They’re “Clever and Quirky,” as zany as a purple turkey from Albuquerque. This month’s Book Buzz Picks are sure to bee titles you’ll remember, so spread the word on the absurd. Until next month, keep “Paging on!”
‘The Obstinate Pen’
By Frank W. Dormer
Pens like Parkers and Papermates know what’s expected of them, straight lines and curlicues, and printing to be proud of. But beware the writing instrument in “The Obstinate Pen,” by Frank W. Dormer. It has escapades hilarious, detailed in cartoon drawings by the former, Dormer.
Uncle Flood is delighted to get a new pen and unwraps it as his nephew Horace looks on. The pen stands respectfully at attention. Imagine Flood’s shock when he puts pen to paper and instead of writing “The following story is all true,” the pen writes, “You have a big nose.” Uncle Flood tosses the pen out the window, where it bounces off the ear of a policeman.
So begins a madcap caper with the pen passing from hand to hand, each owner receiving insults from an indiscriminate roller-ball with a mind of its own. In the end, we realize the pen isn’t really such a bad apple. It just has a different goal in mind for its ink — doesn’t mean to raise a stink.
‘Paul Bunyan and Baby the Blue Ox, the Great Pancake Adventure,’
by Matt Luckhurst
Pass the Aunt Jemima’s! You’ll flip over “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, the Great Pancake Adventure,” by Matt Luckhurst.
Most of you know the story of super-sized Paul and his sidekick Babe, an ox the size of a covered wagon. But did you know the pair were impassioned about pancakes. They could stomach hundreds at a sitting.
Growing boys need better nourishment, Paul’s mom said. When Mom took to preaching about greens, broccoli and the like, Paul and Babe vamoosed in search of sweeter pancake pastures.
They scored in the deep, dark woods. A truck loaded with flour turned over next to a creek, dumping the white stuff into the water, making a gooey-thick stream of endless batter that got baked in the hot sun.
This was the first of Paul and Babe’s lucky days as they scoured the countryside, from east to west, making pancake pigs of themselves. Alas, all good things must come to an end — even a tall stack in this fun book with fanciful folk art illustrations.
‘Liar & Spy’
by Rebecca Stead
Things aren’t at all what they seem in “Liar & Spy,” an unsettling, yet heartwarming, book by Rebecca Stead that doesn’t reveal all until the last 20 pages.
Georges, a sixth-grader, is made fun of because of his name. He isn’t much of an athlete, has lost his best friend to the popular group and is adjusting to life in a new apartment because his dad has lost his job. Georges could have benefited from having his mother around, but she’s, it seems, working double shifts at the hospital to make up for the family’s lost income.
When Georges sees a note in the basement of the apartment house about a spy club meeting, his father encourages him to join. That’s how Georges becomes friends with Safer, the only member of the club. Safer is highly intelligent, observant, weird and mysterious. The homeschooled boy is just Georges’ age, a self-taught-spy sure that the Mr. X, the man in Apartment 4 is up to no good. It doesn’t take Safer long to drag Georges into his web of espionage.
In actuality, both Safer and Georges wear an armor of denial to keep reality at bay. When Safer’s cover is blown all is revealed, leaving readers in breathless wonder at the pure and simple genius of this touching, highly original read.