Friday, September 30, 2011

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2011 - Installment #7

At last, we come to the last Friday in September. Which is also (sadly) the last day of the Second Annual Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. Click the link in the previous sentence if you need to get up to speed. Then come back here and join in the final (for this year) frivolity.

The added twist for this year, instead of the inaugural year's general hodge-podge of wonderfully weird books, is Variations on the Overall Weirdo Theme. So far, we've frolicked through:
Today's Variation reminds us that there's a little bit of weird just about anywhere you look. Even in places you'd think would be nothing but "normal" (whatever that means). So, without further ado, I present to you Installment #7:

Characters Who Just Might Remind You of Someone You Know

Arthur, For the Very First Time, by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrations by Lloyd Bloom
Ages 8 and up

Ten-year-old Arthur's summer isn't starting out so well. His parents are arguing. And a new baby is coming. And nobody seems to be listening to him. But then one day, his parents take him to stay with Great-Uncle Wrisby and Great-Aunt Elda for the summer. When hard-of-hearing Uncle Wrisby grabs Arthur's hand and yells, "What would you like to talk about?" summer starts looking much more interesting. 

Arthur meets Pauline - a chicken who loves French, and Bernadette - a pig who loves to be sung to. Aunt Elda introduces him to a mockingbird with no name, and Uncle Wrisby takes him to bargain with a trader named Yoyo Pratt. He finds new friends in Moira - a scrappy little girl who calls him "Mouse," and her grandfather - a veterinarian whom everyone calls "Moreover." As he spends his summer days and nights with this motley group, Arthur begins to see life in new and unexpected ways.

Another Whole Nother Story, As told by (The Incomparable) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Ages 8 and up

Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in another adventure - with all-new names, of course. Now that they've got the LVR working (the supposedly secret, yet relentlessly sought-after time machine introduced in A Whole Nother Story), the family is all set to travel back in time to just before their beloved wife and mother Olivia Cheeseman meets her unfortunate end at the hands of those seeking to "acquire" the LVR.

But all does not go according to plan. First, they wind up not in the relatively recent past, as they'd planned, but way back in 1668. Worse, their crash landing has damaged the LVR, and unless they can find the proper parts to repair it, the family has no way to return to their own time in the 21st century. As if that weren't trouble enough, the family finds themselves facing suspicion of witchcraft, battling pirates, and navigating a haunted castle. Add to that their tangle with a dangerous nemesis from their present whom they believed they'd seen the last of, and things don't look good. 

Despite these odds, the likeable Cheesemans are not without friends, meeting several helpful souls along the way. But is it enough to help them get out of the distant past, and into the nearer past, so they can save their beloved Olivia Cheeseman, and get back to their own time?

Fish, by Gregory Mone
Ages 8 and up

Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when the family horse dies. Without Shamrock, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.

His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. One day, Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins to deliver. But before he can make that delivery, he is robbed. Fish tracks down the thief, who has delivered the package to pirates aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish decides to sneak aboard and join the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem - possibly the keys to a wondrous treasure, if only the suspected code can be cracked.

As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.

Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair! by Harriet Lerner and Susan Goldhor, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Ages 4 and up

Franny B. Kranny's long, frizzy hair gives her a lot of grief. It's always getting tangled, or caught on things. It even makes the girl who sits with her on the bus, sneeze. But Franny loves her hair. She loves the way it boings back out after she flattens it. And she loves the way it makes a little cave for her to pretend to hide in when she brushes it forward.

One day, Franny's mother says she and her sister must go to get their hair done for their big family reunion. Bertha is pleased. Franny is not. She says she doesn't want anyone touching her hair. But the next day she finds herself grumpily sitting in the hairdresser's chair, where he piles her hair up on top of her head. The hairdresser loves it. And her mother loves it. But Franny begins thinking of ways to undo it.

Then something very unusual happens to her hair on the walk home from the beauty parlor. Her family thinks she should undo it. But Franny decides to keep it that way all through the reunion. Everyone at the reunion loves her hair, and when they get home, her family thinks she should keep it that way. But - and you saw this coming, didn't you? Franny has other ideas.

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood
Ages 4 and up

It's a rainy day, perfect for an afternoon snooze. And in this house, everyone is doing just that. A snoring Granny is napping in the coziest spot in the house. But she isn't alone for long. One by one, the other nappers in the house drowsily find their way to Granny's bed: a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, and a slumbering mouse. Finally, everyone in the house is happily napping in a big pile with Granny in her cozy bed. Everyone, that is, except for one wakeful flea. And pretty soon, no one is napping at all.

Love, Ruby Lavender, by Deborah Wiles
Ages 8 and up

Ruby Lavender is not your average chicken thief. For starters, she's only nine years old. Plus, she wasn't stealing those chickens as much as liberating them from a future lying cooked and crispy on someone's dinner plate. Ruby is looking forward to a summer of caring for her chickens, and spending lots of time with her partner in chicken thievery: getaway driver Miss Eula.

But Ruby's plans quickly unravel when Miss Eula decides to up and leave Halleluia, Mississippi for a while. She's going to Hawaii to visit her new baby granddaughter. She won't be gone forever, but she doesn't know when she'll be back, either. Up until now, Ruby has been Miss Eula's only grandchild, and Ruby is jealous. Plus, how will Ruby care for the chickens and their newly laid eggs, without Miss Eula's help? How will she deal with the torment that is Melba Jane, without Miss Eula to talk her through it? How will she get through helping out at her grumpy Aunt Mattie's general store, without Miss Eula to smooth things over? And who will leave Ruby letters in their secret mailbox, with Miss Eula gone?

As it turns out, that secret mailbox isn't the only way to exchange letters with Miss Eula. And Ruby finds herself spending a summer she never saw coming, and likely will never forget.

* * *

So, here we are at the end of the Second Annual Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. If you haven't read any of the books that were featured this month, I hope you do. And if you have read them, even just a few of them, I hope you had as much fun reading these books as I did.

Drop me a comment or shoot me an email if you have any suggestions for inclusion in next year's Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series

And now, I will leave you with this snippet from the very first BNBWWoLS post:

Remember Merriam-Webster's definition of weirdo? "A person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric." There is a wide range of Weird in this world. Some of us are more so than others. We Weirdos may be different, but always remember: we are extraordinarily so.

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