Monthly Archives: May 2013

Morse Pond Review: The Marvelous Land of Oz

9780486206929The Marvelous Land of OZ, by L. Frank Baum, is a great book if you are looking for fiction. It is a lot like the Wizard of OZ, but some of the characters are different and they have different adventures in OZ. The main characters from the Wizard of OZ are now the kings and queens of the various locations in OZ, but Dorothy has returned to Kansas. The main character is Tip, who is a happy and adventurous kid. There are good forces and evil forces. The characters are entertaining and there are things like saw horses, pumpkin heads, and witches. I recommend this book because I enjoyed the adventures of Tip and his friends.

~ Pearl, 6th grade

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Customer Review: The Time Fetch

9781616202200

The Time Fetch

Amy Herrick

Algonquin Books

$16.95

Available August, 2013

Every book has a certain magic about it, but this one had more; it basically
sizzled around its self like a magnet. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until
every word on all 307 pages had been read.

It started of a little slow, but after a few chapters it was pure fun. Every page
brought more breath-taking adventure and excitement, every page brought more
questions to my mind.

I loved the fact that something as ordinary as a rock was actually something as
abnormal as a “time fetch”, that once moved from it’s hiding place it would eat up
time! Edward’s strange philosophy — everything is just atoms, and nothing
is solid, nothing is worth caring about — confused me but also in intrigued me in a
way.

Something that was also a plus, was that the four kids in the book, Edward, Feenix,
Danton and Brigit get in to some situations in their school time that I am quite
familiar with, which meant I could feel empathy for them as the story brought
the four together.

In the beginning the four hardly even talk, but when they figure out that they
would not be able to save their world from disintegrating without one another’s
help, they hold together even at the toughest times.

There’s something for everyone in The Time Fetch, there is mystery, fantasy,
adventure, and some science. I would recommend it to anyone who likes books at all.

~ Helena, age 11

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Customer Review: The 13-Story Treehouse

9781250026903

The 13-Story Treehouse

Andy Griffiths

Terry Denton, illustrator

Feiwel & Friends, $13,99

Available now

I am reviewing the book The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. I thought the plot was very simple, but clear. Two writers are trying to finish a book on time to give to their publisher — but they keep running into situations that prevent them from doing so. I really loved the illustrations and found them very entertaining. One thing I did not like was the character development. I thought the two character did not have very distinct personalities, which made it hard to follow the story sometimes. I also thought that although the book was funny — it was too random. By the time I moved on to the next paragraph, I had forgotten what the previous paragraph was about. Overall I would probably give this story 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

~Shefali, 12

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Staff Review: The Returned

9780778315339

The Returned

Jason Mott

Mira Books, $24.95

Published in September 2013

The Returned is not a book for someone who needs all their questions answered. It is a book for someone who finds mystery and excitement in the unexplained. Jason Mott, in his debut novel, The Returned, has written an intriguing story that centers on the lives of Harold and Lucille Hargrave who decades ago lost their only child when he died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age, they have settled comfortably into life without him until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep still eight years old.

This phenomenon — people returning years later — is happening all over the world and no one knows why. Some people think of it as a miracle and some react as though the returned are an evil threat. Chaos erupts when the government tries to contain all the returned and humanity itself is challenged, what endures is the basic human instinct of faith, love, and responsibility, which plays out in Harold and Lucille’s tender and often humorous relationship.

~ Cathy V.

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Staff Review: Pleased to Meet You, Mr. NOS4A2

9780062200570Once in awhile, you read something that triggers memories that you hadn’t even realized you had forgotten.  When I read the prologue in Joe Hill’s new novel, NOS4A2 (and if you don’t get this, then you obviously don’t have a husband whose idea of a great first date was going to see Max Schrenk in the 1922 silent movie), it was the summer of 1985. I had graduated college and moved in with my boyfriend-now-husband in Pittsburgh. He was living in a seedy area in East Liberty, on the third floor of the kind of house where cooking and other smells immediately assaulted you when you opened the front door. We all had hibachis on the fire escape, and thought we were living at the height of culture. I spent that summer immersed in horror novels, something I never would have done if I’d been living by myself. To this day, Pet Sematary scares the bejesus out of me. But one of the most terrifying scenes I read came from Dracula, when Jonathan Harker and Dr. Seward open the Count’s casket and Dracula is lying there in his bed of dirt glaring up at them with vindictive eyes, which for some reason my imagination colored red. Why is something like opening up a casket so scary and so compelling at the same time?

NOS4A2 opens in the long-term care ward of a Supermax prison infirmary where the coma patients (“gorks”, according to the staff) are kept. A nurse is making her rounds, holding a bag of blood for one Charlie Manx, who “looks older than Keith Richards”, only with sharp little brown teeth. She is startled when she notices that his eyes are now open, but it’s when he grabs her wrist and starts talking about her son that the fun really begins: she drops the bag of blood which then explodes in a “crimson gush, the hot spray drenching her feet”.

Oh goody, I thought at this point: cue the shrieking violins (or Christmas carols), cause this is gonna ROCK.

In addition to being a child molester and a murderer, Charlie Manx is a vampire. He transports children in a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith that feeds on their souls using them as fuel for the journey to a place called Christmasland. Or at least he did until he was put in the hospital by one Vic McQueen, who has some interesting skills of her own. She finds things that are lost, by riding her Raleigh Tuff Burner over the Shorter Way Bridge, a derelict old bridge crossing the Merrimack River in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Only this bridge doesn’t go to the other side. The first time she crosses it she winds up in an alley in a New Hampshire burger joint.

Maggie Leigh is a stammering punk-rocker librarian in Iowa who uses Scrabble tiles to find things out and it is through Maggie that Vic becomes aware of Charlie Manx’s interest in her. Manx has a henchman named Bing Partridge who speaks in twisted little singsong rhymes that get inside your head. Bing likes to play with the mommies of the children that Manx takes to Christmasland, kind of like a cat playing with a mouse.

When Manx comes out his coma years later (well, actually, he escapes from the morgue), he’s itching for revenge, and sets his sights on Vic’s son Wayne. A mother’s love for her son is unstoppable and Vic stops at nothing to get her son back.

Joe Hill obviously attended the Dolores Umbridge School of Horror and graduated with distinction. A twisted version of Santa Claus is way more scary than straight-up Freddy Krueger, and the older I get, the less I like Christmas anyway. Loaded with rock ‘n roll, pop-culture, and literary references, NOS4A2 is often horrifyingly funny. I found it impossible to put down, and when I did, it was only to read Joe Hill’s other books, Horns and Heart-Shaped Box. It was another one of those weeks that my kids shook their heads and resigned themselves to making family dinners until I finally came up for air.

Eat your heart — uh, soul — out, Charlie Manx.


~Lysbeth

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Customer Review: Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

9780062071644

Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

Walden Pond Press, $12.99

New Release in May 2013

I liked the story because it had mystery, comedy, adventure, etc. I also like it because the characters were cool. The ending really surprised me. I would recommend this book to people who like mystery and action.

~ Derick, 3rd grade

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Screen Free Weekend

By accident, I almost made it all the way through (Personal Time) Screen Free Week. It turns out that staying screen free over the weekend was easier than anticipated, because it was incredibly busy. I’ve also noticed an unexpected benefit, which is that I seem to have slept better. *I think* that not looking at a screen for about 5-6 hours before I went to bed allowed a more solid night’s sleep and I’ve been waking up a few hours earlier each day. Overall, this experiment had pluses and minuses. I enjoyed spending more time outside and making plans with local friends and I felt a little disconnected from the friends and family who don’t live in the area. It was nice to put work away in the evenings, but I stressed constantly about not finishing all my projects. Regardless, I slept better, which means I had more time in the morning to work. I read several books (list below) and I didn’t watch any television until Sunday. After a few long days at the store, when I arrived home last night, all I wanted to do was watch a few episodes. I’ve also enjoyed the therapeutic juxtaposition of blogging about Screen Free Week. I’d say something cliché about all things in moderation, but, without these Screen Free Week restrictions, it will be interesting to observe how quickly technology habits resume. Is it necessary to go completely screen free or is it possible to simply and conscientiously restrict usage? Is technology a choice or a crutch?

Thanks to the reps over at Random House for inspiring this experiment! Did anyone else participate in Screen Free Week? Thoughts? Comments? Self-analytic confessionals?

Screen Free Week Books:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth

The Laura Line, by Chrystal Allen

Gingersnap, by Patricia Reilly Giff

True Colors, by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvatter

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Screen Free Week Day 5

IMG_2684I have had a record number of walk dates with co-workers (and one very small baby) this week. Not sure if I should credit Screen Free Week, spring, or the amazing weather, but it’s always great to get to know everyone a little better outside of work. During yesterday’s walk, I was delighted to discover an enormous rock. Other Falmouth residents are probably familiar with the big rock in Beebe Woods, but in all these years of visiting, I have never seen it before. When my family first started coming to the area, I was 4 years old. I have memories of playing on what I thought were gigantic rocks in the woods near the cottage. I went back to visit those rocks years later only to discover they were shorter than my knees. The Beebe Woods rock could not possibly disappoint lingering childhood memories. It seemed as humongous to me yesterday as it probably does to every kid who stumbles across it for the first time. I bet people all over Falmouth have stories about this particular rock. Don’t worry. I’m not asking for them.

~sara

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Screen Free Week Day 4

After day 3’s rant, I decided I really needed to turn this experiment around. I was feeling so overwhelmed with everything that I wasn’t getting done. I was starting to stress out that I might just be making everything worse for myself by testing Screen Free Week. Then something interesting happened. I had so many things to do yesterday and was worried that I might not finish all my projects by 5. Since I really do want to finish out this experiment, I ended up being motivated to sit down, focus, and get all my work done. I finished by 4:30. I then met another co-worker for a walk and we took the two dogs down to the beach.

I read an article recently about how hard it is for employees to be continually productive for 8 hours. It’s true. We all need breaks. Sometimes I feel like I work 8 hours a day but over a course of about 12 hours. I’ll stop to have a long lunch. Sometimes I’ll run errands. But I might also still be still working at 9 or 10 pm. I realized yesterday that if I sat down and kept focused, I could actually finish my work by 5 and then have the evening free. I wonder if I could do that every day, or if I was simply inspired by the novelty of this week’s experiment. The problem of course is that the (publishing) world doesn’t stop just because I do, and I find myself missing out on some of the news and conversations. But I definitely enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that I had completed my tasks for the day and that I could relax guilt-free for a few hours. I even called my mom.

~sara

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Screen Free Week Day 3

Something has gone amiss. Yesterday I had a work related meeting in the morning, worked at the store in the afternoon, then had another work meeting in the evening. By the time I got home, having had barely any time to touch base with my personal life, I had messages from my mother and one of my best friends. Surely Screen Free Week isn’t meant to keep me from connecting with friends and family. This development *has* to be in direct conflict with an event that explains, “On April 29-May 5, people around the country (and world!) will turn OFF TV, video and mobile games, and other screens they use for entertainment, and turn ON the world around them! Think, read, play, daydream, explore nature, enjoy family and friends–do all this and so much more when you spend 7 days unplugged.” First, 7 days! Arg. I was only planning to go through the end of this work week. Second, the event presumes that your family and friends are physically nearby and that technology keeps us stationary.

I move around a lot and mobile technology is perfect for helping me stay in touch with people who no longer live in the same city or country that I do. I love that my sister can send me photos of some weird thing that the dog is doing. I love sharing Cape Cod winter sunsets with friends who only ever see the summer editions. I love seeing updates or getting texts from friends around the world that I haven’t seen in a few years and probably won’t for a few more. I’m not ready to give up on Screen Free Week just yet, because it has inspired me to stop working earlier each day and get outside a bit more. It’s been a beautiful week, and I’ve made connections with more people who live nearby. And sure, I’ve read a few books (finished The Laura Line and just started The Scorpio Races). But I seriously contest this notion that unplugging brings you closer to friends and family. Such a thing might have been true when being plugged in meant actually having to stay physically close to a power source. Or when technology wasn’t social in the way it is now. The reason I really appreciate mobile technology is that I now feel like I can go anywhere and, yes, turn ON the world, while still being connected with everyone (near and far) that matters to me.

~sara