Monday, January 28, 2013

Best Book Bets 1/29/13

(3 are actually funny though!) 

Guns - Stephen King
(NON-FICTION/KINDLE) Back in the day the book and the film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange went were battled in court as to their culpability in relation to violent acts that mirrored events in the story. The result was that they may influence how a crime is perpetrated but were not the impetus for the event. King himself was confronted for his novel Rage that was written under his non de plume, Richard Bachman (a name he reserved for his lesser-than novels.) Although his agreed with the above verdict he did see that while the novel addressed the problem of troubled teens drawn to vigilante violence he felt it may be an "accelerate" and asked his publisher to pull it from distribution. King is also a gun owner (he lives in Maine for Gosh's sake.) Again he took the time to address the situation and in a meager 25 pages, 8,000 words, gets to the heart of the matter more effectively than a two week commission. He addresses the media that covers such tragic events, the legislator that protects the industry with its dysfunction, the "gun enthusiasts" who refuse to give us their toys for the safety of our society all the while supporting the essence of the 2nd amendment. Intensely personal in voice (King the father, the neighbor, the American rings in every line.) Also reiterated its the communal frustration in the dysfunctional discourse of us as a people on an issue who's need for bilateral efforts should be self-evident. He released this as a Kindle Single you can download so to get the discussion cooking with immediacy. Read it for yourself, its less than a buck. Talk about it and then DO SOMETHING!
(JHU Press)
Reducing Gun Violence: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis - edited by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) AIf you want less personal passion influencing your decisions on this matter may I suggest this hot-off-the-presses release that covers a consensus that gun violence in the United States is an urgent public health issue. Experts discuss gun policy and violence researching the implications for policymakers and citizens. The constitutionality of recommended policies is covered. The weakness of current federal gun policies and the efficacy of various state laws designed to reduce firearms are compared. Other countries approaches and results are also considered. A scholarly compendium that will prove a valuable addition to the debate for both sides.

Daddy Love - Joyce Carol Oates
(FICTION/CLOTH) With more than 70 books under her belt Oates gives King a run for his money. She does in the horror department as well. When I say that I mean that nobody fleshes out the real life boogeymen of dysfunction we all confront in life better than her. With her unblinking style she now tackles one of our deepest fears, the abduction of a child. A mother's child is taken from her arms in a parking lot. She is then left for dead after being run over by the getaway van. Now it gets dark. The title character is a deranged preacher who abducts boys to brainwash into being his son and lover. The child's parents never give up searching, their obsession leaving their marriage in tatters. The boy grows older and fights to avenge his captor before he becomes a monster himself. The result is the most disturbing page-turner since Peter Straub's A Dark Matter. The almost detached writing style adds to the repugnant chill that permeates this study of survival.

White Dog Fell from the Sky - Eleanor Morse
(FICTION/CLOTH)   The in the trenches immersion into the political unrest of Africa that Verghese's Cutting for Stone offered its readers is shared by this special novel. Its South Africa in '76, apartheid in full effect. Isaac, a medial student, flees his country after his friend is murdered by members of the Defense Force and is smuggled into Botswana in a hearse. then dumped by the side of the road to fend for himself. He saves a thin white dog that is being abused and they bound one with the other. Together they search for a new beginning. Isaac soon finds himself taken on as a gardener by an American couple. The wife grows fond of him and when he is compelled to leave to fight the injustices all around him the wife follows opening herself up to the beautiful and dangerous world outside her safe confines. It is a tale of perseverance and loyalty, the best qualities of dogs and people treated like one.

Insane City - Dave Barry
(FICTION/CLOTHI know, when I think of Barry lately I think of his antidotal tales of being a parent that are amusing at best. Now a decade since his last adult novel he reassures that not only can he bring the funny but he can weave quite the thriller. In a style reminisant to Hiaasson, or better, Elmore Leonard. This rollicking novel outdoes the movie The Hangover with its absurd confrontations. Seth the groom-to-be is the brunt of pranksters,The Groom Posse who's antics soon hat soon land them in some very deep doo-doo. Gangsters, strippers, pimps, pythons and some very bad men stand between Seth and the alter. The threats are real not just farce and Barry delivers crackerjack timing that builds the tension as well as the absurd humor. 

Delphine - Richard Sala
(FICTION/CLOTH  This is an old school chiller that plays like Snow White redux. A man searches for the Delphine who had just disappeared without a trace save for a cryptic piece of paper. Think Prince Charming in search of his true love. This is as dark as the original tale told by the Brother Grimm, Sneewittchen, and is complimented by grey illustrations that further evoke the classic storytelling. And grim it is. I know this sounds like kid's fare but the tale is far more mature due to its violent nature. Trust me, there are no blue bird's a' chirping and pumpkins drawn by mice in this rendition, just a solid tale of love in the face of diabolical adversity.

Gun Machine - Warren Ellis
(FICTION/CLOTH  A big argument in the gun debate is if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. Case in point, NYC's underworld is rife of them. Following the trail of the man who killed his partner, John Tallow stumbles upon an arsenal of illegal guns stashed in an apartment. Each weapon was pulled from a dead person's hands and Tallow had discovered a monument built by a mass murderer. What if the hundreds of death were politically motivated as opposed to the illogical work of a madman? Tallow is about to find out as he digs deeper into the stories of the guns' owners. Over the top yet believable, this novel  set up for a big finish and it delivers in spades, maybe not Sam Spade, but something more current and far edgier.

Rage Is Back - Adam Mansbach
(FICTION/CLOTH) Its a common marketing tool in bookselling; "If you liked... then..." Well here you go, If you Liked The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, then dash to your bookstore and grab this powder keg of a novel. Believe it or not this is the same novelist who penned the bedtime book parody Go the F*** to Sleep that Samuel L. Jackson made famous by narrating . Well his threatening bass tones would be great to narrate the trailer for this urban epic. Brooklyn born Kilroy goes to prep school and deals drugs. His dad, Rage, a legendary graffiti writer is not in the picture as he grew up until now, 15 years later. To thwart a long time enemies majoial race Rage plots the ultimate tagging event of all time. He searches the underworld of New York City to assemble a who's-who of graffitti artists for his plan and the reader and his boy go along for the ride. The writing is sharp and at both times funny and tragic as we see witness his passion for the city in all its ugly glory. 
Prodigy - Marie Lu
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  A fierce combination of Hunger Games and Maze Runner, Legend, the first of the series, burst into the YA market. Now its followup is now available and does not disappoint. The American west is now a warring nation called the Republic, Well to do June and slum-raised Day, the boy June once thought killed her brother, bond together with the Patriots to defend the people. In this new chapter they team together to kill the evil new Elector. Day wants the new leader's blood spilt but June questions if the leader, Anden, is the problem or the promise of the future. Classic themes of epic struggle played in a distopian world with enough action to keep the most jaded teen reader flipping pages.
Fire Horse Girl - Kay Honetman
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)    Some of the magic of reading is its ability to transport you into foreign lands and to see the culture through their eyes. He we have a passionate tale of Jade Moon, a stubborn and spiritually liberated girl in a land that forbids it. She emulates her zodiac sign, the fire horse with her unbridled imagination and stubbornness. Her spirit is more suited for America and when she gets the opportunity to go there, escorted by the debonaire young man Sterling Chance (I know "sic" but he is) she jumps at the chance. A romance is kindled on the ship. Once at Angel Island she is detained. Seems see is as unwanted in the States as she was at home. She will have to summon the traits of her zodiac avatar to find the courage to claim her dream. The book is Lisa See lite for the teen crowd, you grasp the struggle and root for Jade to live up to her legacy.

(Viking Juvenile)
The Tell-Tale Start  - Gordon McAlpine, illus. by Sam Zuppardi
(INDEPENDENT READER) (Viking Juvenile)) Edgar and Allan, brothers, brothers, they dress alike, scheme alike... you get the picture. They are also Edgar Allan Poe's grandnephews and share his dark side. They also own a, natch, black cat, Roderick Usher who is cat-knapped. They convince their folks to a road trip to find him. Along the way they discover creepy twin powers, a mad scientist stalker and their connection to the great writer of the macabre. A smart combination of literary wordplay akin to Lemony Snicket, a touch of Goosebumps and little science thrown in the mix akin to John Connelly's The Gates, this is the start of what should turn into an enjoyable early reader series.

The Bully Book - Eric Kahn Gale
(INDEPENDENT READER)   Each day 160,000 fear being bullied*. This tale is about just one. Middle school stinks especially if you're Eric Haskins. He's a grunt, this year's whipping boy. Jason is king bully. One of his henchmen is even Eric's former best friend Donovan. What went wrong? Why? Eric finds the answer when he discovers The Bully Book, the manual and rulebook for bullies. Within its covers are tricks on how to "make trouble" without getting in trouble, rule the school and, yes, grunt selection. This could be Eric's way out but how does he do it without becoming a bully himself? The book will make to mad, sad and then glad and is an easy read book that addresses issues. For a girl's perspective but just as easy a read seek out Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss If you want a YA equivalent seek out The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm
*An estimated 160,000 students in the US refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers a day. 6 out of 10 American youth witness bullying at least once a day. - American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best Book Bets - 1/22/2013

Winter is my favorite time to read, curled up in front of a fire, warmed by a much-loved comforter. Except for Summertime under an umbrella, a sea breeze cooling the shade as I sip a beverage. Fall though, now that's a time I love to read, the woody fragrance of the falling leaves and the bite of the breeze as they eddy at my feet as I turn a page. Then of course there's Spring with its promise of new beginnings and satisfying novel endings. O.K. my favorite time is anytime I can squirrel away to read and if you are reading this I'm sure you are with me. So hears another week of the Bookie's best; another list of winners.This week we have the scary, the thrilling, the heart wrenching, and yes, the funny.Read & enjoy!

The Uninvited - Liz Jensen
(FICTION/CLOTH) This reads like payback for all the atrocities plaguing our children as of late.A friend mentioned reading an essay explained using children as villains worked so well because of the mating of good and evil as an effective tool for jarring our senses because children are the embodiment of all things good and kind in the world.  There is a world-wide epidemic where children are killing their families. Anthropologist Hesketh Lock uses the observational advantages of his Asperger's Syndrome to discover the cause in hopes of a cure. His stepson Freddy begins to act erratically and he fears he may be coming down with the disease. As Freddy appears to be implicated in a murder Lock has to come to terms with a future where nurturing and parenting becomes a thing of the past. This distopian thriller will make you flinch when you see a young one for days on end.
(St Martins)
Snow White Must Die - Nele Nehaus
(FICTION/CLOTH)  There seems to be a growing facination with mystery writers from other countries (Larsson, Nesbo). Well this novel should make these people very happy. It was an international bestseller (3.5 million copies to date) and its english translation is accessible although possesses that different point of view that makes these foreign entries so compelling. Detectives Kirchhoff and Bodenstein investigate a body that has apparently fallen from a bridge down into a car below. The case brings them to a village of secrets involving the disappearance of a pair of teens years before. The convicted "killer" is released, the accident tied to him and then, another teen goes missing. Its the classic case of community hiding their dirty laundery and the reveals are delicious.

(St Martins)
The Good House - Ann Leary
(FICTION/CLOTH) Here is a more lighthearted story about small towns and the secrets they keep. Hildy Good is a success at everyt role she takes on, real estate agent, motherhood, neighbor, alcoholic. Her family and friends hold an intervention, much to her dismay, but Hildy just feels persecuted and continues living her life on her terms battling the bottle and reality. In her town there is much to drive Hildy to drink and as she is dragged into one of its scandals the book becomes a tug of war between Hildy's desire to drink and the tragic yet at times hysterical events that happen around her that prompt her to tipple. The novel doesn't come off like a Lifetime Movie of the Week, instead its a thoughtful and amusing meditation on why we do what we do and how we choose to live our lives.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Louisa (Lou) Clark likes her life just as it is but when her job at the tea shop disappears as does her love for her boyfriend she finds herself a care assistant for someone else who has lost the value to there life. Her client Will is a quadriplegic due to a motorcycle accident. His life is as joyless as Lou's. Their oil and vinegar relationship tests each of them but after a few verbal shake-ups they begin to fill the darkness in each others lives. This has already been a big success in England where they call such stories "weepies." What makes this novel rise above the lot is how real all the characters are on the page (even the acerbic mother of Will.) Bring out the Kleenex and turn the page, this story gives Segal's Love Story a run for its money.

(Free Press)
Y: A Novel - Marjorie Celona
(FICTION/CLOTH)  A remarkable debut novel about unbreakable spirit.Talk about someone born down on their luck, Shannon is dumped at a "Y"MCA in a dirty sweatshirt, armed with a Swiss Army knife. She is also armed with an old soul that takes the foster system head on. She revives abuse and neglect while in the system until she finds a foster parent with as resilient a spirit as hers, Miranda. The novel weaves the similar tales of the two with Miranda's mother, Yula, and celebrates what a brave act being a family can be. “Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y.”Seriously, how cool is that?

The Drowning House - Elizabeth Black
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Here is another notable debut author. Black presents to us Clare Porterfield, a successful photographer who impending divorce overshadows a death in her family. To avoid the inevitable in her personal life she jumps at the chance to escape back to her hometown,Galveston, Texas, to participate in an exhibition and tend to family affairs.  Her story parallels the tale of Stella Carraday who, legend has it drown in her family house during the hurricane of 1900 when her hair got tangled in a chandelier as the water rose. The truths behind both there fates turn dark and interwoven as Clare comes to terms with her family secrets and her life going forwards. A powerful talent that weaves a tone of Southern Gothic to the tale-telling.
The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker - edited by John Edgar Browning
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  Granted this collection is probably more exciting for us literature nerds out there than for the casual reader, these previously unpublished works shed new light on the man who combined horror, romance and the fear of foreign influence into the classic Dracula. There is fiction, an assortment of poems, journal writings, even a listing of the contents of his personal library. A little more dry but just as enlightening are some pieces done on Stoker from back in the day. As a whole they reveal his interests and influences, the underpinning to his classic work and further advocate his importance as an architect of Gothic literature.

For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication - John O'Connell
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) I'm getting on my soap box for a moment. Letterwriting and the practice of cursive writing has been the key to civilization's soul. Has anyone anywhere, paused before their keyboard or mobile device, to construct the words that would describe the beatings of one's heart as you would when composing a letter? If you say yes then sorry, you're lying. Keyboards are cold and thumbs texting as knumb as the calluses such practice creates. That said, here's a fine book that celebrates letter writing. It is a collection of writings from Churchill to Austen to Dunne; all fine examples of the many values of what was once the only mode of communication, now an art form. To quote Natalie Goldberg from her book Writing Down the Bones "Handwriting is closest to the beat of the heart." Amen, sister!

Splintered - A.G. Howard
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH Re-imagings are all the rage, especially with young adult titles and their subsequent film adaptations. Most are dreck but every once in a while an author takes the term to heart. Howard rebuilds the legend of Alice in Wonderland from the ground up with such attention to detail and pathos it would make Rick Burton blush. Alyssa hears the thoughts of bugs and flowers but don't tell anyone, it landed her Mom in an institution years before. She is an ancestor of Alice Liddell, the girl Lewis Carroll based his novel on. What Alyssa learns is that the tale wasn't woven of fantasy and whimsy but facts. Yes there will be a tea party and a bandersnatch but this psychedelic grotesque is now your mother's wonderland. 

(St. Martin’s/Griffin)
Uses For Boys - Erica Lorraine Scheidt
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)   Growing up and becoming sexually aware can be such a drag. On the surface not so for Anna who uses her relationships with the boys in her life as a substitute for the lack of family in her life. Her Mom is busy dealing with her life in a similar fashion, man to man. The girls in school consider Anna the school slut. Her routine of using boys by being used herself changes when she meets Sam, who has a well-grounded family who enjoys each others company. She learns what is missing in her life and what it will take to fill it. Tough, gritty and as real as the sexually changed world teens live in. Its really about breaking through all that noise and finding what counts in life.

This Moose Belongs to Me - Oliver Jeffers
(INDEPENDENT READER) (Philomel) The classic tale of boy meets moose that has taken the NY Times bestseller list by storm!. Wait a second isn't that usually a dog? Jeffers is no slouch when it comes to children's literature and his chops are well used here. Confession, I love moose (mooses? moseses?) so I was smitten by this tale immediately. Wilfred, probably a little OCD, loves order in his young life. Rules are rules, dot the "i"s. Moose is the perfect companion for young Wilfred. He never barks for example. What Wilfred doesn't realize is that a moose can be very obstinent, especially one that doesn't know that it is owned by a little boy. Still the two strike a bound that works for both of them, for Wilfred companionship and for moose, apples (O.K. a little companionship as well to be truthful.)

Jinx - Sage Blackwood
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Witches, werewolves and trolls, oh my! Welcome to Urwald, the world of Jinx. It is a magical world where wizards are not to be trusted. Jinx knows that but against everything he had been told he takes the advise of crotchety wizard Simon Magnus and ventures off the safe path in search of magical powers. There lies the aforementioned monsters and more in every shadow. His worldly experiences build his knowledge in magic and the more he delves into the unknown the more good looks evil and evil, well, evil still looks even but maybe not so much. In the end Jinx must rely on the magic within. Beautifully rendered world with classic overtones makes this journey a treat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Best Book Bets -1/15/2013

The new year is starting with a bang in the publishing world. Here's this week's perfectas as chosen by the all-knowing bookie. For the kiddos check out the last recommend on the list, a storybook by Newbury award winning author Neil Gaiman. (the panda is mischievous by not creepy as you might expect from the macabre master.

The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell
(FICTION/CLOTH) A couple of years back the novel Swamplandia! rocked my world. Here's another novel that takes a humorous look at the underbelly of suburbia and how ones actions come back to haunt you. Marnie and her sis Ellie bury their parents in their back yard on Christmas eve. What happened to their parents is a mystery to all THEN things start to get creepy. Their story is told by each of them as lies break down, secrets are revealed and you stop reading only to find that hours have past. This is a tale of need and lost as the girls and the old man they befriend search light in the dark Glasgow night. 

The One I Left Behind - Jennifer McMahon
(FICTION/CLOTH) McMahon weaves a disturbing investigative thriller about a serial killer who's M.O. is leaving the hand of his victims as evidence. 25 years ago when Reggie was just a teen his mother was abducted by the monster, a hand left, but no body ever found. Then one day his mother is found alive in a women's shelter. The now successful architect who had buried his past now makes it his mission to find the killer who spared his mother before he can strike again. It is a grisly tale told masterfully that combines dread and compulsion to read on. As the mystery unravels the author does not disappoint as she leads us down into the depravity of criminal Reggie seeks.

The Threads of the Heart - Carole Martinez
(FICTION/CLOTH) I love a novel that has fantasy elements that are firmly entrenched in the real world. Here we have Frasquita who has a unique gift that has been handed down from her family of sorcerers. She is able to fabricate the most beautiful garments that have the power to find one's flaws and deformities. Her village labels her a witch or worse, an adulteress and she is banished. With her familyt under her wings she travels through Spain into Africa searching for a new life devoid of her history of magic. This is a mythic tale of the need for rebirth, for new beginnings, the same incantation as the clothes she weaves. Beautiful and poetic, her adventure will speak to your heart.

A Memory of Light - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
(FICTION/CLOTH) When Robert B. Parker passed, I felt for the author chosen to continue his legacy. How do you continue the work of a man with such a distinctive style without aping his lexicon? Same pains are felt for Sanderson as he tackles Jordan's monumental body of work. Based on the notes and incomplete manuscript for the last chapter in the Wheel of Time odyssey the author estate has decided to release the ending in three parts entitled A Memory of Light. Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, is at hand. The Dragon Reborn rises. The man of the hour, Egwene, is locked away in the white tower. Let it begin!

The Intercept - Dick Wolf

(FICTION/CLOTH) Law & Order has become the most success drama in television history with its countless spin-offs and reworkings. The brainchild of this juggernaut is Dick Wolf who's first novel is a a throw back to classic international thrillers. It has more twists and cliffhangers than the best episodes of his television work but with a distinctly different voice. Its NYC, the One World Trade Center at Ground Zero is celebrated and intelligence agencies fear a new threat is planned to commemorate the ceremony. Two agents, Fisk and Gersten, fight against the clock following one false lead after another before a new American nightmare is unleashed. As the clues are revealed all that is needed is the teeth-clenching steel chords that pre-empt a commercial break to make it complete. Tick, tick, tick... reveal (da-dummm!)

Sky Saw - Blake Butler
(FICTION/CLOTH) Alot of what is considered experimental fiction turns out to be literary thumb twiddling but some authors can hone in the fruits of there efforts into some chilling visions. Butler's word choice and sentence structure gets under your skin. The novel reads like a fever dream Butler's novel births the lovechild of George Orwell and Clive Barker in this troubling vision of the future where books rule over man and one's welcome euthanasia is denied. People are literally numbers for words are stronger than they are. Books even reappear after you destroy them. Man is ruled by the faceless Universal Ceiling makes Big Brother feel wimpy. What's more tortuous than losing your humanity? Find out by reading on.
Butler has penned four other novels and is the editor of the literary blog HTMLGIANTe.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes - Maria Konnikova
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Many of the Bookie's fanbase as mystery novel lovers so when this book hit the shelves we knew we had to give it a shout-out. Sherlock Holmes deductive reasoning is the benchmark of analytical thought. Was his gift the trick of an author's pen or is it something systematic that any of us mere mortals in the real world can master? Konnikova hones her journalistic skills analyszing the concept of a brain attic, a place where we store and label data and builds strategies on how we too can be a mastermind. She is also a psychiatrist and is able to back up her theory with neuroscience. Insightful and informative (hunter's hat, magnifying glass, and pipe not included.)

Return of The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammet, editor Richard Laymen
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Another classic of the who-dunnit is Dashiell Hammett's erasable Thin Man. Martinis were never more enjoyed or crimes more gracefully solved than by Nick and Nora. The novel was Hammet's biggest payday. The 1934 film was an even bigger hit and he was commisioned to kick out sequels that became "After the Thin Man" and "Another Thin Man". They started as novellas first and finally we get to read them as prose not screenplay. This is a grand swan song from a true master in his field. Chill the shaker, add gin and bitters and enjoy reading. The stories are more than an appetizer, they are a main course.

Paper Valentine - Brenna Yovanoff
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH) Of all the authors weaving dark romances for young adults Yovanoff has the most Gothic heart. Her tales of doomed misfits, like Mackie in her novel The Replacements,  pluck at the heartstrings while they gnaw at the gut. The key is that she draws real teens first then allows the macabre world to cast shadows over them and again she tops herself with this tale of Hannah, a girl who mourns the death of her best friend who know haunts her. All she wants is normal but that will never be until she makes things right and brings her BFF's killer to justice. Yes, tale's been told many times before but read through the author's style, the literary equivalent of charcoal drawings, the story seeps in to your own fears.

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Wrap-Up List - Steven Arntson
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  How's this for a new way to approach the apocalypse? In the distopian future just around the corner your mortality will be announced to you by eight foot grey reapers called Deaths. Once your days are numbered you have to scurry to fulfill your personal bucket list before you kick it. The novel is both spooky and sentimental as we follow teenager Gabriela as she receives her letter and she is forced to jump start her emotional life. First crush, friends, family and  in the end, the meaning of life are all met head on as the sickle nears.

Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli
(INDEPENDENT READER) Spinelli is one of the most recoginized authors of children's chapter books but it has been a while since his last book. It was worth the wait for he returns at the top of his form delivering a fantastic fable of a town called Hokey Pokey, where childhood is captured in all of its innoscent perfection. Ride a bike, climb a tree, have an adventure. There are no adults, its a young child's vision of heaven. There are almost no rules in Hokey Pokey... almost. A young girl steals the bike of jack, one of the older children in town. A rule is broken and what was once bliss veers into chaos. In the distance they hear a train, nearing, but that can't be. There are no trains there. so it begins.

Chu's Day - Neil Gaiman, illus. Adam Rex
(CHILDREN STORYBOOK) Neil Gaimen, yes, THE Neil Gaimen. Yes, he did win the Newbury Award for The Graveyard Shift which was an independent reader novel BUT it did have a knife-wielding socio-path hunting down an orphan child. So what horrible things happen in this book for toddlers you may ask? A sneeze. No knives, no boogeymen. Chu is a rolly-pilly, cute as all get-out panda who can sneeze like nobodies business and everything seems to make him do so, books, diners, the circus... I bet you can see the punchline coming... Ahhhh-Chu!