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Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
November 23, 2008

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC.


Teachers, Comedy, and Children's Books for Christmas

The students at Eastern Guilford High School have gone through a lot in the past few years. After the building burned down, they were shuttled to and from temporary buildings and the Guilford Tech campus a few miles down the road. Now they're looking at the new building reaching completion in April -- a month before this year's seniors graduate.

But that doesn't mean you can't get a terrific educational experience there. And a few days ago I had the chance to see a select group receiving exactly that.

Hal Bryant's jazz band meets during zero period each day -- that's right, the period before first period. Starting at 7:45, somehow they manage to swing.

What I saw, though, was an after-school rehearsal the day before their performance last Friday.

It's remarkable enough for a high school to have a jazz band. What a bonus that they're actually good.

Good, but still learning. The piece they were playing when I came in felt a little ragged, though I couldn't have put my finger on why. Then Mr. Bryant talked to the drummer about holding back the tempo; the piece needed to have a kind of rolling, lazy feeling to it, and Bryant talked and scatted his way through a demonstration of what he wanted the beat to be.

The next time through, everything changed. I would never have known the problem was in the tempo, but as soon as it was right -- or closer to it -- everything came together. Suddenly the tune made sense.

As I watched the rehearsal, I realized that these kids were working. Mr. Bryant never wasted their time -- everything he said (including a lecture on the importance of keeping mouthpieces warm during outdoor performances in sub-freezing weather) mattered, and when they followed his suggestions, they got better.

They followed his suggestions.

Anybody who has worked with high school students knows that this is not a common occurrence. Especially when dealing with a bunch of kids who have musical instruments that can easily drown out every word the teacher says.

And they are still kids -- there was plenty of noodling on their instruments whenever he stopped them.

So he had to yell at them sometimes to be quiet. Except for one thing. He didn't yell.

Incredibly enough, Bryant's equivalent of yelling was to make no sound whatsoever. He simply looked at the offending player and mouthed his request for silence. The result? Silence.

You want to know how a teacher wins such complete respect from a bunch of creative kids? And I mean tired kids after a long day at school?

They know that when they do what he says, they get better. How do they know? When he gives suggestions to other players, they can hear for themselves that they improve. He doesn't say "wonderful" unless it's wonderful. In fact, what I most commonly heard him say was "better" -- but only when it really was better.

This doesn't happen in every class, or even in every school, because -- let's face it -- not every teacher really knows his subject, and not every teacher who knows his subject is good at communicating it.

Mr. Bryant holds his students to high standards. No excuses -- either it sounds good or it doesn't, and he expects them to get it right. When they do, they sound great -- and they want to sound great.

The result is that instead of Bryant battling his students, trying to squeeze some kind of interest or improvement out of them, this jazz band -- admittedly an elite group to start with -- collaborate with him. They share a common purpose, and so they get results.

Because I was reading A Nation of Wimps at the time -- an interesting book on "The High Cost of Invasive Parenting" (I'll review it after I've finished it) -- I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like if all these players' parents had been sitting around the room, waiting to "protect" their child from the teacher.

"Mr. Bryant, why did you single my child out for criticism?"

Well, because he was the one entering a measure early.

"Doesn't it occur to you that your expectations are unreasonable?"

Everybody else entered at the right measure.

"How is he going to get a music scholarship to college if you damage his self-esteem by surrounding him with a climate of hostility and criticism?"

He'll get self-esteem the old-fashioned way -- listening to criticism and learning how to do it right. By earning it.

"Let's see whether you still feel cocky about this oppressive learning environment after I talk to the principal about it."

Of course that's dumb. When it comes to art, as with athletics, the degree of achievement can't be fudged. Either you can hack it or you can't. No number of parent-teacher conferences can turn a clumsy player into a good one -- whether in the basketball court or the concert hall.

Instead, the player has to work hard to achieve the best that's within his reach. And ... shocking as this may sound ... even after all the hard work in the world, some kids will still not be as good as other kids whose natural talent makes it so they achieve effortlessly what remains out of reach to others.

That's how the world works. But when you have a terrific teacher and you're in an ensemble that sounds good when it performs, it's ok not to be the star of the team. You still get pleasure from doing your own part as well as you can. You still earn legitimate pride from working hard and learning how to get hard things right ... earning, along the way, a "better" from a teacher you respect.

Oh, did I also mention that everybody in the room seemed to like each other? It was a happy environment. Nobody throwing tantrums -- none of that silly stuff that they let famous artists get away with. Everybody had a professional attitude -- or at least as professional as you can reasonably hope for at the end of a long high school day.

I'm glad a couple of my friends who play in the band invited me. It made me jealous, though. I did not have Mr. Bryant, or anyone like him, in my high school band experience. Which may be why I set aside my tuba and my French horn after sophomore year and never looked back. It stopped being a pleasure to play.

*

Whenever I'm going on a trip my wife provides me with a lifeline, in the form of an itinerary of travel and events I'm supposed to attend. For years she's been putting them in the perfect container -- a plastic folder from Century Business Solutions. The back cover is stiff, solid plastic; the front is clear. It's open on the top and the right side, with a thumb notch, so that papers can be slid in and out easily.

But it holds the papers tightly enough that I've never had full-size sheets slip out. (Even small papers, like business cards, only slide out if you hold the thing carelessly.)

These "Paperwork Arrangers" have become so indispensable that we were both dismayed when she couldn't find them on the Century website.

Why would they discontinue such a useful product? Not that we bought that many -- they hold up so well we keep reusing them, which means we weren't giving them enough repeat business.

The closest product we could find on the Century website was the "ultra-bright vinyl envelope," which was floppy, opened on only one side, and was nearly impossible to see through.

So at that point my wife had no choice but to go in search of a replacement from some other company.

Levenger and Jeffco both had similar products -- plastic envelopes open only on the right side, with a stiff solid back and a clear front. Leventer calls theirs a "briefcase folder"; Jeffco's is a "full cut tab file jacket with frost clear front."

The thumb notch on both is bigger than the Century paperwork arranger's, and both are designed so that the folder is loose enough that you can slide things out fairly easily -- though not as easily as we were used to. With only one side open, the sides of the paper are bound to snag a bit pulling it out.

Since I often have to get papers out of my itinerary folders while standing at a kiosk or a counter, holding a couple of bags and in a hurry to catch a flight, snagging at all is a real drawback. But what choice did I have?

The Levenger folder feels and looks better, and it has two spaces, front and back. But the clear plastic is so frosted it's markedly harder to read through, making the Jeffco file jacket better for our purposes.

My wife was just about to place an order at the Jeffco site when she decided to give Century Business Solutions one more try. Lo! the very product we'd been buying for years was still there after all -- it was simply hard to guess how to find it on a not-terribly-clear website.

This is why my wife is well known to be much smarter than me. I would have thought to look again at the original site only after placing a large and expensive order at the other company, waiting for it to arrive, and opening the package. Then the better product would have leapt off the screen and shouted at me about how obvious it was and only an idiot would have missed it.

If you carry a briefcase or a computer bag -- something with room enough for an 9x12 envelope -- and you need to have an itinerary you can get to easily, read through the cover, and remove things from quickly when you need to, there is simply no better product, in my opinion, than the Century paperwork arranger; but if that doesn't work for you, by all means give the Jeffco "file jacket with frost clear front" a try.

Century paperwork arranger

Jeffco file jacket

Levenger briefcase folder

*

"Sing a Song of Sixpence" may be a silly children's song, but when John Rutter's choir performs it, it's a marvel of musical humor and inventiveness. If you don't know the music of John Rutter, you really ought to try -- well, anything -- but a good start is the CD The John Rutter Collection.

Especially in the Christmas season, it's worth hearing "Angel's Carol" and "Shepherd's Pipe Carol," which are part of my definition of Christmas now. But the whole disc is a revelation about what a choir can be brought to do, given the right voices, the right arrangements, and the right conductor.

Rutter won't make you forget conductor Robert Shaw -- but he brings something beautiful and moving to every song he records.

And if you want to sample just a few of his pieces, go to Amazon and search for the John Rutter Christmas Album. You can download individual .mp3s, without any nonsense about digital-rights-management, for 89 cents each. Try his versions of familiar carols, or go straight to one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written, Rutter's own composition "Candlelight Carol."

I dare you to hear that cut and not want the whole album.

*

The comedy DVD Bananas advertises itself as "good clean fun" and "Appeeling [sic] Comedy for the Whole Family." It even has a little icon saying "As seen on TV," so you'll know that this comedy actually made the Big Time.

If punning the word "appealing" with "peel" (as in "banana peel") is a sample of the level of comedy, this DVD might as well have put "incompetent amateur" on the cover.

In some ways, what's inside is even worse: "guest host" Chonda Pierce and much of the surrounding material is so smugly Christian that it makes me cringe and shrink from the screen, saying (or thinking), "You really said that?"

I get the same reaction from gay comics whose "humor" consists of being smug about how "inside" and cool the comic and the gay audience are, compared to those who don't belong.

Some black comics are that way about being black, and some Jewish comics about being Jewish. Only Jewish and black comics have had a lot more experience with it, as a culture, so even that "inside" elbow-nudging stuff is often funny.

But whether it's well done or clumsy, it's always exclusive and self-congratulatory. And when it's clumsy, it's unintentionally ironic, because it demonstrates how little there is to self-congratulate about.

Can't there be Christian comedy? Of course. But it won't be funny until it stops defining itself by what it's not. When the biggest selling point of a comedy DVD is that it's not dirty and that the whole family can watch, it leaves me with the feeling that the DVD contains what's left over after all the dirty bits are taken out. Basically, the floor sweepings of comedy.

Here's the sad thing. Thor Ramsey, the comic whose work is showcased on this DVD, is actually talented and funny. You don't laugh at his cleanness, you just laugh at his jokes. He doesn't spend his time congratulating himself and his audience about being better and cleaner and more godly than the pagans who go to Chris Rock and Dennis Miller performances.

Here's a clue to would-be Christian comics. Sure, you might be scrupulously clean in your comedy, but that's not a point you yourself should be promoting. Does Jerry Seinfeld promote himself as "the clean alternative"? He doesn't work blue, but that's not the selling point: The selling point is that he's smart and funny, so you not only laugh, you also get smarter while you listen to him.

When you stress that your act is "for the whole family," the unspoken phrase "at least" is always tacked on to the front. This act may not be as funny as others, but at least it's for the whole family.

So, oddly enough, I do give a passing grade to the DVD -- because Thor Ramsey himself (but none of the surrounding material) is worth paying some attention to. The guy has talent.

It's just a shame that he has so little faith in his own skill and his own material that he allows himself to be packaged in such an apologetic-yet-boastful way.

Don't shrink your audience, Mr. Ramsey, by surrounding yourself with markers of smugness and apology. Just do your act. People will notice that you're clean. If you joke about it, they'll even notice that you're Christian.

But if you put in bits that drive away non-Christians, as well as Christians who don't like the tacky "God-talk" of Evangelical television preachers, what are you accomplishing? Isn't the point of being Evangelical that you reach out, as Jesus did, to the publicans and sinners?

Be clean and Christian in your comedy -- but leave the door open for everyone to enter. Then, if you're very very good, you might even elevate their taste and make them cringe and shrink, not from you, but from the comics who can't get a laugh without a dirty joke or an f-word.

*

It's easy to find Christmas gifts for the kids who live with you.

OK, maybe not easy -- budget can constrain you from pleasing a teenager who only wants a car or the nine-year-old who only wants a horse; allergies might keep you from properly gifting the kid who wants a dog or a cat.

(If only kids wanted goats for Christmas, at least you could keep the lawn mowed.)

But at least you know what they already have and the kind of thing they're likely to like.

What if you're a grandparent or an uncle or aunt, and the kids you're buying presents for are absent? Sure, you see them once or twice a year, or even once a month -- but because you don't live with them, it's hard to guess what might please them.

When I was growing up, my dad's parents gave us all new pajamas every Christmas. Yeah, it wasn't the most thrilling present under the tree -- but we were all growing and we needed the jammies. And when we wore them, we thought of Nana Lu and Grandpa.

Many other grandparents give money -- but to me that seems like giving up. Though I have to say, I remember very much as a child that gifts of a dollar or -- was it even possible? -- five dollars were greatly appreciated. It meant a trip to the toy or hobby store to buy something that I could never have afforded with my allowance alone.

Inflation has hit -- a dollar was worth something when I was a kid, but now you can't buy anything with much less than a five. (Remember: When I was a kid, a Milky Way or Three Musketeers cost a nickel; single-size Tootsie Rolls were a penny. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time there really was penny candy.)

So I don't reject the cash option out of hand.

If you want to give something rather than a shopping trip, you have to start asking the parents for ideas. And that's fine. Find out about the kid.

So let's say you find out that a particular grandchild or niece or nephew is a reader; what then? You know the age and gender of the child. The parents have told you roughly what reading level he or she is at: picture books, chapter books, children's or young adult books.

Remember that while girls will usually read books with boy heroes, few boys will ever touch books about girls -- even swashbuckling pirate girls. It's sad but true.

(There are exceptions. When I was a kid, I made few distinctions like that, because basically I read books the way those leaf-sucking trucks that drive along the streets in the autumn suck leaves. If it was there, I read it, leaving my eye-tracks on anything with letters on it.)

But you're still left with the quandary: How can you tell which books a kid will think are good?

The short answer is: You can't. From the earliest years of being read to by Mommy or Daddy, kids have their own tastes and differ from each other on many of their favorites.

But the long answer is: You can improve your odds of giving a book that kids of that age will love by (a) asking people who have kids that age and sex what their kids love, or (b) reading reviews and lists of highly recommended children's books.

Or you can ask a friend or relative who is an expert on children's books. For instance, I have one librarian friend who has been a judge on the committees that choose the Caldecott and other awards in children's literature. We have long taken her recommendations seriously. And no, I won't tell you her name. You have to make your own librarian friends.

I also pay close attention to what my sister, Janice Card, says -- because she has worked for many years as the children's-book buyer for the Brigham Young University Bookstore.

Most college bookstores are repositories for textbooks and souvenirs bearing the college logo. The BYU Bookstore is all of that -- but it also has a selection of adult and children's books rivaling any of the bookstores in town. And their children's department is and always has been a marvel of completeness and good judgment.

Each year, Janice creates, for her customers, a list of the best new books for children under twelve (though a few of the books might also please older kids).

There's not room in this column (somebody has been writing way too much in this space) for me to print the whole list. But I can put the list up online, in the version of this column that appears at the Rhinoceros Times and Hatrack River websites.

Go to http://www.rhinotimes.com and http://www.hatrack.com to find that list. Then print it out and take it to the bookstore with you. Or keep it open in one browser window while you shop on Amazon.com or another online bookstore in another.

Following Janice Card's recommendations greatly increases your odds of giving a gift that will be enjoyed long after the wrapping paper has been thrown away and the toys have broken and the videogames have been played and taken back to Gamestop.


CHRISTMAS GIVING LIST 2008

Compiled by Janice Card

BYU Bookstore Children's Book Buyer

To get the BYU Bookstore discounts mentioned here, you can order from their online site

Selected Sale Titles for Winter & Christmas:

50 CHRISTMAS THINGS TO MAKE & DO by Usborne. EDC Publications. 9780794518370, $9.99 (40% off). Individuals or families with the slightest creative interests will enjoy this little spiral bound book full of crafty and artistic activities for the holidays.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: Including "A Christmas Tree" -- by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Robert Ingpen. Penguin. 9780698400856, $25.00 (30% off). 192 pages. Australian artist Robert Ingpen has provided lovely illustrations for these classic stories. Add this version to the dozens you already have, and buy one for a gift as well.

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry, illustrated by P. J. Lynch. Candlewick Press. 9780763635305, $15.99 (30% off). Here is a classic Christmas story with Lynch's beautiful art. A nice companion book for THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF JONATHAN TOOMEY.

A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Gail Yerrill. Tiger Tales. 9781589258280, $12.95 (30% off). Sparkles enhance each page of this lovely little book showing a mouse community enjoying all the fun activities and love that go along with winter and Christmas.

Selected Sale Titles:

APPLE PIP PRINCESS (Original Fairy Tale) by Jane Ray. Candlewick. 9780763637477, $16.99 (30% off). Here is a getting-back-to-nature original fairy tale that will help readers appreciate the beauties of nature and the difference trees, birds, and natural things can make in a manmade world.

FANNY by Holly Hobbie. Little Brown. 9780316166874, $16.99. (30% off). Fanny wants a Connie Doll, but her mother refuses to get her that glitzy glamour girl, so Fanny decides to make her own Connie doll. When she finishes her creation she decides that Annabelle is a more fitting name. Can Annabelle stand up against Fanny's friends' Connie dolls?

FOGGY FOGGY FOREST by Nick Sharratt. Candlewick Press. 9780763639211, $12.99 (30% off). Sharratt has created a unique picture book that makes his pictures look foggy. A touch of color here and there gives the pages life and focus.

GREEN TIGER'S ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF FAIRY TALES by Green Tiger, various illustrators represented. Green Tiger Press. 9781595832870, $24.95 (30% off). Beautiful illustrations by artists from the past enhance these familiar tales. This is a great gift for the collectors on your list.

HUG A BUG by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Dan Andreasen. HarperCollins. 9780060518325, $16.99 (30% off). Although this picture book is meant for the very young, anybody of any age knows that hugs can bring happiness to others.

MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE STUART LITTLE by Peggy Gifford. Schwartz & Wade/Random House. 9780375839153, $12.99. (30% off) 92 pages. Assigned to read Stuart Little over the summer, Moxy manages to carry the book around with her to the pool and anywhere else she goes, but actually reading the book does not happen until the last minute.

MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE WRITING THANK-YOU NOTES by Peggy Gifford. Schwartz & Wade/Random House. 7980375842702, $12.99 (30% off). 160 pages. Moxy is a pro at procrastination! She must write her post-Christmas thank-you's but can't bring herself to do it. She has to find an easier way. Reading these brief novels will fill you with delight and chuckles.

ONE by Kathryn Otoshi. KO Kids Books/Publishers Group West. 9780972394642, $16.95 (30% off). Here is a wonderful book of colors and numbers. But it is also a book about bullying and befriending and standing up for yourself.

SNOW by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lauren Stringer. Harcourt. 9780152053031, $17.00 (30% off). Different types of snow are described as a child and her grandmother build memories together. Those who love snow will relate well to this picture book.

THE SNOW QUEEN, by Hans Christian Andersen, retold by N Lewis and illustrated by Christian Birmingham. Candlewick Press. 9780763632298, $16.99 (30% off). Although the text is wordy and maintains the feel of an old tale, the illustrations are gorgeous and help move the story along.

SPLAT THE CAT by Rob Scotton. HarperCollins. 9780060831547, $16.95 (30% off). Splat is worried about his first day of school. For comfort he brings along his pet mouse, Seymour, hidden in his lunchbox. Splat learns many lessons about cat do's and don'ts. Best of all, he learns that school is a great place to be.

SWORDS - AN ARTIST'S DEVOTION by Ben Boos. Candlewick Press. 9780763631482, $24.99 (less 30%). "Elegant" describes this history of warriors and swords through the ages and from all over the world. Although this is a perfect choice as a gift for the men on your list, you might be surprised at how many ladies might find this book of interest.

THE WHEAT DOLL, by Alison L. Randall, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Peachtree. 7981561454563, $16.95 (30% off). In Utah territory in the late 1800s, Mary Ann lost her wheat doll and didn't find it until spring. This is a story passed down through the years and then told to the author. (The author is signing her book Tuesday evening.)

New Christmas Titles:

BABY ELF'S CHRISTMAS BOARD BOOK by Jane Cowen-Fletcher. Candlewick Press. 9780763632502, $5.99. Anyone would fall in love with this cute little elf as he discovers the fun of Christmas and the love it inspires.

THE CHRISTMAS ANGELS, by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Gail Yerrill. Good Books. 9781561486373, $16.95. Sparkling art and a gentle tale remind us that angels attend us all the time, but especially at Christmas.

THE CHRISTMAS BOOK: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever, by Juliana Foster. Scholastic. 9780545064439, $9.99. This is a family Christmas how-to that may be more for adults than children, but there is plenty for everyone's tastes. The index includes: How to Give a Party I & II, True Christmas Stories, Practical Jokes.

DRUMMER BOY by Loren Long. Philomel/Penguin. 9780399251740, $17.99. Arriving as an anonymous gift, the toy drummer boy accidentally is knocked into the garbage and embarks on a series of adventures. He is faced by danger & loneliness, but bravely beats his drum and hopes to be reunited with the child who loves him.

INTRICATE ORNAMENTS: 45 CHRISTMAS DESIGNS TO COLOR by Chuck Abraham. Running Press. 9780762433308. $6.95. Anyone who loves to relax and color, especially with colored pencils, will love getting in the Christmas mood by bringing these designs to life in vivid color.

THE LUMP OF COAL by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist. HarperCollins. 9780061574283, $12.99. Very few people would think of a lump of coal as having much personality, but this one sure does. Where can you find true appreciation in this world if you are just a lump of coal? Nobody takes you seriously. But in this small book miracles do happen.

A PIRATE'S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra. Sterling. 9781402742576, $14.95. This is a must-have Christmas book because it is such a delightful new take on the old classic by Clement Moore. It is a super read-aloud picture book.

SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Daniel Howarth. Orchard Books/Scholastic. 9780545094443, $14.99. Snowball, a young bunny, is picked up by Santa on his Christmas route. The little rabbit assists Santa as he delivers gifts, then he is returned to his loving family.

Picture Books:

ANGEL GIRL: Based on a True Story, by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Ofra Amit. CarolRhoda Bks / Lerner. 9780822587392, $16.95. The sparse text in this unique picture book is full of the feelings of loneliness, drudgery and despair that came with living in a Nazi concentration camp, but even stronger is the assurance of a mother's love and the kindness of a young farm girl. This story of survival and love will touch every heart.

FROG BRIDE retold by Antonia Barber, illustrated by Virginia Lee. 9781845074760, $16.95. This Grimm Brothers' tale is nicely retold with artwork that takes the reader to old Russia.

IT'S TIME TO SLEEP, MY LOVE by Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Nancy Tillman. Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan. 97803128383718, $16.95. Brief, poetic text is accompanied by such lovely artwork it will create beautiful dreams for a sleepy child or adult.

LITTLE MOUSE'S BIG BOOK OF FEARS by Emily Gravett. Simon & Schuster. 9781416959304, $17.99. This inventive British picture book creator has already come out with some winners (for example: WOLVES). Here is a book of fears that are shared by a mouse and many others, and as usual, there is a surprising end to the tale.

PENGUINS by Liz Pichon. Orchard Books/Scholastic. 9780545022156, $12.99. A little girl drops her camera among the penguins at the zoo. When she retrieves it the next day she is surprised by some of the pictures that show up on her roll of film.

TWO BOBBIES: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, & Survival, by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery, illustrated by Jean Cassels. Walker Books. 9780802797544, $16.99. Truly touching, this tale of two animals rescued from the aftermath of Katrina, helps skeptics to realize that animals are capable of love, loyalty, and tender care.

Novels:

SEBASTIAN DARKE: PRINCE OF FOOLS by Philip Caveney. Delacorte Press/Random House. 9780385734677, $15.99. 338 pages. Ages 10 up. This is the first book of either a series or a trilogy that follows the adventures of a young Elf-man who is trying to follow in his father's footsteps as a court jester. He travels with his buffalope, Max, who can talk and makes the most of it. He meets up with Cornelius Drummel, a warrior of small stature, and Princess Kerin, who steals his heart. Together this threesome overcomes evil.

SOMETHING WICKEDLY WEIRD 1: THE WOODEN MILE by Chris Mould. Roaring Brook Press. 9781596433830, $9.95. 176 pages. Ages 8 to 12. Delightful black and white illustrations accompany the text in this fun adventure tale of a boy, Stanley, who inherits his great-uncle's estate, Candlestick Hall, on Crampton Rock, a remote island filled with both the weird and the wonderful.

SOMETHING WICKEDLY WEIRD 2: THE ICY HAND by Chris Mould. Roaring Brook Press. 9781596433854, $9.95. 174 pages. Ages 8 to 12. Daisy comes into the picture and helps Stanley in his latest quest. These are clever, fast-moving tales to capture any reader and hold them from beginning to end.

Cookbook:

PINK PRINCESS TEA PARTIES by Barbara Beery. Gibbs Smith. 9781423604167, $14.99. 63 pages of delectable delicacies for the Pink Princess in your life. Although this books is directed toward young girls, it is unlikely that princes or pirates could resist these treats: cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, smoothies. This is a companion book for other Beery titles: Fairies Cook Book & Mermaid Cook Book.

Pop-up Book:

ABC3D by Marion Bataille, Roaring Brook. 9781596434257, $19.95. Here is the alphabet as you have never seen it before. Compact in size, but brimming with creative letters that pop out at you. This is a collectors' pop-up book for sure.

Thank you for joining us here at the BYU Bookstore!

Happy shopping and happy reading to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas, too!


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