All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

One of my favorite books by far, Jara Dairman did an excellent job on her amazing book, All Four Stars. Jara’s spectacular book is about a young chef named Gladys. Gladys is a near perfect chef except for one thing, she is not allowed to cook. After a… misfortunate incident with a blowtorch, crème brûlée and her family’s curtains, her parents banned her from the kitchen. In this beautiful book, we follow Gladys as she adventures through life without cooking, trying to survive the 6th grade, making new friends and even writing gourmet reviews for New York’s most important newspaper, the New York Standard.

The mouth watering descriptions of food and spunky personalities in this book get people off the couch to make fancy pastries and leave us erupting in fits of laughter. With each chapter I felt more and more connected to Gladys up to the point I read a sentence in first person on accident! In conclusion, All Four Stars is a spectacular book that should be in every young chefs, or food lovers, hands. Don’t forget to read the rest in this marvelous series.

-Isa M.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Wax by Gina Damico

This was an interesting read. Not one of my favorites. It had a good concept and plot but I got very confused while reading it. I was also confused on the bad guy in the story, the back story was a bit confusing to follow and it would jump from one scene to the next without a nice flow. However, I may be partially biased because I didn’t like the personalities of Dud. I just thought it was a bit ridiculous. But to give this book the benefit of the doubt, I need to read it when I’m more in the mood for a teen thriller.

I haven’t read anything else by this author so maybe I just didn’t like this book and some of her other works would be more my taste. I plan to reread this book in a year or two and hopefully my perspective has changed by then to something more open-minded than this review. Overall, I would only recommend this book to someone who is okay with crazy twists that don’t entirely follow the story or feel that they contradict the backstory already. Hopefully this isn’t too harsh, just an opinion on a book I read a while ago.

-Coralie D.

Wax by Gina Damico is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater, is a Newberry Honor award-winning book.  The story is about a man named Mr. Popper.  Mr. Popper is a house painter, and he does not earn much money to support his small family.  He lives in a place called Stillwater, and he has never traveled anywhere else.  However, he loves to read books about exploration to the Arctic or Antarctic regions of the world.  He is especially fascinated by the Antarctic, because he loves to read about penguins.

One day, Mr. Popper receives a pleasant surprise.  He receives a package from Antarctica.  The package contains a real penguin.  This leads to a series of events that will change Mr. Popper’s life.

The story is quite humorous and amusing.  My favorite character is Captain Cook.  Captain Cook is the name of the penguin that first arrives at Mr. Popper’s house.  The penguin is funny in the way he inspects the Poppers’ house and gets into mischief.  Mr. Popper tries to put Captain Cook on a leash to go on a walk, but this leads to all kinds of trouble.  Another problem is trying to find a place for Captain Cook to sleep.  Mr. Popper tries to keep the penguin in an ice cooler, but eventually other penguins arrive at the Poppers’ house, so they need to figure out a way to take care of lots of penguins.  They try opening all the windows to cool down the temperature, but then a blizzard passes through and the inside of the house gets covered in snow and ice.  Finally, Mr. Popper comes up with an idea to raise money to support the penguins, by training them to become stage performers.

In a way this is a silly story, but I thought it was very enjoyable.  This might actually be one of my favorite books right now.  I think it is very well written and highly entertaining.  I would recommend this book to anyone.

-Simon H.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Rich People Problems is the third and final book of the series Crazy Rich Asians, which looks at the powerful families of Singapore and their insane shenanigans. Rich People Problems takes place two years after the evens of ‘China Rich Girlfriend’, and Nick and Rachel are happily married and living in Manhattan, when Nick gets a call from his mother, Eleanor Young, that his grandmother, Su Yi is in the hospital from a heart attack and that Nick should come and make up with her before she dies. Nick, after being estranged from her for years after Su Yi refused to let him marry Rachel, feels guilty and decides to see after encouragement from Rachel. Meanwhile, the entire Shang-Young clan goes out to visit Su Yi to get in her good graces and hopefully be put in her will. Eddie Chang, who believes that he has a shot of inheriting Tyersall Park, Su Yi’s home, refuses to let Nick see their grandmother, in fear that Su Yi will change it again. Meanwhile, Astrid Leong, Nick’s beloved cousin, is re-engaged to Charlie Wu, while facing roadblocks such as her scorned ex-husband, Michael Teo, and Charlie’s ex-wife, Isabel.

Rich People Problems is hilarious, and probably my favorite out of the trilogy, seeing the entire clan pay attention to Su Yi only when they want her money. The ending is unpredictable, and the different characters and personalities make it an extremely interesting read. I highly recommend reading Rich People Problems for those who like realistic fiction and humor.

-Kelsie W

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

The Inimitable Jeeves (also published as Jeeves) by P. G. Wodehouse is one of a series of books set around the 1920s, about a good-natured aristocrat named Bertie Wooster and his trusty valet, Jeeves.  Each chapter is a short episode in the life of Wooster, as he manages to get himself into all kinds of challenging predicaments.  Wooster is well-meaning and thinks he can manage problems on his own, but usually his ideas end in disaster.  Jeeves is very civil and highly intelligent, so he always finds a way to solve Wooster’s problems.  The stories are hilarious and I enjoyed this book immensely.

I especially liked a chapter in which Wooster tries to help a friend named Bingo Little.  Bingo is in love with a lady named Honoria Glossop.  Honoria has a little brother named Oswald.  Wooster’s idea is to shove Oswald off a bridge so that Bingo can dive into the lake and rescue the boy, to win the heart of Honoria.  When the time comes to execute the plan, Bingo suddenly decides that he no longer loves Honoria, so Wooster must attempt to save Oswald himself.  As a result, Honoria falls in love with Wooster instead of Bingo.  Jeeves comes to the rescue by triggering a series of events that cause Honoria’s parents to become very angry at Wooster.  The Glossops forbid their marriage and Wooster is saved from an unhappy union.

I also enjoyed reading about Wooster’s aunt, Agatha.  She is described as having a beaked nose and mostly grey hair.  She is very refined and proper, so she disapproves of Wooster’s lazy habits.  Aunt Agatha is always trying to convince Wooster to get married and to do something useful in his life.  She becomes very aggressive toward Wooster, from his perspective.  Wooster sometimes describes her metaphorically as “coming at him with a hatchet” or “polishing her hatchet at this very moment.”  Their interactions are always very amusing.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book as well as the other Jeeves books that I have read.  Jeeves’ refined use of the English language is delightful to read.  I am always amused at Jeeves’ calm and gentlemanly demeanor even as Wooster gets into ridiculous situations.  No matter what happens, Jeeves politely addresses Wooster as “sir” and finds a clever way to get him out of trouble.  This book is a delight to read and I hope to someday read all of the Wodehouse books.

The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

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.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels (Classic Starts Series) by Jonathan Swift, Jamel Akib,  Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Gulliver’s Travels has not only a profound ideological content, but also a relatively perfect art form. First of all, Swift used fictional plots and fantasy techniques to depict the reality of Britain at that time. At the same time, he also created a colorful, fairy-tale fantasy world based on the reality of Britain at that time. Swift’s fantasy world is based on reality, while the contradiction of reality is more prominent in the fantasy world. After the coup d ‘etat of 1688, for example, the Tories and the Whigs fought for power and attacked each other, when in fact they both represented the interests of the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. Swift captured the essential characteristics of parliamentary party fighting and created the high-heel party and low-heel party in Lilliput.

These fictions make reality stronger, more concentrated, more typical, and more universal. The artistic charm of Gulliver’s Travels is also here. Swift’s fantasy and reality are harmonious and unified. Swift’s fantasy and reality are harmonious and unified, and Gulliver’s experiences are different in Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and Houyhnhnm. But they were all reasonably arranged without any flaws. Every time he went to a fantasy country, he was treated differently. He made his works have a sense of artistic reality, which has a great appeal, so that satire can achieve a high effect. When the author mercilessly satirizes and criticizes the parliamentary politics and reactionary religious forces in Britain at that time, some of them are straight sarcasm, some use the tongue of foreigners, some are metaphorical sarcasm, some are animal sarcasm, all of which are funny.

The combination of fantasy and reality also adds a unique artistic charm to the novel. Although the author presents a mythical world like a fairy tale, it is based on the reality of social life in Britain at that time. Due to the author’s precise, delicate and apt description, people can not feel that it is a fantasy, as if everything is true. For example, when describing the proportional relationship between small people and adults, and between people and things, the ratio of one to twelve is always reduced or enlarged. The little man of Lilliput is twelve times smaller than Gulliver. And the lords of the Brobdingnag were twelve times larger than Gulliver. One of Gulliver’s handkerchiefs would be a carpet for the Lilliput Palace. Brobdingnag’s peasant’s wife’s handkerchief, draped over Gulliver, became a sheet.

In describing the operation of the flying island of Laputa, the architecture of palaces, and the structure of towns, the author also intentionally uses the knowledge and data of mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and medicine. In this way, the authenticity, harmony and symmetry of the partial details of the characters are transformed into the reality, harmony and unity of the whole picture and scene, which greatly enhances the sense of reality and appeal of the work. The author’s writing is simple and succinct. In Lilliput, for example, Gulliver transcribes an official proclamation extolling the king as the king of kings, with his feet at the center of the earth and the sun above his head, etc. Gulliver, in brackets, calmly explained that the perimeter was about twelve miles.

With this explanation, the boundless territory that reached the four poles of the earth shrank abruptly to a mere dozen leagues around it. The contrast is hilarious. The words in parentheses reveal the author’s simple and matter-of-fact style, which he does not seem to be commenting on, but rather to explain to us objectively and faithfully the scale of Lilliput. Although the scenes of Lilliput and The Land of The Houyhnhnms vary, as do the circumstances of the heroes, the layout and style of the whole novel are consistent. Every time Gulliver went to sea, the causes and consequences are explained in detail, the complicated plot is described in order of time and space, the text is concise and vivid, and the story is unique.