Posts Tagged ‘cheesy fun’

Last Sunday the lovely and wonderful Andi at Estella’s Revenge tagged me in an ongoing game of book blogger tag.  Since this was the LONGEST WEEK IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, I am only just now posting my responses to her questions.  (FYI: I was much better at real tag when I was a kid.  I was totally that person who “rescued” all the frozen people in freeze tag.)

Anyway . . . the rules:

1.  You must post the rules.
2.  Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the  people you’ve tagged.
3.  Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4.  Let them know you’ve tagged them!


Andi’s questions:

1. Who would rank on your list of crushworthy authors–either for their skillz or their cutiepieness?

Once upon a time I had a running list of Men I Was Going to Marry. With the exception of Jon Stewart, everyone on the list was a children’s author or illustrator. Now that I’m older and more mature, I *totally* don’t have a list like that anymore, but if I did, this is who would be on it:

Mo Willems, Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, Dav Pilkey, Oliver Jeffers, Graeme Base, Neil Gaiman, John Green, Terry Pratchett, David Sedaris (yes, I know he’s gay), Lemony Snicket, Chris Raschka, Steve Jenkins, Jerry Pinkney, David Wiesner, and Ian Falconer.

Also book crushworthy: Isabel Allende, Louise Erdrich, Ursula K. LeGuin, Jane Austen, Susanna Clarke, Anne Fadiman, Sandra Boynton, Emily Gravett, Harper Lee, Ayelet Waldman, Alice Walker, Peggy Rathmann, Gail Carriger, Diana Wynne Jones, and Debi Gliori

. . . and many, many more.


2. What is your favorite guilty pleasure book if you have guilty pleasure reading?

I maybe sometimes occasionally read a romance novel.


3. Which literary female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Tiffany Aching. Why? Dude, she smacks a monster on the head with a frying pan. In the first chapter.


4. Which television female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Brenda Leigh Johnson from The Closer. Because she is awesome.


5. If you found out you were preggers (stop hyperventilating) OR if you were buying for a friend or family member, which children’s book would you consider a MUST HAVE for beginning a child’s library?

You HAD to write BOOK instead of BOOKS. Fine. The must-have book for a new kiddo’s library . . . this is really, really hard, by the way . . . is Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. It is a shining example of why I love picture books. The text is sparse yet effective, and the illustrations reveal something new every time you read the book. Plus, in addition to featuring your standard zoo animals (gorilla, lion, giraffe, etc), it also has an armadillo in it. And who doesn’t love armadillos?


6. Do you have a favorite independent or small press? Why do they rock?

The only time I pay attention to who published a book is when I’m a) writing a works cited page or b) writing a review here (because for some reason I feel compelled to include the publishing info; too many years of writing essays, I suppose). So no, I don’t have a favorite independent or small press. I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. (Not that I don’t support independent publishers! Go, independent publishers!)


7. Have you read any independent or undersung books lately? Something that’s been flying under the bloggy radar?

No one here reads the Dear Dumb Diary books by Jim Benton. What is wrong with you people???


8. What’s on repeat on your MP3 player? (Selfish, I need new music.)

I just discovered Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep” a few weeks ago, (no, I do not live under a rock), so for a while there that was on repeat all the time. Now I’m just listening to whatever comes on.


9. If you would be any pair of shoes, what would they be (feel free to refer to Pinterest or Google Image Search)?

Flip flops. Plain black ones.


10. If you won a million dollars, what would you do first?

This is a boring answer, but I would pay off all my student loans and credit cards. And then do a happy dance.


11. Adult beverage of choice?

Cherry coke and coconut rum. YUM.


I’m tagging:

Molly at bookhopping

Chandra at Chandra Universe

Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Nicki at Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Jennifer at The Literate Housewife

Amy at Amy Reads

Aths at Reading on a Rainy Day

nomadreader at nomadreader


And their questions are . . .

1. Speaking of tag . . . what was your favorite playground game as a child?

2. Do you reread books? Why or why not?

3. What unread book has been sitting on your shelf the longest? Why haven’t you read it yet?

4. What’s your favorite place to get books? Second favorite?

5. Name one book from your pre-blogging days you’d like to review.

6. What literary character would you like to take out to coffee?

7. What book has surprised you recently? (you liked/disliked it more than you expected, it had unexpectedly plot twist, etc.)

8. Share one random fact about yourself we don’t know.

9. What’s your favorite odd food combination?

10. When you were a kid, you wanted to grow up and be a ____________.

11. Pancakes or waffles?


If anyone else wants to answer the questions, go for it!  I am particularly interested in your answer to #11 🙂  Thanks, Andi, for tagging me!

Read Full Post »

by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance*
Candlewick Press, 2011**
Source: public library
You know that game where one person starts a story and the next person continues it, and then the person after that picks up where they left off, and on and on until everyone has contributed to the story?  The end result is nearly always a fantastical and ridiculous tale filled with a plethora of cliffhangers, neatly resolved conflicts and absurd characters.  They are not stories destined to win any great literary awards; rather, they are stories told for the sheer enjoyment of it.
That, my friend, is The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.
Over the course of a year, twenty authors and illustrators played this very game.  They took turns writing and/or illustrating episodes of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, building on the episodes told by the previous authors and adding new twists and turns of their own.  The story begins with a train, a ticking clock, a bundle of dynamite, a mysterious birthday card, and twins named Nancy and Joe.  In the first episode, author Jon Scieszka cautions the reader:

. . . there is a good chance that you and Nancy and Joe will have to deal with werewolves and mad scientists, real ninjas and fake vampires, one roller-skating baby, a talking pig, creatures from another planet (possibly another dimension), killer poetry, clues from classic children’s books, two easy riddles, several bad knock-knock jokes, plenty of explosions, a monkey disguised as a pirate, two meatballs, a blue plastic Star Wars lunch box (missing its matching thermos), a ticking clock, and not just one bad guy but a whole army of villains, cads, scalawags, sneaks, rats, varmints, and swindlers.  Also several desperados, a gang of evildoers, and one just plain bad egg.  (4-5)

The reader does, in fact, encounter all of this . . . and so much more.  (The story is only 269 pages, by the way.)  Poor Nancy and Joe get ricocheted all over the place, enduring one bizarre plot twist after another.  My favorite moment in the story occurs in Episode  Twelve, “The Shadowy Abyss of Our Own Fates,” written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering:
Having escaped yet another villain, Nancy and Joe are trying to decide what their next move should be.  Joe wonders, “Why are all these villains conspiring against us?” 
Nancy answers, “I’m beginning to think that there’s no reason for all this treachery . . . Think of how far we’ve traveled since that night on the train, and yet our journey is as confusing and mysterious as it ever was.  It’s as if our lives are being written not by a single, beneficent author, but by a whole team of authors pushing the story every which way, the way an Exquisite Corpse is built from whatever scraps are found.”  (89)
Oh, Nancy.  You have no idea.
The story is confusing.  And ludicrous and nonsensical.  But it is also a great deal of fun, and that in itself is a valuable thing.  The Exquisite Corpse was created by a troupe of authors and illustrators for the absolute joy of it, and that is as worthy a reason to create – and read – as any other.
Did you write a review?  Let me know and I’ll make a list!
*Or, more accurately, by M. T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate DiCamillo, Timothy Basil Ering, Jack Gantos, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia McKissack, Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Dusen.

**Initially published over the course of a year (2009-2010) on the Library of Congress’s website,

Read Full Post »

by Gail Carriger
Orbit, 2009
Source: e-book purchased from Barnes & Noble
Pre-Twilight mania (yes, folks, we did live in a Twilight-free world once; ahhh, those were the days) I viewed the vampire genre with polite disinterest.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of vampires I’d ever had any interest in: two – the Count from Sesame Street (who doesn’t love the Count??) and Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit from James Howe’s hilarious books.  (Because, you see, I am powerless in the face of titles like The Celery Stalks at Midnight.  Get it?  Get it?  Celery stalks??  Bwahahahahaha!)  Anyway.
But it is a post-Twilight world we live in now and times have changed.  Now whenever I see or hear anything even remotely vampire-related instead of feeling polite disinterest I want to poke myself in the eye.  A little drastic, I know, but seriously.  I realize I’m in the minority here, but the madness has to stop.
But.  I have found an exception to the rule.  Not only did Soulless not make me want to poke myself in the eye, it’s even brought my list of favorite vampires up to the three: Lord Akeldama, a very flamboyant vampire who speaks in italics constantly and who, underneath the flamboyance and italics, seems to need a hug.  Which I would totally give him, except, well, he’s fictional.  And a vampire.  A nice vampire, yes, but still.  Those sharp teeth make me a little nervous.
I came to Soulless entirely by accident.  I spent the last couple of weeks bouncing from blog to blog reading post submissions for BBAW, and in the course of this bouncing stumbled across a review for Soulless.  (I really wish I could remember where I read it, but my mind has gone totally blank.)  Much to my shock, the book actually sounded good, so I downloaded a sample onto my Nook.  After reading the sample I immediately downloaded the entire book, which I proceeded to read in one day.
This book was a complete and utter delight.  Set in Victorian England, it’s not the Victorian England we’re familiar with.  Here vampires and werewolves are part of every day life and have been for centuries.  I thought Gail Carriger handled this beautifully.  She doesn’t spend pages and pages trying to convince her reader of the validity of this world she’s created; she simply inserts bits of explanation here and there without disrupting the flow of the story.  She’s convincing, too.  I was so completely pulled into the story that when I came to one of the sex scenes I was totally shocked by how graphic it was.  I mean, really!  For a woman to write such things – how improper!  And then I came back to earth and remembered this was published a year ago, not over 100 years ago.  Oops.
I got a huge kick out of the lead character, too.  It’s hard not to like a woman who, in the first chapter, retreats to the library to escape a boring ball, where she scolds a rude vampire for his lack of manners, whacks him with her parasol, and then is more upset that said vampire knocked over the treacle tart than by the fact that he tried to bite her.  And that’s just the beginning.  Wait until you read the exchanges between her and her friend Ivy – hilarious!
So.  I can’t believe I’m saying this about a book filled with vampires and werewolves, but go read this.  It’s no Bunnicula, but it’s great fun nonetheless.
Other reviews:
Did I miss your review?  Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Read Full Post »

So I may be slightly, kind of obsessed with the Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton.  I may have been known, in the past, to completely lose the ability to breathe, speak and/or stand due to complete, hysterical laughter while reading or quoting one of these books.  Possibly.

Anyway, our Scholastic book order arrived in the mail yesterday, containing within its lovely white and red box the latest Dear Dumb Diary book, That’s What Friends Aren’t For.  So I broke the cardinal nap rule and instead of being all productive and stuff while my students slept, I read.  Which was a really bad idea.  Because I nearly choked trying to hold the gales of laughter in.  I’m going to hold back here and only share two quotes with you, but you have to PROMISE me that you’ll go read the rest yourself.  And by rest I mean the entire series.  Or at least my favorite two, #5 and #7.

In honor of today:

The rest of today went pretty much like all Tuesdays go: The thrill of the weekend is behind you, but the crushing resentment of Wednesday has not begun.

Tuesdays are how I imagine being an adult will feel every day. Except when I get to be as old as my parents. Then I think it will always feel like Monday morning. In February. And it’s snowing polar bears. And they have rabies. (15)

And the bestest of the bunch (okay, I’m already laughing, and I haven’t even started typing it yet):

As you know, Dear Dumb Diary, I love to draw, and one of my artworks has won an award at the Art Show every year since I first entered way back in second grade.

For some reason, back then I was obsessed with drawing naked Barbies. The teachers didn’t feel that those were appropriate for a kids’ art show, so they used the only artwork I did all year without a naked Barbie in it, which was this picture of a cow in front of a barn. It really wasn’t a very good drawing, but I thought it was cool because I made it out of cut-up construction paper and the doors of the barn could open.

At the Art Show, I discovered that they had neglected to open the doors on my little barn, so I opened them myself, which revealed the dozen little naked Barbies within. I won a prize right then and there, because they felt they needed to use the third-place ribbon to quickly seal the doors closed, probably for an eternity. (18)

HAHAHAHAHA!!!  I really, really should not have read this while my students slept.

Read Full Post »

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (#1, #2, #3 & #4)
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2009
Source: public library

Whenever I see a book with the word “diary” in the title I immediately think of the Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton.  I try to banish them from my brain as soon as possible because I know whatever book I’m holding in my hand will pale by comparison.

This was precisely my problem when I started reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  A tiny voice inside my head kept saying, “This isn’t as funny as Dear Dumb Diary,” which just wasn’t fair.  It’s hard to top a book that repeatedly makes you laugh so hard you cry.  (Like the day a co-worker and I stood on the playground quoting lines from the books to each other, when we laughed so hard we could barely breathe.  Those poor children must have thought we were dying.)  Just thinking about my favorite lines from those books makes me laugh out loud, so you can see what Diary of a Wimpy Kid was up against.

That tiny, Dear Dumb Diary-obsessed voice did finally shut up, though, and about halfway through the first Wimpy Kid book I really started to enjoy it.  Jeff Kinney gives Greg Heffley, the diary’s author, an almost impassive voice, making his anecdotes and observations even funnier.  The funniest moments always came when I least expected them.  One minute I’m, say, reading about him compiling his Christmas wish list and reminiscing about wish lists past and then suddenly I’m reading:

That’s how I ended up in the emergency room two weeks later with a pink Barbie shoe stuck up my nose. (119)*
This was the first time I actually laughed out loud, and I’m thrilled to report it just got better from there. After finishing the first book I plowed through the next three, getting in an entire year’s dose of good, cheesy fun in one weekend. (What a terrible weekend, I know!)  Now I’m curious about the movie that just came out. I have a hard time imagining these books as a movie, though; they seem too episodic for that. Has anyone seen it? Any good?
Overall, gold star for Greg Heffley and his diaries.  Looking forward to more 🙂

Other reviews:

Did I miss your review?  Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Read Full Post »