Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

Lizard Music is another hilarious book by Daniel Pinkwater.  This one is about a boy named Victor from a town called McDonaldsville.  Victor’s parents are away on vacation and his older sister is out camping even though she is supposed to be looking after him.  Since his parents are away, he can watch television late at night.  One night, something strange happens.  The television begins to show lizards performing jazz music.  This is mysterious because nothing about lizards appears in the television guide.

Victor later finds a man known as “The Chicken Man,” with a trained chicken named Claudia who helps Victor discover where the lizards come from.  They set off for a place called Invisible Island.  This is where the lizards broadcast their own television channel.  Their island has been drifting toward Victor’s hometown, and the weather is just right for Victor’s television to pick up their signal.

I enjoy reading about Victor’s wacky tour through the island.  For example, he is introduced to the House of Plants.  The house has a tree called the Truth Tree, which shakes its leaves and emits a loud noise whenever someone is telling a lie nearby.  Victor also enters the House of Memory.  In this house, whatever Victor thinks about appears in the room.

This book is a favorite of mine because of its quirky and random humor.  Daniel Pinkwater is a very unique author but I think his books can appeal to a wide audience, as long as you are not looking for a serious read.

-Oliver H. 

Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is a short book of just over one hundred pages.  This is a very funny and quirky book written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by his wife, Jill Pinkwater.

The story is about a giant chicken named Henrietta.  Henrietta is over six-feet tall and weighs 266 pounds.  A young boy named Arthur Bobowicz buys Henrietta while desperately searching for a turkey to eat with his family on Thanksgiving.  Arthur’s family ends up eating meatloaf instead, so his father allows him to keep the colossal bird.

Arthur and Henrietta get along just fine, until Henrietta runs away and causes terror and confusion throughout the city of Hoboken.  The people are shocked to see such a large bird roaming the streets.  They make various attempts to get rid of the bird until finally someone comes up with an idea to put an end to the crisis.

Daniel Pinkwater’s books are all very ridiculous and funny, and this one is no exception.  He has also written two sequels to this book, entitled: Looking for Bobowicz and The Artsy Smartsy Club.  These books are about a group of children living many years after the events of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.  I enjoyed the sequels very much as well.

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is quite absurd but enjoyable to read.  I would recommend this book to anyone in the mood for a good laugh.

-Oliver H. 

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

TV Show Review: Seinfeld

I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Seinfeld so far, but I’m greatly enjoying the show.

Jerry Seinfeld, the main character, is a stand-up comedian who lives in New York. Many of his performances are inspired by events or people in the show, and we get to see these performances at the beginning, middle, and end of each episode. The three other main characters are George, Elaine, and Kramer, who lives in the same apartment complex as Jerry and frequently pays him visits. Jerry and his friends are always making comments about the strange habits of humans no one else seems to address.

Since the show takes place in ’90s New York, it’s interesting to see the difference in style in terms of hair, technology, clothing, and more.

What I like about the show is that it’s very light-hearted and entertaining. There’s no real plot to the series, but that’s what makes it fun. For instance, the entirety of one episode takes place in a restaurant. However, it’s far from boring. The characters and the jokes keep the audience interested and amused.

Though the show might seem similar to Friends since both shows include single characters living in New York, the differences in characters, story, and humor set them apart from each other. Unlike Seinfeld, Friends has a more complex plot and I think the characters have more complicated relationships with each other (although, as I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Seinfeld, this might change). However, I still enjoy both shows!

I would suggest the show to fans of Friends and The Office, or anyone looking for a TV series that is light-hearted and comforting.

– Mia T.

Authors We Love: Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is the author of many fictional books for children.  Most of his books were illustrated by Quentin Blake.  I have always enjoyed these books as well as the illustrations.  Dahl uses very inventive language, including interesting words such as “gnazzle,” “knid” and “snozzcumber.”  His books are very funny and full of entertaining nonsense.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about a boy named Charlie who lives in a small home with his poor family.  Willy Wonka, the owner of a famous chocolate factory, announces that five lucky children will be invited to tour his factory.  The children would be selected by finding one of five golden tickets hidden inside the wrappers of chocolate bars.  By sheer luck, Charlie receives one of the five golden tickets.  As the story unfolds, we discover the wild and zany rooms in Willy Wonka’s factory, and finally we learn the real reason why Mr. Wonka invited the children to his factory.

The BFG tells of a little girl named Sophie who lives in an orphanage.  Sophie is captured by a twenty-four-feet-tall giant, who takes her to a cave in a faraway land called “Giant Country.”  There she learns that the giant’s name is the “Big Friendly Giant,” or the “BFG,” for short.  The BFG is actually the runt of nine other giants, who are about fifty feet tall and are very wicked, unlike the BFG.  The other nine giants like to gallop off to different countries to gobble up about two to six people at a time.  Sophie and the BFG come up with a plan to put a stop to the other giants’ evil deeds.

In Matilda, a girl named Matilda learns how to read at a very young age, but her parents mistreat her and hardly even notice her talents.  When she starts school, Matilda encounters the giant, nasty headmistress named Miss Trunchbull.  The headmistress terrorizes the entire school until Matilda discovers special powers within herself.  This is my favorite of Roald Dahl’s books because of the charming characters and wonderful story.

Most of Roald Dahl’s books are about ordinary children who discover extraordinary things.  Dahl usually includes fantastical characters, such as man-sized insects and little people known as “Oompa Loompas.”  It is for good reason that his books are very popular and are considered classics for young readers.  I highly recommend these books to people of all ages.

-Oliver H.

The works of Roald Dahl are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

I just finished The Meltdown,the 13th book in the Diary of a Wimpy kid series, and I really enjoyed it. I liked The Diary Of a Wimpy kid series as a whole, I own the whole series and when I found out a new book was coming out I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. Sometimes I wonder how it would be living in a colder place where it snowed like where Greg Heffley lived, as I live in California. This book really portrayed the pros and cons of it. I found interest in the neighborhood feud and Greg’s point of view on snowy and hot weather. Also how he deals with it. “I don’t know which is worse, a planet that’s too HOT or one that’s too COLD” (Kinney, 53)

I really appreciate Jeff Kinney’s books and how I can relate to Greg, as he is also going through middle school. Like when he forgot to do his project and has to compromise. Greg’s life gives an interesting twist on middle schoolers while still being very relatable and enjoyable to read. “Speaking of SURVIVAL, right now, I’m just trying to get through middle school”( Kinney, 9)

I really love the whole series and love how it keeps me so interested even after so many years. I can always count on it to put a smile on my face. I really enjoy Kinney’s writing style and how amusing his stories are. Can’t wait for the next book!

-Rudy H.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

Whenever a new Diary of Wimpy Kid comes out, I am super excited to get and to read it. This one did not fail to disappoint me, I ended up finishing this book in a day! Jeff Kinney/Greg Heffley does a good job fluently jumping from subject to subject. When you start reading the beginning of the book, Greg talks about the wacky weather in winter, then he talks about his school about 10 pages later. Jeff Kinney makes these transitions so natural, so you will barely notice it.

Another great thing about this book is you  don’t have to read the books before it to understand what is going on. You can get this book, which is book 13, and not have read the other books in the series and you won’t get confused! This book keeps many of the original characters from the first book, but there are many side characters in the book, but I don’t want to spoil anymore. Personally, this was one of my favorite Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. My sister thought that Jeff Kinney was running out of ideas, but disagree. I think there could be many more books. But known shall be greater than this one. Thanks for reading this review.

-Brandon D.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Meltdown by Jeff Kinney is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Image result for the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starts off on a normal Thursday – until, of course, a repulsive alien race arrives with the intention of destroying the entire Earth in order to construct a new galactic bypass.

Seconds before Arthur Dent is vaporized along with the entirety of his planet, he is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be saved by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which is exactly what it sounds like), and who has been stranded on Earth for the past fifteen years.

As Arthur and Ford travel throughout the galaxy, they team up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, slightly insane president of the galaxy; Trillian (Zaphod’s girlfriend), the only other human being left in the galaxy; and Marvin the Paranoid Android, an extremely intelligent but extremely depressed robot.

Together, this unorthodox crew will travel across the galaxy in search of the universal question of life as well as the answer to the question no one cares about. They will face indescribable horrors in the form of Vogon poetry and two white mice; they will almost die, then improbably survive, then almost die again; but above all, they will remember the mantra of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is an extremely entertaining novel that truly combines humor and science-fiction into one unforgettable book. Adams makes up for a lack of plot with an overabundance of satire and hilarity that will leave the reader racing from cover to cover faster than they can say ‘Magrathea.’ Fans of science fiction, humor, or reading in general will immediately fall in love with this prime example of imaginative fiction.  

-Mahak M.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free to download from Overdrive

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements

Lunch Money is the story of Greg Kenton’s comic book business in middle school. Ever since he was a kid, Greg has liked making money and having money. He mows lawns, shovels snow, and walks dogs for money. When Greg finishes fourth grade, his dad tells him to put his money into a bank where he’ll earn interest. Then, in fifth grade, Greg forgets his lunch. A school lunch is two dollars and he only has one dollar and fifty cents. He asks his teacher if he can borrow fifty cents but she says no. Then the teacher asks the class if anyone has an extra fifty cents that Greg could borrow. Most of the class raise their hands and Greg realizes something. He calculates that around a hundred dollars in extra money comes into the school every week. Greg then makes a plan to sell candy and gum. However he soon stops because the students take the candy and gum into classrooms which is against the rules and could get Greg in trouble. Instead of flat out stopping, Greg starts selling toys, but soon the kids get tired of the toys. Greg then also stops selling toys right around the end of fifth grade, but he has an idea. By the start of sixth grade, Greg has multiple handmade comics that he’s ready to sell. He chooses comics because they’re like books and teachers love books. He names his comics Creon: Return of the Hunter. However, like always, his neighbor Maura Shaw copies his idea and also starts making her own comics. This leads to a big fight between the two. Eventually the two come together to make comics. The principle soon finds out and tells them that nothing is allowed to be sold at the school. In response, Maura and Greg go to a city council to argue the school’s decision. The compromise they come to is that Maura and Greg get to make a store in school for their comics, but the school gets 10% of their sales. The council agrees and the comics continue to be made.

-Emilio V.

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is probably one of my favorite series, but Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway made it official. This book is like all the other books times two. It shows the Heffley’s true nature as a clumsy, ridiculous, frazzled family. It is similar to The Long Haul, but different at the same time. The book also features some new, funny characters that increase the humor in the book a lot! This book also has a lot more interesting twists and turns than 1-9.

One thing that makes this book interesting for me is that it does not take place in Greg’s town at all. Most of the books feature Greg in his hometown, so this book helped mix it up a bit. Most of the characters the other books generate are not that likable or funny, their main purpose is to be stupid. But the characters this book makes, are always funny! Another good aspect of the story is setup. The book gives us a nice back round story on how Greg and his family get into this trip. This is a very good book overall, and I recommend you get it.

Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

In the wake of the unrelenting movements spanning across the globe on gender equality, an achingly honest account on the female experience rises from contemporary beginnings. Leni Zumas masterfully crafts together a mosaic of triumph and misery through the lives of five women:

  • A desperate list-making biographer whose anguish feeds her fire
  • A student brighter than the sun, knee-deep in an undesirable predicament
  • An exhausted wife/mother, carrying in her hands her breaking marriage
  • An arrested mystic guided by her own lunacy
  • And finally, an unacknowledged polar explorer of the nineteenth century.

In brash, burning, and heartrending prose, Zumas teaches us the interconnectedness of one life to another and the vibrancy of hope in tumultuous times. Set in a United States where abortion is banned and IVF illegal, Red Clocks is a novel of forward thinking and revolution. It’s witty and full of relatable quips – a reflection of life’s pitfalls and mountains and written with the hand of a skilled writer.

Zumas writes inside the heads of her characters – each sentence a gunshot ringing clear in the minds of the protagonists. Each woman wielding her own flaws, dreams, and faulty beauty, the reader gains a true and sometimes alarming insight into their lives. The novel is incandescent with the fire of the strange, sparking with the light of life.

Ultimately, through pain and reward, the women of Red Clocks learn their own lessons in the novel’s revelation. While its mature themes are not for everyone, there are countless aspects to love in Zumas’ political, hilarious, and gorgeous testimony to the horrors and beauty of a woman’s life.

-Esther H.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library