd just lost his grandfather, a blues musician/"magician".  Clayton's Mama, Ms. Byrd, just lost her father, a man who was never around for her.  Grief is a funny thing.  Ms. Byrd wants to clear her home of Cool Papa's influence.  The Blues were never good to her and her mother.  Clayton wants to hold tight to the best friend he ever had.

When Ms. Byrd takes away Clayton's blues harp, he fights back.  He skips school and heads out for the park where his grandfather and his friends played.  On the subway, he meets beatbox street - or it is train? - performers and is bullied into joining them.  Things only go down, down, down from there.

Clay is lucky to have a father (Mr. Miller) who wants, more than anything, to be present for his son.  Throughout the book, Mr. Miller tries to support his family even though Clay's mother wants ultimate control.

Let me tell you, I cringed at Ms. Byrd's attempts to get Clayton to stop falling asleep in school, or playing his harmonica by using punishments.  Any Mom you know ever do that kind of thing?  This one did.  And that control thing?  GUILTY AS CHARGED!!! 

So, though this book is written for kids, maybe it could be handed to control freak Moms on occasion.

Kids won't get that.  They will feel Ms. Byrd's unfairness.  They will understand that Clayton just can't explain what's going on inside him. 

Clay's adventure gone wrong will appeal to young readers, too.  So many of us got to "act out" and "break free" just by reading about others who could.

Here is another book about grieving, loss, and recovery from that pain.  The world is never the same again.  It's also a coming of age-ish story.  Good thing Clay has parents who love him and can change just a little when it's important.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Secret Agents of Good

Remember when we did that benefit concert for Puerto Rico?  I was a tad distracted back then but in a wonderful way.  I want to feel that way again - like I can make a difference - like I can do good.  Just like Little Blue Bunny's Secret Agents of Good initiative, I want to do good, secretly?   Well, maybe not so secretly.

But there are so many problems, so many areas of worry and concern, that I can't decide exactly what to do.  Please help.

Take the survey in the link below.  Let me know what YOU think is the next step to take.  Please.  Thank you.

Click here for the survey.   By the way, I just changed this survey so that you can answer it more than once.   That way, you can vote for more than one project.

Thanks, again.

Friday, February 9, 2018

LBB Reports - Snails Are Just My Speed

Little Blue Bunny here with another timely book report.

I like Kevin McCloskey because he wears an awesome hat. His hair and beard are white and Claus-y.  AND he writes and illustrates very interesting books about weird animals - like pigeons, fish, worms and SNAILS. (Also flamingos.)

Snails are fun to draw.  Snails are slugs with shells.  (Ha! Ha!  A snail asked a slug if the slug was running away from home!  Hahahaha! Slug humor is the best!)

Snails have LOTS of slippery slimy disgusting MUCUS! 

And snails are so slow that even WORMS move faster than snails.  In this book, we find out that slowness is not always so bad.  If I tell you any more about snails, you won't read the book.  That would be very bad - because the pictures are pretty great.

Nana got this book, Snails are Just My Speed, along with La Matadragones: Cuentas de Latinoamerica AND The Dragon Slayer: Folktales of Latin America, both by Jaime Hernandez - same book, different languages - from MY FAVORITE publisher TOON Books.   Then, she gave Snails Are Just My Speed to D.  D gets everything (grumble).

But I read it first, before Nana, before D - and before You! Mwhahahahahaha! 

Little Blue Bunny, signing off.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In Tears

D told me, "It's just a book, Nana", when I mentioned that the book worried me.  It's the second book in the series and I don't like what the adventure is doing to one of the main characters.

Since he is the teenage form of a character created over 100 years ago, there is really no other direction in which he can go.  Still...

Ridley Pearson's "The Downward Spiral" left me with tears in my eyes.  The story of the Moriarty siblings, James and Moria, and James' odd roommate, Sherlock, is in no way over.  The end of this book leaves us with more questions than the book answers.  Good.  I need to read more of Moria's story.  At 12, Moria has lived through more drama, danger and desperation than most Senior Citizens - and all in one year.

In the first book, (I reviewed it rather lightly here), we suspect that the Moriarty family is involved in less than polite activities - especially when a tragedy reduces their numbers.  We see James being led down the narrow, gloom ridden secret passage to the family "business".  Read the book.

Back at Baskerville Academy, James is given "missions", more like "orders", by adults in high places.
Moria and Sherlock find a download of the family Bible and discover a portrait that could answer a lot of questions.

On Beacon Hill, the teens find a secret compartment in Moriarty the elder's desk with more cryptic Biblical quotes.  And eventually they find a secret room.

There is an attempted jewel heist; an almost tragic winter sailing outing; beatings, kidnaps and unfortunate "accidents".  At the center of it all is James.

Too proud to ask forgiveness for the mistakes he makes, too stiff-necked to make light of his frailties, James dooms himself to a future of evil doing.  OK.  I can put up with that.  He's a teenager.  How many of us learned to take ourselves less seriously when we were 14?  Also, he's predestined to be a bad guy.  Arthur Conan Doyle hath made it so.

The way adults manipulate him angers me.  By the time they are done, he has more black marks against him.  His father would never have wanted this - or would he?

See what I mean by questions?

Moria tells the story.  And the tears that rose to my eyes as I closed the book?  I cannot tell if they are for Moria and her worry about her brother or for James and his narrowing choices.

Friday, February 2, 2018

State of the Bun-ion Address

When we are down to about 45 minutes left of our afternoon, D and I MUST find a way for Little Blue Bunny to - you know - get in trouble. (No, seriously, if I mention the imminence of her parents' arrival, she jumps up.  "Quick, Little Blue Bunny has to get in trouble.")

He was not cooperating.  I think that's because he was in the Christmas Room with his sisters and he was full of the Christmas spirit.
The Christmas Room. This is a picture from long ago.

Then, D discovered that the fuzz from the pompoms she cut up earlier in the afternoon made a perfect wig for Little Blue Bunny.  He looked like (Dumdum DUM!!!) the President.

We looked at each other and we knew!!  Little Blue Bunny was going to take over the White House.

 But first, he needed a disguise.  D got to work making him a black jacket-y thing.  I tried to make a bow tie but, really, has this President ever worn a bow tie? So I quit.  We created the scenario.

Little Blue bunny sat behind the desk in the Oval Office, (A box on the table), when the Pres came into the room, (played by Fiddle-Fi-Fee, a fiddler puppet, who also has reddish hair).  Pres/Fiddle thought LBB was the cutest WH pet ever.
I like this picture so much I put it in twice.

"And I know pets.  I know pets better than any president alive today.  Everyone tells me how well I understand pets.  And this bunny will make the GREATEST White House pet of all times."

He fell for LBB's plan, hook line and carrot.  LBB skipped - or hopped - out of the Oval Office and down the halls of the White House with Pres/Fiddle in hot pursuit.  Finally, LBB dodged into a closet (Ok, a kitchen cabinet.  Our house doesn't have many closets.) The Pres/Fiddle followed and LBB dodged him, slammed the door and locked Pres/Fiddle inside.

Heh heh heh heh heh! 

Little Blue Bunny was right on time to make the State of the Bunion Address to the assembly of Congress animals.  He had to stand on the jack-in-the-box for his podium.  But first, he marched into the room to the sounds of Snoopy playing Christmas music on the piano (an electronic music box that I haven't put away yet.)

Little Blue Bunny is not the greatest speaker so here are the important points of his speech.

Little Blue Bunny's State of the Bunion Address.

1.  The State of the Bunion is very painful.  It will be some time before America is back on its feet.

2.  It is time to get rid of the residents of this country who are violent, dishonest, unkind, lazy, selfish and wasteful  These residents MUST GO.

3.  So, beginning NOW, all humans will be deported from the Bunited States of America.  Here are the reasons:

a.  Bunnies are soft, cuddly, peace-loving creatures who never hurt anyone.
b.  People hurt or kill everyone - animals and people.  They lie, steal, cheat, destroy, poison, - they are just plain bad.
c.  ERGO, people must go and bunnies must stay.

Well, the assembled Congress animals LOVED his speech until one of the humans in the group - probably me but it might have been Gramps - said, "Did the president shrink?"

The Pres/Fiddle got out of the cabinet just in time for Mommy to show up and Little Blue Bunny to scamper out of the Capital and home to the dining room.

BTW, the Congress has decided not to deport all humans, until further investigation of Little Blue Bunny's charges. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Don't go into The Hazel Woods

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - a review.

Alice and her mother, Ella, receive word that Ella's mother, Althea Prosperpine, has died.   Until this note reached them, Ella and Alice found themselves beset with bad luck - fires, mold, weird messages written on walls.  They moved often and secretly, running, Alice thought, from her grandmother.

Althea Prosperpine was famous for writing one book, The Tales of the Hinterland.  Alice had only ever seen one copy of the book, owned by a red-haired man who took her for a ride when she was small.  The book of fairy tales had a rabid cult following - fans who hunted Ella and Alice down in hopes of reaching Althea. 

With Althea's death, Ella and Alice settled down.  Ella even married - a very rich man with a teenage daughter of his own.  It is here, in Manhattan that the story really begins.  Alice finds someone who has read the book, and who tells her the tales.  And the stories are dark, twisted and hopeless.

Then, Ella is kidnapped.  And characters from the book appear on city streets.  Alice will do anything and go anywhere to retrieve her mother - even to the Hazel Wood, Althea's estate.  This is the one place Ella told Alice never to go.

The first two thirds of the book read like a horror story.  Alice and Finch, the school mate who knows the stories, try to find Hazel Wood.  Finch recognizes the ghouls that appear in the city, and then later in upstate New York, from the book and tells their stories.  Despair deepens.

Alice is thrown into an alternate reality, a dream that may never end.  If you have those dreams, where you are chased and never get farther away, in which you turn corners and end up back where you started, dreams where everything is off kilter and you don't know why and your heart quickens and you step into something awful - if you have those dreams, think twice about reading this book.

However, if you love fairy tales, the light and the dark, if you are fascinated with how stories inform our concept of the world, well, turn on all the lights and keep reading.  Alice is on a journey of transformation and redemption and it's a wild ride.

Friday, January 26, 2018

LBB Reviews The Wizards of Once

Hi!  Little Blue Bunny here!

I'm not much of a reader.  Turning pages is not so easy when you are only 4 inches tall.  But, wow!
That kid, Xar, is AWESOME!!  He is totally my favorite kind of hero.  Who needs to think before acting?  I mean, that's so over-rated.  Xar just jumps right in.

Like me, he is in trouble ALL THE TIME. So, if I met him, I think we would hit it off.  Also, a lot of his friends are little sprites and they are small.  I am small. See?  We have so much in common.

Oh, wait.  The book is The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell.  Nana says I have to put that in.  Blah.
This crow is a big know-it-all!

So, anyway, Xar's dad is this awesomely powerful wizard and the wizards and magical people live on ONE side of the Badlands forest-y area.  But Xar doesn't have any magic yet and he's tired of waiting.

So, anyway, he goes into the foresty area to try and capture a WITCH - whoa!  This dude isn't afraid of anything - probably because he doesn't waste time thinking about conchy?  consy kenc - you know, what MIGHT happen if you do something.  NANA!  Help me out here.

Nana:  Consequences.

Those.  Yeah.  Well, Xar has an older brother.  Me, too.  Looter makes my older brother look like an old softie - which he is - which is fine - because Looter - BLEECCHH!  Mean and bossy!

Oh, back to the book.

SO, ANYWAY!  Xar meets up with this Warrior girl, Wish - and her softy bodyguard, Bodkins.  I forget why they were in the woods but they shouldn't have been there either.  Warriors HATE, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate times a lot, any kind of magic.  But Wish has "borrowed" the Queen's Witch killing sword which is magic and iron and that never happens  - magic and iron mixing, I mean - and Xar takes the sword and something really scary happens and then Xar sort of kidnaps Wish and Bodkin but the Warriors kidnap Xar's giant friend.... 

(Deep breath).  And there are explosions - a bunch of explosions - and trickiness and meanness and some bravery and courage, too.

I was a little worried that Xar would become boring and goody-goody.  YAY!!!! He didn't. 

Read the book.  The pictures are all scratchy and awesome, too.  I will read another book about Xar and Wish - because that girl has SKILLS! - when it comes out.