What kind of superhero types?

Kate DiCamillo just won her second Newberry Award for a story of a girl and her superhero squirrel. She created a cast of quirky characters that slowly rolls out through mishaps, dissappointments, as well as small victories. 

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Flora Belle Buckman is a bit of an outsider and self-proclaimed cynic living with her mother, an often preoccupied recently divorced romance novelist. She spends much of her time reading and throughout the book references her favorite superhero comic and a work of nonfiction titled “Terrible Things Can Happen To You!” The story begins at the start of summer vacation whereabouts on one afternoon her reading becomes disturbed by the sound of neighbors vacuuming their yard. Somethings strikes Flora as odd about this and she looks out her window just in time to see a squirrel being vacuumed up.

   

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After the incident, we gain an unusual vantage that being the squirrel’s perspective. “His brain felt larger, roomier. It was as if several doors in the dark room of his self (doors he hadn’t known existed) had suddenly been flung wide.” Not only has the squirrel has gained in consciousness but also in super rodent powers. He is surprisingly now strong enough to pick up the out of control vacuum and lift it over his tiny head. Other abilities come into play with flying being the least remarkable.

 

Flora finds herself drawn to care for the injured squirrel and decides to name him Ulysses and likens his transformation to that of the hero in her beloved comic. We are introduced to William Spiver the (questionably) temporarily blind great-nephew of Flora’s vacuuming neighbor Tootie Tickham. And Mary Ann, an ornamental shepherdess lamp quite possibly treasured more than Flora by her own mother.  We meet Flora’s socially anxious father George Buckman who bonds with his daughter by using comic book catchphrases that pepper the book such as “Holy unanticipated occurrences” and “This malfeasance must be stopped.”

 Along the way Flora’s mother takes up a campaign to snuff out the squirrel and hands her ex-husband the shovel to do it with thus cementing her status as the villain of the book.

 There is a lot of loneliness in this menagerie. And a lot of snacks. With sprinkles even.

Endearing pencil drawings of K.G. Campbell that “illuminate” Flora and Ulysses. They have a soft and kind quality that mirror the way the characters in the story slowly begin to interact with one another. Sometimes scenes are enacted in comic panels and othertimes small or full page illustrations accent DiCamillo’s writing.

 It wasn’t until the very last page that I felt the overall effect. It wasn’t nearly the tearjerker that was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or as great an adventure as The Tale of Despereaux but it left me with a happy feeling and a definite tendency to look a little closer at the squirrels.

 

                 

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let me unwrap that for you

I have a little admirer named Michael who visits me at the Children’s er2Information desk at the library every week. Sometimes he even brings gifts. In the summer he’ll bring bouquets of dandelions, and in the autumn he’ll bring me choice selections of fallen leaves picked up along his walk to the library.

Last week he filled up a bottle cap with a quarter, two dimes, three pennies, and three Goldfish crackers. I asked him if he was sure that he wanted to give me his money, and his mother answered for him,  “He wants you to be rich”.

This week, four year old Michael brought me a sucker, he ran over and set it on my desk and then came back and said, “Let me open that for you.” Four year old ladies better watch out, this kid is smooth.

two more from moe

According to children’s book author, Mo Willems there are three things you need to know about naked mole rats before reading his new book Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed:     molerat

  1. They are a little bit rat.
  2. They are a little bit mole.
  3. They are all naked.

 Now you are ready. Wilbur isn’t your typical mole rat. He’s not afraid to buck the norm. He likes to get dapper and doesn’t care who frowns upon it. The other mole rats can’t stand it though, they are like your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving who can’t believe you are vegetarian and keeps asking you if you want some turkey. The other mole rats are made so uncomfortable by Wilbur’s individuality that they decide to turn him in to the highest law of naked mole rat land. Will Wilbur be forced to give up his fashion freedom? Only the wise Grand-pah can decide.

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The other book that arrived in our boxes of new and wonderful things today (that isn’t quite new it, it was published in October)  is a part of the Elephant & Piggie series. The main characters are the Odd Couple of children’s literature and never fail to make me giggle.

Gerald, (Elephant) is goofy and loving, always ready to cheer up or calm down uptight and demanding Piggie. The books are done in a deadpan comic style with only one frame of action per page and include varied challenges for the two such as a bird landing on Piggie’s head, in the appropriately named,  “There is a Bird on My Head” or what to wear to a costume party, “I am Invited to a party”.

In “Are You Ready to Play Outside” Gerald and Piggie are all set for a day outdoors when… it starts to rain. Piggie is miffed and as usual Gerald comes to the rescue, I won’t spoil the chuckle by telling you how. I will however tell you that it has dancing worms! Be on the lookout.

3 things I did, that I now know better than to do again.

So Tuesday was my big Halloween get down at the library, the one that I so sensitively advertised as a “Masquerade Party” so that even families that shun the more obvious pagan rituals could come too. I decided to dress up like Pippi Longstocking, who I am constantly being compared to anyways. I mean, all I had to do was put some pipe cleaners in my braids, and POW! instant spunky storybook heroine. I wore this super fantastic 70’s flowy pantsuit jumper thing, with a really cool red & white stripey shirt underneath. You can’t see the patch, but it’s all molars and rainbows in perfect harmony. The stripey shirt was acquired from the merch table of this band Neon Hunk, who look like their stylist could be some hypercolored freak on walrus Ritalin. I’m not sure if they still “exist” or even really where they were from, but I saw them play a few times, and mostly remember that they were super cute. Except that you couldn’t tell that they were on the pretty side because they wore these full out costumes. For some reason, I really like when attractive people wear masks. Continue reading