Friday, September 6, 2013

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2013 - Installment #12

Today is the first Friday in September. Which means it's time for the Fourth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series!

If you're a regular reader of Bugs and Bunnies, you know exactly what's in store, and I hope you're excited to get started. If you're new here, I expect you'll be wanting a bit of explanation before we dive in today.

Here's the Peanut-Shell Explanation (because peanut shells are small, so they only hold a little bit):
  • Every Friday in September, I post a round-up of kids' books I just love, with characters who are, well, characters. You know: the misunderstood, the eccentric, the quirky, the unique, the weird, the wacky. Those books might be picture books, or chapter books, or middle grade books, or young adult books.

And here's the Walnut-Shell Explanation (because walnut shells are bigger than peanut shells, so they hold a little bit more):

Visit the links below for more in-depth information:
  • Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series - This is the main page for the series. Here you'll find a brief explanation of how the series works, and links to Installments #1-11 from the previous three celebrations.

Once you're all caught up, come back to this post, and we'll Crack this Coconut (because coconuts are bigger than peanuts and walnuts, so they hold a lot more, and whether a coconut is nut or or a fruit or a seed or a drupe, it's the biggest nut-type-thing I could think of).

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Back now? Wonderful! Let's get started with Installment #12. As in past years, there will be Variations on the Overall Weirdo Theme for each installment. This year's Variations will all start with "O." (I don't know why. They just came to me. Sometimes it's best not to question inspiration that just drops in your lap like that.) This week's Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme is:

Odd Ducks

You know the type – they're just this side of normal, and they have their own unique way of doing things. The characters in the following books fit that bill, to be sure – odd animals, in even more odd situations:

Max's Chocolate Chicken
Written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells
Ages 3 - 7

One morning, Max finds a chocolate chicken in the birdbath. Max loves the chocolate chicken. But before he can grab it, big sister Ruby lays down the rules: First, they have to do an egg hunt. Whoever gets the most eggs, gets the chocolate chicken. So, they set off. Ruby keeps finding eggs, but Max keeps finding anything but. And when it becomes clear that the chocolate chicken is not going to go to Max, Max takes matters into his own hands...

Written by Margie Palatini
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Ages 3 - 7

Moose has a rather hairy problem - a mighty, massive, itchy moosetache. Because of his moosetache, dancing is nearly impossible, cooking is a messy disaster, and skiing is downright dangerous. And so, he is determined to tame it. But how? Moose tries all manner of creative solutions, but each "solution" brings even more trouble. Then, just when he's sure he'll never figure out how to manage his mischievous moosetache, Moose runs into...her. And soon, things become much more manageable indeed.

Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue
Written, illustrated and directed by Sandra Boynton
Ages 1 - 4, technically. But really, Ages 1 - 100 will enjoy it, too.

Presented in the style of a musical stage production, Philadelphia Chickens is a compilation of songs covering a variety of off-beat topics, such as: an ode to out-of-reach cookies, an existential examination of the belly button, and the antics of a group of swingin' city chickens, to name just a few. The book features illustrations, lyrics and music for each song, and comes with a CD featuring the original recordings from such entertainment greats as Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep and Scott Bakula. Add in vocal performances from the Aaaardvarks, The Seldom Herd, and The Bacon Brothers, and the result is a ton of silly reading and listening and singing fun.

Wind in the Willows
Written by Kenneth Grahame
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
Ages 8 and up

Mole keeps a fastidious house, and usually he enjoys doing so, but one day during Spring cleaning, he's had enough. Craving something new, he sets off from his home in search of adventure. And he finds it in the form of Water Rat, who introduces Mole to the river life - exciting stuff for a Mole. Then, things get considerably more adventurous when Mole finds himself pulled into the goings-on of the infamous Mr. Toad, who has wild rides through the woods in (someone else's) motor car, endures a stint in jail, and finds himself in a tricky battle with weasels intent upon usurping Toad's fabulous abode for themselves. Through it all, mild-mannered Mole discovers he's made of tougher stuff than he imagined. And the adventures are exciting, just as he'd hoped. Still, he begins to pine for his quiet little life at home after a while. But, after taking the wild ride that is running about in company with Mr. Toad and friends, will Mole ever be able to return to his comparatively hum-drum life?

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So. That wraps it up for today. But before you go, I'll leave you with this:
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
                               - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be sure to come back next Friday, September 13th, 2013, for Installment #13 of the Fourth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, which will showcase books whose characters find that "normal" is a relative term.