Monday, December 21, 2009

shake my sillies, er, sequels out

At this time of year, when every hour of the day is filled with something that must be done, when the world is looking back at the wonders of the year (!) with nostalgia, when the sun is out such a pitiably short time of the day (week, month...), I just need to be reading light and frothy books. Last week, I laughed my way through three of them--what a good week!

Moxy Maxwell does not love practicing the piano (but she does love being in recitals) by Peggy Gifford find the intrepid Moxy making a few plans of her own for her first piano recital. Moxy and her sister Pansy will be playing "Heart and Soul" (other interesting musical selections include "Chopsticks" and, played by Moxy's twin brother Mark, "Flight of the Bumblebee"--I guess the students are either talentless dolts or prodigies). While Moxy cannot be bothered with actually practicing her recital piece, she has been very busy supervising the making of a gold crown and a red-lined black velvet cape for her to wear for the event. As usual, chaos reigns wherever Moxy goes, and the laughs flow thick and fast.

Oggie Cooder, Party Animal by Sarah Weeks finds Oggie, the talented charver (he can charve the shape of every state into a piece of American cheese--chew and carve make charve), invited to his neighbor Donnica Perfecto's birthday party. Donnica would rather do anything than have Oggie at her party, but her mother needs Oggie's mother's help to whip her lawn into shape before inspection by the local gardening club as they decide if she is membership-worthy--a happy Oggie means a happy, and helpful, Mrs. Cooder. To discourage Oggie, Donnica makes a list of things he cannot do at the party: wear a red bathing suit, making his funny "prr-rip" noise (it is a result of happiness and excitement and quite unconscious on his part), wear crocheted shoelaces, and so on, over 100 things in all. Oh, he must have the list memorized, too, since she will quiz him. Will Mrs. Perfecto get in the garden club? Will Oggie memorize the list? Will Donnica get the one things she wants for her birthday? Will there be another book about Oggie? Please, say yes to that one.

Then came book number two in the 43 Cemetery Road series: Over my dead body by Kate Klise with illustrations by M. Sarah Klise. I.B. Grumply (Iggy) the 60+ year old author, Seymour Hope the young boy he acquired through his rental agreement and Olive C. Spence the ghost in the cupola have settled into happy home life, writing mystery books together and seeing to Seymour's education. One day, the horrible Dick Tator, leader of the International Movement for the Safety & Protection Of Our Kids & Youth (IMSPOOKY), shows up at the door, threatening to remove Seymour from the home he loves because ghosts do not exist. Tator also cancels Halloween and convinces the public that there are no ghosts...and these people have known, and dealt with, Olive for years. Harumph. More giggles and much delight--such an enjoyable read.

On the more serious side, my in-my-purse book is Half broke horses by Jeannette Walls of The glass castle fame. This is a fictionalized version of her grandmother's life. Chapters are short and they read like memories being shared by the teller. Lily Casey is the oldest daughter of an opinionated and well-read rancher and his frail and fainting wife. Lily is the strong, organized, take charge type. She wants to learn and make something of herself but her parents think education would make her unattractive to marriagable men. At 15, Lily strikes out on her own, working as a teacher and later a maid and attending school during her leisure hours. Life has some hard lessons for Lily but she is indomitable, and very likable. A big thumbs up on this book.

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