Monday, March 08, 2010

A Funny Book and A Progress Report

After going through a cavalcade of tearjerkers, I indulged in some funny and historical (but not funny historical-unfortunately, there's too little of that, with a few notable exceptions such as this and that) reads.

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency

Let's face it. Most children's books that have a Thanksgiving theme are either Pilgrims-related or have a "let's give thanks" theme. All very good and important, but it's good to have a little variety. This is where The Hoboken Chicken Emergency comes in; a hilarious story (set around and after Thanksgiving) about a boy and an oversized chicken. When I say hilarious, I mean genuine laugh out loud humor, and I don't often laugh out loud when reading. A smile or a brief chuckle, sure, but having to stop reading because I was laughing? That, my friends, is the genius of Daniel Pinkwater.

Oh! And not only is it hilarious, it's a perfect pick for children who are ready to move beyond easy chapter books.

Several weeks ago, I joined the 10-10-10 reading challenge, which challenges participants to read 10 books in 10 different genres (that they normally don't read) by 10/10/10. I haven't made much progress, but I'm enjoying the challenge. Here's a look at what I've read:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (graphic novel)

Verdict: I had more fun reading this than what I thought I would have. It's very exciting, very cool, and has a great female character in Lady Yu, which isn't always the case in Japanese manga.

A Finder's Magic

Verdict: Lovely. A lovely story about a boy searching for his missing dog. I adored it.

American on Purpose (current adult fiction/nonfiction)

Craig Ferguson has been a presence in American television for a number of years now, but it's only recently that I've noticed more attention being paid to his show and career. Unfortunately, he's on way too late during the work week (and I don't have a DVR yet), but what I've caught of his show, thanks to his website and Youtube, has been hilarious. American on Purpose is very funny (Ferguson is an excellent writer), but it's also a very honest and at times, scary account of his bleak childhood in Glasgow and his struggle with alcoholism and relationships. It's also a story of his love affair with America, which started with a trip to New York while still a teenager (Ferguson is now an American citizen and begins his monologue with "It's a great day for America...."). If the language doesn't put you off (you've been warned), it's quite an inspirational triumph-over-adversity story and a great read, even if you've never seen his show.

Spaniel Surprise (1st, if possible, book in a series that I haven't read)

Verdict: #18 in the Animal Arks series, which takes place in and around a British veterinary practice. Cute story.

Mermaid Tales From Around the World (folktale collections)

Verdict: This is really cool. Mary Pope Osborne (author of The Magic Treehouse series as well as other books) has gathered a wide variety of mermaid tales (including Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid"), including a merman story. Not having read many mermaid stories (other than Andersen's story), I was struck by how melancholy most mermaid stories are, for they are often caught between the human world and the sea world.

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn (mystery)

Verdict: Another one that I enjoyed more than I expected I would. It's a fantastically told story that deals with the Japanese class system of the time, samurais, kabuki theater, and the status of Kirishtans (Christians) in 18th century Japan.

Next up in the 10-10 challenge: science fiction, a scary story, a sports story, and a horse story.

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