Weekly Wrap-Up #8

This week wasn’t much better than last in the realm of finishing books. I finished 2 books, 1 Audiobook and 1 Adult book. I started 2 more, but ekkk! I need to read 2 Juvenile Fictions before the end of Tuesday! I’m not sure if I can do it…

AUDIO

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

Chester the cricket unknowingly becomes a stowaway in a picnic basket. He finds himself in Times Square after living in the countryside of Connecticut. Mario, the son of media kiosk owners, captures Chester and wants to keep him as a pet. He visits Chinatown and, with the help of a Chinese man, gets a cricket cage and learns some cricket-lore and facts.

Chester, Tucker the mouse and Harry the cat have a party one night at the kiosk. An accidental fire from their little party burns a portion of the kiosk down. With the encouragement of his friends, Chester plays his “little violins” (in the words of Jewel from her children’s song “Play Day”) to help appease Mario’s mama after the fire. He plays operas, hymns, and other tunes to the amazement of the family.

Eventually, the public gets wind of Chester’s ability. He draws crowds, but yearns to be back in Connecticut. Tucker and Harry help him achieve his wish.

This short yet deep story will resonate with children who love pets. I love how real Mario is–every child wants to have a pet to take care of and Mario definitely looks after Chester. But he also understands that Chester really doesn’t belong as a pet and is very mature in not trying to locate him after he leaves. The inherent reasoning behind Chester playing for crowds (guilt) and the ability for Mario to willingly let Chester go (unselfishness) are big topics for most of the readers of the book. This book is a great vehicle to have those discussions.

Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palce and Flora Lichtman

A quick listen (almost finished!) about why things annoy us. It’s rather simple: our expectations and optimism about a situation feeds what will bug us. If you expected traffic, then the traffic on the ride home won’t annoy you nearly as much as if you didn’t expect it. After you figure out why things annoy us you can use that to prevent future annoyances. The book goes into detail about cultural expectations, smells, sounds, and more that set us up to be annoyed. I liked hearing the nuicances of what annoyance is and what it isn’t. There are alot of words we interchange with annoyance that really aren’t, e.g. anger or frustration. Overall, a nice book to read to divert your attention off your annoying ride home. Haha.

Books

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery by Joanne Fluke

This is my Adult read for February. I have been looking forward to reading a Joanne Fluke mystery! I mean, all the titles have to do with pastries and who doesn’t like to read about sweets when you can’t eat them (cue eyeroll)? The other reason for me wanting to read one of her “Hannah Swensen” mysteries is because I like whodunits and I thought it would be a complex one wrapped up in frills.

Wrong.

Okay, so I didn’t know who the murderer was until right before the reveal, but the characters and the writing wasn’t complex enough for me. That sounds snobby, doesn’t it? It was just a light read (if you call murder mysteries a light fare), something you’d buy for a beach trip or a plane ride and if you absently forgot it you wouldn’t bemoan it (or at least I wouldn’t).

The premise of this series is Hannah Swensen is a late twenty Minnesotan who goes back to the small town where she grew up, Lake Eden. There she is surrounded by her widowed mom and sister who is married to a cop. She has a bakery called The Cookie Jar which is popular. It has the best coffee and of course cookies. Everyone eats them (Fluke even includes multiple cookie recipes salted throughout the story), much to my disbelief–like do people really eat cookies for breakfast and my other question is what is the obesity rate of this town?!

Ron, a dairy delivery man, is shot in the alley by The Cookie Jar. Hannah helps her brother-in-law discover who shot Ron. With her incognito help, Bill gets promoted to detective. I personally kept waiting for Hannah to get the job because the truth is, Hannah did pretty much everything to figure the murderer out.

Will I continue with the other books in the series? If I get a feeling that I need something light but engrossing, then yes I’ll pick up No. 2. But there are 21 books in the series! So, I probably won’t finish them all unless I get pregnant and have sleeping issues, then I see it being possible.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskins

I mistakenly thought this was the 9/11 historical fiction (can you believe that a 9/11 story is historical fiction! I can’t!) on the new Texas Bluebonnet Book List. It turned out not to be, but now I can compare this strong story to the one that really is on the list.

This story tells the story of 4 fifth-sixth graders who happened to meet at Chicago’s O’Hare airport 2 days before. Baskins gives each of the 4 kids their own chapters and tell their unique story before 9/11 happens. I’m sure some how the 4 will get connected again, more so than each individually being effected by the attack. I’m the kids’ tail end stories of what happened them on 9/10.

Theo’s

Skunked! by Jacqueline Kelly

I decided to try Theo out on this book. It’s his first read aloud where there isn’t a picture at least every other page. I tired to read it during his morning chocolate milk session while we cuddle, but we also read a chapter or two before bed. Since I have already read the story, I knew it was great. However, it is GREAT to read aloud. It is a totally different experience reading this gem aloud.

I wrote about the storyline here (scroll almost to the bottom).

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

Our 2×2 read for the week. It wasn’t that great, honestly. I am not a big fan of speech bubbles with regular text and this book has both. As a silent read, they work. But when you are reading aloud, I just panic with them. When do I read them? Do I need to read them? Surely they are a must or why are they there? It’s too confusing for my taste.

Basically, a boy wants to get something in the mail. He asks the mailbox to send him something and amazing! It read his letter and he gets a dragon. He proceeds to ask for more things. Eventually he gets a ton of things, deciding to share the things with a friend. They send back alot of the things as well and together they play with the two items they kept.

Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection by Mary Engelbreit

A collection of 20 illustrated and simply written nursery and fairy tales traditional to Western culture. Theo loves hearing the stories and the pictures are rather delightful. However, I keep noticing the words “handsome” and pretty.” Now I somewhat understand why we grow up paying attention to physical features and pride ourselves so much if we are good looking. We grow up hearing those superlatives! If the stories we hear award those called certain words, then we will, too. Interesting!


What have you been reading?

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