Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day

My son-in-law

The Vietnam Memorial

Over 58,000 names of killed or missing soldiers lie on the two walls of the Vietnam Memorial. Men who served between the years of 1959 and 1975. Men who were given little to no respect for their service to their country. We may always have to send men to war but I hope we have learned gratitude and respect for the service they render.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 4

Chapter 4

  Scruffy wanted to leave the instant he and Belle walked through the front door of the Perky Pooch Salon. Rhinestone collars and leashes lined chrome and glass shelves--definitely a girly place.
  And the smells…he tried not to breathe. It was like a mixture of antiseptic and bacon-scented cologne.
  The doorbell annoyed him. It sounded like a bunch of little fairy wind chimes. Boy dogs hate goofy scented baths, and bling, and fairies, except they might be fun to chase.
  They checked in at the front desk.
  Scruffy studied the large menu above the desk. He whispered to Belle, “This place is creepy.”
  Belle elbowed him in his ribs. “Will you stop?” She turned to the cocker spaniel behind the desk. “Two all-over body washes with blow dry and massages, please.”
  “Very good, madam.”
  “What?” Scruffy pulled away. “Boy dogs don’t get massages.”
  “You’ll love it. You’ll feel like a whole new dog.”
  Scruffy tugged at his collar again. He did not like this. He did not like this one bit!
  Belle giggled. “You’re not afraid of an itty bitty little old massage, are you?”
  “Me? I’m not afraid of anything.” Scruffy puffed out his chest and threw his head up.
  Belle turned Scruffy around and helped him find a seat in the waiting area. She sat down next to him and opened a magazine, Wags Weekly.
  Scruffy’s paws clenched the bottom of his chair. He didn’t want to go into some back room and let someone else give him a bath. His kids had a swimming pool in their back yard. He could splash around anytime he wanted.
  A large, pink poodle wearing a white lab coat came through double swinging doors. She walked up to the front desk and picked up a clipboard.
  “Belle,” she called.
  Belle set down her magazine and stood up.
  Scruffy grabbed her paw. “Don’t go, Belle. Something’s wrong. I just know it, please.”
  “Will you relax?” “I’ll be back before you know it.” She turned to follow the poodle.  
  Scruffy waited and waited. He tried looking at Belle’s magazine, but put it down. He stood up, and stretched. He paced the floor, back and forth, back and forth. He checked his watch for the one-hundredth time.
  “It’s been an hour and a half. Baths can’t possibly take that long, massage or no massage,” Scruffy thought to himself.
  He went up to the front desk and asked the receptionist, “How much longer is this going to take?”
“  Who are you waiting for, sir?”
  “Belle, the cute little beagle I came in with.”
  The receptionist scrolled down her computer screen. “I’m sorry, I don’t show any ‘Belles’ today.”
  The pink poodle in the lab coat came through the doors.
  “You, you’re the one that called Belle back for her bath over an hour ago. Where is she?”
  “Who?” She looked at the receptionist with one eyebrow raised.
  “He’s looking for his girlfriend,” the cocker spaniel said.
  “She’s not. . .I mean. . . we’re not. . .she’s not my girlfriend.” Scruffy looked from the receptionist to the poodle and back again.
  “I’m sorry, sir. She’s not here,” the Poodle said.
  “She is, and I’m not leaving without her!” Scruffy rushed for the swinging doors. He hit the doors open and ran head first into two black bulldogs. One of them was a lot bigger than him, the other smaller. Both were drooling and growling. They grabbed Scruffy up under his arms and drug him backwards out of the salon. They threw him out onto the sidewalk. The smaller bulldog’s toxic fluffies dazed Scruffy.
  “What did you eat?” Scruffy coughed. He couldn’t move.
  The bulldogs laughed and snorted. They turned back to the salon giving each other high fives.
  When Scruffy got his strength back he ran home as fast as he could. In fact, he had never run faster in his life. He’d find Trusty. Trusty would know what to do.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review of The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious
Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it? Look for brand-new BONUS material in the paperback, including a GALLERY of literary characters, a discussion guide, a behind-the-scenes look at Chris’s process, and more!

The Island of Dr. Libris
by Chris Grabenstein

This book describes the way reading should be--fun and adventurous. Certain authors have the ability to bring their stories to life. Certain readers see word images play across their
minds like a movie screen.
This was a fun book to read, though I would've liked to know
more about Dr. Libris, the mad scientist.
And just when you think the story has ended you get another surprise.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it's the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only
copy of his mysterious new game.
Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold's new game―before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I sympathized with the main character but I also thought she was a little too self-centered. She's so focused on herself that she doesn't know what it means to be a good friend. I suppose that's typical for girls this age.
The whole idea behind this book is fun and unique, bound to get kids excited about reading.
Included with the book is a website that explains the idea and how your family can participate. It's like geo-caching, only with books. It's an adventure, a treasure hunt and lots of intriguing fun.
My grandkids always get bored after the first week of summer. Little do they know what Grandma has planned.
I hope to keep it going all summer long.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 3

   Scruffy pretended to be sleeping when Belle hopped up on his porch.
   “Race you to the farm, Scruff.” She licked his face then turned and ran.
   Scruffy had some running to do to catch up. They ran all the way down Elm Street and turned the corner onto Maple. Two more blocks and they were there.
   The old farmhouse had some broken windows, some boarded up. Across from the house stood the big, faded-red barn. It leaned a little to the left, maybe because of the missing planks. It looked sort of like a grin missing some teeth. A rusty plow and the skeleton of an old tractor sat behind the barn partially buried in dried, yellowed weeds.
   “This is my favorite place to play,” Belle said.
   “Me too.” Scruffy wagged his tail. “Just like last summer.”
   They chased grasshoppers and butterflies. They chewed Johnson grass as they sat in the shade of an old oak tree. They watched ants drag half of a cricket carcass to their hill.
   Scruffy spotted a frog at the edge of a swampy mud puddle that used to be the duck pond. He snuck up behind the frog practicing his stealthy ninja moves. The frog did not jump.
    “I should be getting home. My kids will be out of school in an hour.” Belle got up and started for the fence.
   “Me too. Just one more minute.” Scruffy sniffed at the frog hoping to make it jump. He nudged it with his nose, but the frog wouldn’t move.
   “Belle, wait.” The frog jumped. Scruffy jumped.
   Belle watched him land ker-plop into that mud puddle. She laughed right out loud. “You’re funny, Scruffy.”
   He pulled himself to the edge of the puddle.
   “You look like a dinosaur trying to escape the tar pits.”
   Scruffy crawled out of the gooey slime. He stood there panting, and dripping black, stinky mud all over. Then he shook off covering Belle with the sticky stuff.
   Belle howled, “Oh Scruffy, I just had my hair done last week. Now look at me.”
   Scruffy snickered. He knew he shouldn’t have, but she looked funny, too. Scruffy raised his arms like a monster. “Grrrowl, roar.”
   Belle did not laugh. She nipped in his direction.
   “What’s the big deal? Come to my house and I’ll hose you off.”
Belle actually barked at him and stormed off. Scruffy thought she might’ve bitten him if he stood any closer to her.
   “Ok, ok, sorry.” Scruffy rolled over in front of her and wagged his tail.
   “Go away, Scruff.”
   “Don’t be mad, Belle. I didn’t mean to make you all. . . blech looking.” He shuddered at the mess.
   Belle stopped and turned around. “Do you mean that?” Her eyebrow arched.
   “Of course.” Scruffy’s tail wagged again.
   “Prove it.”
   “Take me to the Perky Pooch for a nice warm bath. We have just enough time before the kids get home.”
   “That’s not a good idea, Belle.”
   “Hmm. I thought you’d say that.” She pointed her nose in the air and trotted toward home.
   Scruffy ran ahead of Belle and turned in front of her. He got down on his two front paws wagging his tail like he wanted to play. Belle kept her head up and didn’t look at him.
   “Oh, come on Belle. I watched other dogs go in there all morning and none of them came out.”
   “We both know that was just pretend.”
   “No really. I’m telling you, something is going on there.”
   Belle folded her arms and wouldn’t budge.
   Scruffy kicked at the dirt. “Oh, alright, if it means that much too you.”
   “And you’ll get a bath too?”
   “What?” Scruffy tugged at his collar and gulped. “That wasn’t part of the deal.”
   “It is now. You’re muddier than I am, Scruff, and you smell awful.” Belle grabbed him by the paw.
   A big white truck turned into the gravel driveway and parked next to the barn. Scruffy and Belle ducked under the lodge pole fence.
   “I thought this place was abandoned.”
   “Me too.” Belle scratched at her collar. “Maybe someone is moving in.”
   “Maybe.” Scruffy made a mental note to check this out later.

Thank  you for your constructive comments!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Review of Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

Martha Speaks series
by Susan Meddaugh

Martha is a talking dog. Her family discovered that feeding her alphabet soup gives Martha the ability to speak because the letters all go to her brain instead of her stomach. They also learned that they need to feed her alphabet soup everyday
or the effect wears off.
At the end of each book is a vocabulary list of new words from the story. Kids learn all kinds of new things through Martha's eyes.
This is a fun chapter book series and it has its own PBS show.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 2


   Tall oak trees lined the street where Scruffy lived. Crunchy red and yellow leaves danced and twirled in the autumn wind. As Scruffy turned the corner onto his street he saw Belle and Trusty talking on their way to Belle’s house.
   “How did you get here so fast?” Scruffy panted. “You were downtown. I saw you. You’re not even out of breath.”
   “What are you talking about? I’ve been with Trusty all morning.”
   Trusty nodded agreement.
   Scruffy scratched at his collar. “I was so sure that was you. You were at the cafĂ© with that fancy fellow you’re always going on about.”
   “Really Scruffy, that pretend imagination of yours is getting out of control.” Belle shrugged her shoulders.
   Scruffy decided to let it drop. She must have had her reasons. It was better to change the subject. “You guys should’ve seen me in action this morning,” Scruffy said.
   “Sorry Scruff,” Belle said. “We have to get back to work.”
   “Don’t you want to hear about my latest adventures?” Scruffy jumped in front of them, walking backwards. “I stopped a bank robbery with my top secret ninja moves. I rescued four puppies from a blazing fire, then I spied on the Perky Pooch Pet Salon,” Scruffy reported.
   Trusty snickered. “What happened at the Perky Pooch?”
   Belle rolled her eyes. “Don’t encourage him,” she whispered.
   “I can’t put my paw on it, but something’s going on. Lots of dogs went in, but no one came out.”
   Belle said, “I get my nails done there all the time.”
   “I know what you’re thinking. I’m usually the one who buries waffles in the flower bed, or eats bugs, or…”
   “Chases your tail,” Trusty laughed.
   “Or barfs up the bugs.” Belle shuddered.
   “Or knocks things over.”
   “Ok, ok. I get it. Someday you’ll both believe me.”
   “We believe you, Scruff.” Trusty wagged his tail. “We’ve got to go. We’ll play with you another day, okay?”
   “You believe me, don’t you Belle?”
   “About the Perky Pooch? I don’t know—sounds like your other stories.”
   “This one is real, I can feel it.”
   “I was just there yesterday, and nothing happened.”
   “That was yesterday.”
   “Why don’t you go see what Mrs. Whiskers is up to,” Trusty said.
   Mrs. Whiskers was the old, Burmese cat that allowed Scruffy’s family to live with her.
   “Boring. She’s so lazy she won’t even drink from her own bowl. She lays on my bed and dips her paw in the water and lets it drip into her mouth.”
   “Tell you what, Scruff,” Belle said. “If you let us finish our work I’ll go with you to the farm and find something to chase like we did last summer. Deal?”
   “What is it you guys do all the time? I could help you finish, then we can play sooner.”
   “NO!” Trusty said. “I mean, it’s okay. We’ve got this.”
    “I’ll come get you the minute I’m done. Promise.” Belle crossed her heart with her paw.
   Belle and Trusty resumed their walk to Belle’s house.
   “I really could help. I’m good at some things.” Scruffy said as they disappeared behind Belle’s wooden fence.
   Scruffy scratched behind his ear. “I wonder what they’re up to. Why won’t they let me help?” He kicked up a couple of leaves.
   An interesting idea occurred to Scruffy, though he knew he shouldn’t spy on his friends. He decided to see what was more important than playing with him.
   Scruffy tippy-toed to his side of the fence and found a great knothole for his super-dooper bendable spy scope. He bent the scope this way then that way looking all over Belle’s backyard.
There they were, right next to her little blue and white doghouse, laughing. Laughing at him, maybe?
   They looked around to see if anyone was watching. The whole house tilted backward like it was on a giant hinge. When the dog house settled back down to the ground, Belle and Trusty disappeared.
   Scruffy shook his head in disbelief. What just happened? One minute they were standing right next to the doghouse; the next minute they were gone. Scruffy looked through the telescope again, but he couldn’t see them anywhere.
   This called for an investigation. Scruffy tippy-toed around the fence to Belle’s dog house. He sniffed all the way around, twice. They were definitely there. He went inside and sniffed some more. Back outside, Scruffy tried to tip the house. He pushed on all four sides, but it didn’t budge, not even a little.
   Scruffy sat down in the doorway, propping his head up with his paws. “This is most perplexing,” he thought.
   He sat and waited, and waited, maybe for an hour. Scruffy heard a mechanical sound from underneath him. “I’d better get out of here fast. If Belle catches me she’ll chew my hind leg off for real.”    
   He ran as fast as he could without making any noise. He laid down on his own front porch to catch his breath before Belle came to get him.

Thank you for your constructive comments!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review of The Crook Who Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge by Steve Brezenoff Illustrated by C B. Canga

In San Francisco on a field trip, James (Gum) Shoo and his friends get caught up in a wave of pickpocketing.

The Crook Who Crossed the
Golden Gate Bridge
Field Trip Mystery Series
by Steve Brezenoff
Illustrated by C. B. Canga

Four kids on a field trip solve a mystery while
visiting San Francisco.
The names of the four friends are throwbacks from famous detectives of the past, or their nicknames; doubtful that children would get "Gum Shoo," but it makes it fun for adults who read it.
At the end of the book is "A Detective's Dictionary" with new words from the story, the main character's written report about their field trip, "further investigations" or thought questions kids can answer in their own journals, and journal prompts that kids can write in their own "detective's notebook."
This was a fun chapter book to read.

You can find it Here