It was the party that soured things for Ali. His block in Brooklyn might not be the best neighborhood, but it was home. It wasn’t exciting, just he and Needles and Noodles hanging out on the stoop. They avoided trouble, avoided the gangs.

But that party. Yeah, that’s where things went wrong.

Sure his younger sister, Jazz irritated him. Moms was strict. She wanted the best for her kids. She wouldn’t want him to be involved in the party. It was for older people, not fifteen and sixteen-year-olds.

Yeah, things didn’t go down well there.

This is a story about families and how they watch out for one another. I like how Mr. Reynolds carried the family theme from a family unit to the family of friends and the family of neighborhood. Everyone on the block watched out for Needles who has Tourette’s Syndrome.

Jason Reynolds is an up coming author, a definite companion author to be read alongside Walter Dean Myers whose books like this one, does a great job of describing the people and streets of New York City.


Zombie Movies

I was half watching this zombie movie, not that I’m a huge fan of them or even a fan of the horror genre. I was in couch potato mode and channel surfing. When the movie got to the point where survivors are sleeping in a house and the zombies start lurching over the hill, I started wondering.

Why is it in all, most, zombie movies, the people in them act like they’ve never saw a zombie movie? Why don’t they barricade the house to keep zombies out? And in this particular movie, they kept a zombie in house, tied up. You know that’s never going to end up well. And it didn’t. That may be the point though.

You’d think that someone might go: You know, in the movie this happened and maybe we should safeguard ourselves by….

It’s like this one Geico commercial where a group of people are running from the monster/killer and keep running to the places you shouldn’t go. “Let’s hide behind the chain saws.” “Let’s go to the cemetery.” And they dismiss the best option of driving off in the car with the keys in the ignition.

It’d be nice to see a movie where they do all the right things. Throw all zombies out of the shelter. Make it zombie proof. Maybe download the recommendations of the CDC about what to do in a zombie apocalypse. (It really exists. Check it out.) That might be a boring movie, but I’d find it interesting. It’d be a like a ‘how-to’ movie on surviving in a Zombie world.

The one thing I like about writing, is that I learn all sorts of cool things. Usually this is done by research. But, sometimes it’s something like how do you put snow in a picture that has none.

This came up when I was creating my annual Christmas story. The first time I did tried to add snow to an image, I pasted individual snowflakes into the picture. Needless to say this took a while and I didn’t want to repeat this procedure. Surely there had to be a better way. And there is. I won’t get into much detail, you can view a video on YouTube if you’re interested. I just want to share my excitement at solving a peculiar problem.

After getting directions from the Internet, I went through them and it didn’t work. My result was a hot mess. I must have missed a step and I had because it worked the next time. It was so cool. No more pasting snowflakes and making them smaller or larger as the case may be. This way it takes a lot less time.

This isn’t the first time I got to expand my expertise on Adobe Photoshop elements because of the my picture books. It won’t be the last either. I use MS Paint as well, but I’ll have to become more proficient in another drawing program because Paint is going away. At least I’ll become proficient in something else. Always learning. That’s a good thing.

Life in 1870, is hard for ten-year-old Sugar. Sugar is her name and sugar is her life. She hates sugar. Most of the younger people have moved on, north. But Sugar remains, working the cane fields. Her mother’s dead. Her father was sold before the war. So far he hasn’t come back. Sugar wants more than working the sugar cane fields on River Road Plantation.

Then her life changes when she escapes the Beales, the couple who care for her, and she plays with the son of the plantation owner. Life changes for everyone when the Chinese men arrive to work the fields.

I never knew Chinese workers worked the fields in the South. It turns out thousands of Chinese workers were brought to Mississippi and Louisiana. When African Americans migrated north after the Civil war, they created a labor shortage and this was filled by the Chinese. Make sure to read the Note from the Author to learn more.

Ms. Rhodes’ description of cutting sugar cane was fascinating. I found out sugar cane leaves have sharp edges that cut at the workers arms and hand. The whole process was interesting. I can’t leave out the characters especially Sugar who only wants to be a kid, yet has to work. I loved the part where Billy, the owner’s son works in the field one day so he could learn more about and his mother says the work isn’t meant for a child. And there is Sugar working the field every day.

This book will well in a unit of the Reconstruction era.

Dear Hamish : poetry

Thank you for the fine birthday card. It is ‘awesome’ as some here say. I was sorry to hear about the card you received from the unknown sheep who wrote ‘Shall I compare you to a cow patty.’ I have an idea who it was. Two ideas.

Pawnee Kitty has been on a poetry kick. She believes she is the ‘Master of Haiku’ and scribbles them constantly, waving them in my face. This is my haiku to her.

Horrible Kitty.
Breathes meat breath in my nostrils.
I am disgusted.

I also did this one. I have several versions of it.

Heather and Peatmoss
Most horrid twins in the world.
We are disgusted.

So, hah to Pawnee. I can write haiku too. I’m nea Robbie Burns, but I got the hang of it after a bit. Pawnee had this grand idea I should write the haiku to potential sweeties. I’m horrified to admit it is not a bad thought.

Wool curls frame her face.
Her eyes, dew drops in the sun.
Her lips are divine.

Unfortunately, I seem to be better at writing them about Pawnee then potential sweeties. It took me three days for the one above and only a minute for the one below that I wrote for an ex-potential sweetie

Potential Sweetie
You ate pineapple tops, ugh
Alone, again. Sigh.

I think I can haiku negative poems better than positive. I think I need to start working on me crofts and stop thinking about haikus and haikuing. Now if I can only get Pawnee to stop.

From the colonies,

Feeling another anti-Pawnee haiku emerging

Angus. McSheep.

This is something I find disappointing about libraries. You get hooked on an author, but the books you want to read, they don’t have. Or, you get hooked on a series and they don’t have the others in it. I suppose this could be a plot to get one to go out and buy the books. Which I have done and will probably do again once I get more funds in. Except sometimes I forget the author or series. That’s a real pain. Or maybe it’s a good thing. If I can’t remember it, I can’t want it. Only I remember bits of it and I want to read the book(s).

For example, I read a book by an author who’s last is Hughes. I think. The book is set in Liverpool during WWII. She’s written another book. I think it’s Hero on a Bicycle. I want to read it. Then I read another book, a biography, set in WWII. There are three in the series. I only read the first one and I want to read the rest. That’s three books I want to read that I can’t my hands on.

I really need to write these authors and titles down and keep my eyes open for them.

Unfortunately some are hard to get. Like Ivan Southall, an Australian writer. I’ve read two books from him, I own one, and they are really good. You can’t even tell they were written years and years ago. These I actively searched for, but they are not easy to get. The only ones I could find were the ones I read.

Annie is new to school and worried about finding friends. One girl latches onto her. ‘We’re going to be friends,” she says. Annie does not like her. She likes her even less when Elsie follows her home and breaks her beloved doll.

Elsie lies. She’s a tattletail. Annie isn’t free of her until she, Elsie is gone for a few days. Now Annie’s able to be friends with most popular girls in school. No more Elsie. No more until Elsie dies of the Spanish Flu and comes back to haunt Annie. ‘Soon everyone will hate you even more than they hated me,” Elsie tells her. Annie is going to be her friend no matter what.


This is set in the year of 1918 in the backdrop of the first World War and the deadly flu. Ms. Hahn brings to life the scenes of hearses rolling down the streets and the wreaths on door as well the clique of kids roaming living through those times.

I liked how she made used a character, Jane, to help us sympathize with Elsie, who really is a horrible girl. I wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with her either. And, as mean as some of Annie’s friends were to Elsie, I identified with that because there were times I was just like them – following a leader and making fun of someone even though I knew inside it was wrong.

Ms. Hahn writes nice, creepy ghost stories. Scary, but not too scary and always with a satisfying ending. If you have someone who’s fond of horror, make sure to recommend this one.