Tag Archives: bedtime stories
The Bermuda Triangle by Aaron M. Rudolph.
My son has become an early embracer of conspiracy theories and other mysteries of the unknown. Channel surfing a few weeks back, we came across a documentary about the Bermuda Triangle. It is indeed an enticing sort of mystery: ships and planes and people seeming to vanish into thin air. Reports of crazy wormhole-like activity! So I headed to the 001 section of the children’s nonfiction at the local library. For those unfamiliar with the Dewey Decimal Classification, 001 is where you will find all the books about aliens, cryptids, and mysteries like the Bermuda Triangle. For the record, I grabbed a UFO Files book and a Loch Ness Monster book as well.
Filled with color pictures, simple text, and a nice mix of fact and speculation, this book is a big hit. I for one never realized how difficult it would be for my son to say “BERMUDA”. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue! But this book has opened him up to the concept of ghost ships, and Atlantic geography, and all the wonderful Mysteries of the Unknown. I must admit I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of stuff and I’m more than delighted that he takes such an interest in it too! Next up: government cover-ups of alien encounters? Sasquatches? The world of pseudoscience is all at our fingertips!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.
I’ve been reading a disproportionate number of grown-up books these day. That’s not a bad thing; I’m just so accustomed to picture books and young adult literature! I’d been told of this book a couple years ago, but I’m pretty slow on the draw. I’d say this book is worth a read. Clay Jannon was a silicon valley graphic designer who was among the many victims of the Great Recession. After a lengthy unemployment, he happens across a San Francisco bookstore that is hiring for the night shift. It is immediately apparent that Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is not your typical bookstore. For one thing, most of the selection is a series of mysterious books which Jannon is forbidden to even look at. They take up a huge, 3-story shelf. The customers who request these books are eccentric, often disheveled, and frantic for the next edition. Jannon is required to record every detail of his encounters in the old leather-bound log books. When coaxed by a friend, he takes a look at one of the books and discovers it’s an entire volume written in code. As his curiosity deepens, he begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding this strange bookstore and its mysterious owner.
It’s a very interesting read, though the dialogues about technology versus old knowledge are a little overdone; one would almost think that Google paid a sum to have their products featured so prominently. Also, despite being somewhat ordinary in his skill set, the narrator has only incredible people in his life: the Google programmer; the skilled sculptor who works at ILM; the millionaire digital rendering master. It’s all just a little too convenient. The other half of the story, however, addresses the life of Aldus Manutius, an influential 16th-century printer and publisher, whose legacy surrounds the mysteries of the bookstore. That bit was a lot of fun. Overall it’s an intriguing story about old and new and an inquiry into if and how modern technology and the much-loved print medium might coexist.
Also: the cover glows in the dark! You can’t discover THAT in a digital format!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is really the best. If you have a child, you have likely encountered at least one of his wonderful series. There’s the Knuffle Bunny books, and the Pigeon books and for kids FINALLY reading on their own, there are the Elephant and Piggie books, of which there are approximately a zillion. My favorite (and my son’s favorite; he has impeccable taste) is We are in a book! which is a fantastic little piece of meta fiction for children. The story revolves around the casual mention by Piggie that he and the elephant (whose name is Gerald, naturally) are in a book. This simply blows Gerald’s mind.
What happens after this revelation is a lot of fun with the reader. The best bit being when they realize they can make the reader say “banana”, which results in much hilarity, both for the reader and the characters. But when Gerald realizes the book is going to end on page 57, panic ensues. What will happen at the end? Will they cease to be? Read it and find out!
There are a bunch of books in this series. I like them better than most readers because they are not only very simple and easy to read, they are also clever and funny. None of this “the dog is dirty. Let us give the dog a bath” nonsense. I don’t think boring stories are going to get reluctant readers to pick up a book. These hilarious Elephant and Piggie books have gotten my son over the “reading is a chore” hump and he is now diving into a whole world of books.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
I came across this novel when I read a Buzzfeed list a friend had posted which recommended adult novels based on which young adult novels you liked. If you liked Harry Potter, then you might like The Magicians. One might also say that if you liked the Chronicles of Narnia then you might like this. Mind you, this is NOT a book for children. This story is about magic college, not middle school. It’s full of all the drinking, drama, and poor choices that twenty-something-year-olds, magically gifted or otherwise, would make.
The story begins with a seventeen-year-old named Quentin who is bright and studious and who has never quite fit in. Secretly he still dreams of the magical world of Fillory, a series of children’s fantasy novels very much like Narnia. One day, after receiving a mysterious package, he finds himself transported to the campus of Brakebills, which is a school for magicians. He passes the entry exams and becomes a full-fledged student at a school of magic, draped in glamours that keep it hidden in the middle of upstate New York. Although there are little bits reminiscent of Harry Potter, this is not Harry Potter. Lev Grossman creates a unique magical world all its own. And although Fillory is like Narnia, you never see Edmund and Lucy behaving the way these magicians do. It’s a very intriguing and absorbing book even if, like me, you read so slowly it takes forever to get through. Well worth it in the end.
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Liam may only be twelve years old, but he’s a very large twelve-year-old. As in, he looks well older than he is. Stubble, height, the whole nine yards. Although for a long time that made Liam feel like an outcast, he begins to realize that he could use this to his advantage. Did I mention that he is also extremely intelligent? Like too smart for his own good? Well hie is. And when he is sitting at a park with his friend Florida and he realizes that people mistake him for her father, the gears begin to turn. After nearly convincing the Porsche dealer to let him test drive a car, Liam sets his sights higher. Like space higher.
When he finds himself once more confused for an adult, he decides to go for broke on this one, especially because he was selected as one of five dads to take their children to try out the newest, most secretive thrill ride in the world. When the thrill ride turns out to be a rocket? Well, he’s just going to have to be the dadliest of the dads to be selected to take the children on the short trip to orbit.
Okay, so the premise is AWFULLY implausible on this one. But the story itself is still compelling and the underlying theme, about being treated as an adult simply due to his size, is an interesting plot line in itself. Some of the story feels a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that’s not a bad thing. It’ full of clever humor and interesting, if completely unbelievable, scenes. It’s a fun and entertaining book from the author of Millions which was made into a movie a few years back. Worth a read.