Thursday, April 3, 2014

Claudia and the Bad Joke (Babysitters' Club series #19)

Claudia and the Bad Joke (The Baby-Sitters Club, #19)
by Ann M. Martin (and it seems that she actually wrote this one.  Most of the later books in the series were written by other authors.) 

Orig Pub Date: 1988
Date I First Read It: 1988 (Read quickly at a store.)
Stars (1-5):  3.5

Brief summary:  Claudia is the victim of a joke gone bad at the hands of her babysitting charge.  Her leg is broken.  She gets lots of visitors at the hospital compared to her hospital roommate, who seems to have little going on socially.  She is also considering retirement from babysitting. 

Some comments:  I have seen it noted on other blogs that Claudia's leg on this cover looks extremely long.  I have always wondered what I found disturbing on this cover, and that's it! Her leg is too long!  However, having a too-long leg gives her a lot of space to create art on her cast, which she does once she gets out out of traction and goes home.  I think this book still takes place during one of their first years of eighth grade.  (The older members of the Babysitters Club were in 8th grade for 14 years! See my post about the members of the Babysitters Club turning 40 this year!)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Babysitters Club Turns 40?

This has probably already been said, but if my calculations are correct and reasonably close, the girls in the Babysitters Club will be turning 40 this year or have already just recently turned 40. 

Way back in 1986 when the first BSC book was published, calculating as I always do and did when I read a book - if there's no time frame given, we can assume it takes place in the present.   When I was eleven in 1986, the original four girls of the Babysitters Club were twelve years old, more or less.   So they were approximately a year older than me! 

I read many of the earlier books even though at the time I was also already reading YA fiction, and some adult nonfiction by age eleven. I had tested at a higher reading level in school, as well.  However, I saw these books at the library, and could read each one in a hour and a half or less.   I liked the idea of girls being friends and organizing their babysitting together. (I just had no idea it would become a series of well over a hundred books that would eventually be ghost-written after a while.  Ann M. Martin did not write all of them.) 

Anyway, if the girls hadn't been stuck in 8th Grade for thirteen or more years, they would be turning 40 this year! They should have well-established lives.  I am curious.  I have found some fan fiction online, but some of it is just plain weird (and rather badly written.)  Some of those people have answers for what happened to the characters.  I have liked none of those stories, really.

According to this link, Ann M. Martin had somewhat vague things to say about where the BSC girls would be now.   It doesn't tell us if they got married, had children, specific careers, etc. 

Here is in interesting (and more detailed) take on where the characters would be now:

I might attempt to write up my own "where they are now" descriptions. I also wonder if they would all be on Facebook as well, and what their profiles would look like.  (Although the second link I have included above says that Mary Anne does not know how to use the Internet . . . I find that impossible to believe.  Really, if Mary Anne is keeping the photos of her children safe from fire, she will learn how to use the internet to make sure everything is also digitally-stored and backed up!  Hmm, I will have to write my own version of their futures - in the future.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Reading Recap / Top Reads of 2013

I have 190 books recorded on my LibraryThing.   This IS counting a number of picture books, but maybe 10 to 15 at the most.  The rest are at least fifty pages or longer as that was my criteria that put in place when I was ten years old (fifty pages or so to make the list.)

Here are the books (including picture books) that made five stars out of five stars.  I rated them as I read them.  Some may have been already featured on this blog this year. They may or may not have been new this year.  They were all new-to-me books.

The list is in alphabetical order by title.

My Top Reads of 2013:
The Amish by Donald B. Craybill (Adult Nonfiction)

Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg (Adult Nonfiction/Family History)

Apollo's Outcasts by Allan Steele (YA/Teen Fiction/Science Fiction)

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Lee (Fiction)

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson (Fiction)

Below by Meg McKinlay (Juvenile/YA/Middle Grade Fiction)

Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell (Juvenile Nonfiction)

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer (Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction)

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction) - One of my hopes for winning the Newbery Award this year.

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds (Picture Book)

The Drama Years by Haley Kilpatrick (Nonfiction)

 Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction - Fun!)

Expecting Better by Emily Oster (Nonfiction)

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach (Nonfiction)

Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing by Megan Smolenyak (Nonfiction/Genealogy)

Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar (Nonfiction)

How They Croaked:  The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg (Middle Grade Nonfiction)

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney (Nonfiction/Memoir)

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle (Fiction)


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Fiction)

Listen to My Trumpet by Mo Willems (Picture Book / Easy Reader)

 Losing It by Erin Fry (Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction)

Mean Moms Rule by Denise Schipani (Nonfiction/Memoir/Parenting)

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction/Autism Spectrum/Sibling Death)

Monkey Ono by J. C. Phillips (Picture Book)

Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson (Nonfiction/Memoir/Dementia)

Noni is Nervous by Heather Hart-Sussman (Picture Books/Anxiety)

OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn (Teen/YA Fiction)

Paging the Dead: A Family History Mystery by Brynn Bonner (Fiction)

Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley (Nonfiction/Memoir)

The Supper Club Book by Dave Hoekstra (Nonfiction)

The Truth About Love and Lightning by Susan McBride (Fiction)

Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nichols (Juvenile Fiction)

A Wilder Rose by  Susan Wittig Albert (Fiction/Historical Fiction/Biography)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

I will be posting more soon .  . . but let's just say that I haven't read true horror in a long time (in my teens and into my twenties, I loved it.  I've kind of gotten away from it for the most part since then.  Well, except for Unwind, but I won't go into that now.)   I think this is horror, but not gratuitous horror.  So far, it is very well done.  I will post more  when I finish reading it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce  -  This is the first novel by Ms. Bryce who live in the UK.   

The main character, Megan, has some kind of brain cancer (it’s not revealed right away) and the novel opens with Megan’s arrival on the pediatric oncology unit of the hospital.  She does not care for this because, after all, she is almost fourteen.   There are elephants on the curtains!  Her elderly grandfather (he is 95) assures her that this is more “fun” then being with old grumpy adults.  There is only one other teen with cancer in their wing, and they are friends of sorts.  His name is in the title: Jackson.   He is quite outgoing, and Megan wants him to be wrong when he informs her that he friends will not visit.  He was not wrong.  

Anyway, I need to do a bit of comparison to similar books (books about teens with cancer) I have read over the years.   To do that, the comparison can be summed up with the following:  It is better than Lurlene McDaniel’s books (example: Six Months to Live), but not as good as John Green‘s The Fault in Our Stars.  I have read most of McDaniel’s books, just to note – and many of them when I was twelve and thirteen years old.  And just to note an even older book in this type of genre  that I read at age 12 or so, I think I like Waiting for Johnny Miracle by Alice Bach more than this book in some ways. (The characters seem more developed for one thing.)

 I suppose part of my complaint is that the reader does not get to really know Megan very well.  There is an air of detachment, to be honest, and throughout the entire book.   As I read, I started to understand that Megan is trapping her feelings and thoughts in herself, and talking to no one, but it is difficult to see this at first.   The remainder of the characters remain relatively undeveloped.  Jackson himself comes partially “alive” as a character, but even with him, as the title character, I expected to get to know him a little more.   Once again, there was a feeling of distance.

This book is definitely for young middle grade readers - ages 9 to 12 or so.  I personally would have liked this book at ages eight or nine - I loved Angie and Me at age 8, for instance.  (Here is my blog post on that book from 2008.) 

Date Published: January 2013 in Great Britain; April 2013 in USA – by Bloomsbury.

Date I First Read Book: October 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Matter of Days

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer (2013)  YA/Teen Fiction

Nadia and her younger brother Rabbit are alive after their mother die from BluStar, a virus that travels around the world and kills 99% of the population.  Their uncle Bean is a doctor who has been working in a top secret project for the government. He has a vaccine that he gave to Nadia and Rabbit, but their mother refused it.   He has returned to his father's home across the the country, and when their mother dies, Nadia and Rabbit set out to join their uncle and grandfather in West Virginia.  This is the story of their adventures along the way.

I really enjoyed this book - maybe in part because it is not nearly so "scary" as Stephen King's The Stand, and maybe in part that it is general not so full of "bad" people and violence as other books of similar nature and content.   Even though there is SOME violence - and some hinted at as well - in the aftermath of this disaster, it is not overwhelming.  Generally most of the characters are good people.  I'd like to think that most people would be nice in the aftermath of such a disaster.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (2012 in Great Britain, and 2013 in the US.)

This is a novel in verse about a girl new to England with her mother, from Poland. Kasienka (often known as Cassie in England) and her mother are there to look for their father and husband.  Kasienka's tata had left them and gone to England some years before.   Her mother is desperate to find him.   They take a small room in a boarding house, and Kasienka starts going to school.  The school head incorrectly assumes that Kasienka needs to being in a lower grade level because English is not her first language.   Kasienka eventually takes tests and blows them all away.  She is moved up to her proper age group.  She navigates the pitfalls and bullying from other girls as she discovers the new life her father is living, a relationship with a boy, and how well she can do on the school swim team.  

This is a good read for middle grade kids.