Esio Trot ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Esio Trot
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story
Pages: 14
Words: 4.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Mr Hoppy is a shy elderly man who lives alone in an apartment, tending to his many plants, which have been the centre of his life since he retired from his job in a bus garage several years before. For many years, he has had a secret love whose name was Mrs Silver. She lives in the flat below his, and he frequently leans over his balcony and exchanges polite conversations with Mrs Silver, but his courage fails him whenever he prepares to hint at his true feelings for her.

Mrs Silver has a small pet tortoise, Alfie, who is the centre of her world. One morning, Mrs Silver mentions to Mr Hoppy that even though she has owned Alfie for many years, he has only grown a tiny bit and has gained only 13 ounces in weight. She confesses that she wishes she knew of some way to make her little Alfie grow into a larger, more dignified tortoise. Mr Hoppy suddenly thinks of a way to give Mrs Silver her wish and win her heart.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he — in fact — knows a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs Silver:

ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,

TEG REGGIB REGGIB,

EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,

WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU,

GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!

EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!

TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF,

OG NO, OG NO, ELBBOG DOOF.

Mr Hoppy explains that these magic words, when whispered in Alfie’s ear three times a day, will cause Alfie to grow bigger and bigger. Mrs Silver is doubtful, but agrees to try. (The words are, reversed, Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, blow up, swell up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Go on, go on, gobble food!)

Over the next few days, Mr Hoppy carries out the second part of his plan. He visits every pet shop in the city, and buys many tortoises of various sizes, but none that weigh less than 13 ounces. Mr Hoppy brings all the tortoises back to his flat and installs them in a makeshift corral in his living room. Next, Mr Hoppy builds a special tool to help him snatch the tortoise from Mrs Silver’s balcony. He fastens a handle to the end of a long metal tube, and a tiny claw at the bottom. By pulling the handle, the arms of the claw gently open and close.

The following day, when Mrs Silver left for work, Mr Hoppy selects a tortoise from his living room that weighs exactly 15 ounces. He carefully picked Alfie up from the lower balcony, and exchanged him with the new tortoise. When Mrs Silver returned home, she faithfully whispers the magic words in Alfie’s ear, but does not notice that an exchange has been made.

Over the next 8 weeks, Mr Hoppy continues to switch Mrs Silver’s current pet with a slightly larger tortoise, but she still does not perceive that her pet is growing in size. One afternoon, Mrs Silver comments to Mr Hoppy that Alfie seems a bit bigger, but can not tell for sure. Suddenly, Mrs Silver notices that Alfie can no longer fit through the door to his house, and exclaims to Mr Hoppy that his spell is sure to be working. Mrs Silver runs inside and weighs her pet, and is surprised to find that Alfie now weighs 27 ounces, more than double the weight he was before. Mr Hoppy summons his courage and asks Mrs Silver if he can come down and see the effect for himself. Mrs Silver, in raptures over her pet’s transformation, gladly grants his request.

Mr Hoppy runs down the stairs, nervous and excited to be on the brink of winning Mrs Silver’s love. Mrs Silver flings open the door, embraces Mr Hoppy, and expresses her admiration for Mr Hoppy’s magical spell. However, the tortoise cannot fit in the house now, so Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver to say the magic spell properly. On the next night he secretly replaces this tortoise with one slightly smaller one. His part works splendidly, and Mr Hoppy, suddenly emboldened by Mrs Silver’s warm smile, asks Mrs Silver for her hand in marriage. Mrs Silver delightedly accepts Mr Hoppy’s proposal, then adds that she thought he would never get around to asking. “All due to Alfie!” she cries.

Mr Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises in his living room back to their respective pet shops, telling all the owners that they didn’t need to pay. Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver are happily married a few weeks later. The “original” Alfie is bought by a girl called Roberta Squibb after he is returned to a pet shop; moreover, after many years, he does indeed grow to double his size before.

My Thoughts:

You know, I ended up thinking the EXACT SAME THING as I did when I read this in ’12. An overly complicated solution to something that could have been sorted out in 5minutes. That’s not necessarily bad, but I was hoping for a new revelation (as it were).

Of course, being a short story of just 14 pages (with pictures mind you), it’s hard to get to the bones of the story, as it doesn’t have any 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Series: Charlie Bucket #2
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 117
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story picks up where the previous book left off, with Charlie and family aboard the flying Great Glass Elevator after Willy Wonka has rewarded him with the ownership of his chocolate factory. The Elevator accidentally goes into orbit, and Mr. Wonka docks them at the Space Hotel USA. Their interception of the hotel is mistaken by approaching astronauts and hotel staff in a Commuter Capsule and listeners on Earth (including the President of the United States) as an act of space piracy and they are variously accused of being enemy agents, spies and aliens. Shortly after their arrival, they discover that the hotel has been overrun by dangerous, shape-changing alien monsters known as The Vermicious Knids. The Knids cannot resist showing off and reveal themselves by using the five hotel elevators (with one Knid in each of them) and spell out the word “SCRAM”, giving the group time to evacuate. As the group leaves, a Knid follows the Great Glass Elevator and tries to break it open, but to no avail, which results in the Knid receiving a bruise on its backside and hungering for payback.

Meanwhile, with the Great Glass Elevator’s passengers gone, the President allows the Commuter Capsule to dock with the Space Hotel. Upon entry by the astronauts and the Space Hotel staff, the Knids attack by eating fourteen of the staff, prompting an immediate evacuation by the rest of the group. The Great Glass Elevator comes back just in time to see the entire Knid infestation coming in on the attack, bashing the Commuter Capsule to the point where the retrorockets cannot be fired to initiate immediate reentry and the communication antenna cannot keep the astronauts in communication with the President. Charlie suggests towing the Commuter Capsule back to Earth, and, despite a last attempt by the Knids to tow the two craft away to their home planet Vermes, in the process the Knids are incinerated in Earth’s atmosphere. Mr. Wonka releases the Commuter Capsule, while the Elevator crashes down through the roof of the chocolate factory.

Back in the chocolate factory, three of Charlie’s grandparents refuse to leave their bed. Mr. Wonka gives them a rejuvenation formula called “Wonka-Vite”. They take much more than they need (4 pills instead of 1 or 2), subtracting 80 years (which reduces their age by 20 years per pill). Two become babies, but 78-year-old Grandma Georgina vanishes, having become “−2”. Charlie and Mr. Wonka journey to “Minusland”, where they track down Grandma Georgina’s spirit. As she has no physical presence, Mr. Wonka sprays her with the opposite of “Wonka-Vite” – “Vita-Wonk” – in order to age her again. Mr. Wonka admits that it is not an accurate way to age a person, but the spray is the only way to dose “minuses”. Upon leaving Minusland, they discover that Grandma Georgina is now 358 years old. Using cautious doses of Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk, the three grandparents are restored to their original ages.

Finally, the President of the United States invites the family and Mr. Wonka to the White House to thank them for their space rescue. The family and Wonka accept the invitation (including the grandparents who finally agree to get out of their beds) and prepare to leave.

My Thoughts:

When I read the Charlie Bucket books back in elementary, middle and high school, I always enjoyed The Great Glass Elevator more than Chocolate Factory. Back then I think it was because of the SF elements (space, spaceships, aliens, negative land, etc) in Elevator that simply weren’t in Factory. So when I read the duology this year (Chocolate Factory was read in January) I was expecting to like Elevator more once again. Imagine my surprise when I got done this book and realized that Chocolate Factory is not only the better book but also more enjoyable.

Part of that is that the premise to this book is beyond even ridiculous. It’s hilarious and I still love it, but it just hit me that it WAS ridiculous this time around and so my enjoyment was lessened. I wasn’t able to enter into the silliness like Dahl intended. The other thing that lessened my enjoyment was that the other 3 grandparents played a part in the story this time and they were stinkers. Made me shake my head and wonder how Charlie turned out so well.

Other than that, I enjoyed the ever living daylights out of this. Willy Wonka is a genius who is always in control no matter the circumstances and Charlie is a smart boy who THINKS before he reacts. More kids need examples like that in their entertainment.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Little Princess ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Little Princess
Series: ———-
Authors: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Lit
Pages: 167
Words: 67K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Captain Ralph Crewe, a wealthy English widower, has been raising his only child, Sara, in India where he is stationed with the British Army. Because the Indian climate is considered too harsh for children, British families living there traditionally send their children to boarding school back home in England. The Captain enrolls his seven-year-old daughter at Miss Minchin’s boarding school for girls in London and dotes on his daughter so much that he orders and pays the headmistress for special treatment and exceptional luxuries for Sara, such as a private room for her with a personal maid and a separate sitting room (see Parlour boarder), along with Sara’s own private carriage and a pony. Miss Minchin openly fawns over Sara for her money, but is secretly bitter toward her for her wealth.

In spite of said wealth, Sara is not self-centered, rude, or snobbish, but rather kind, generous, and compassionate. She extends her friendship to Ermengarde St. John, the school dunce; to Lottie, a four-year-old pupil given to tantrums; and to Becky, the lowly, stunted scullery maid. When Sara acquires the epithet “princess”, she embraces its favorable elements in her natural kindheartedness.

After some time, Sara’s eleventh birthday is celebrated at Miss Minchin’s with a lavish party, attended by all her friends and classmates. Just as it ends, Miss Minchin learns of Captain Crewe’s unfortunate demise due to jungle fever. Furthermore, prior to his death, the previously wealthy captain had lost his entire fortune; a close friend from his schoolboy days had persuaded him to cash in his investments and deposit the proceeds to develop a network of diamond mines. The scheme fails, and the preteen Sara is left an orphan and a pauper, with no other family and nowhere to go. Miss Minchin is left with a sizable unpaid bill for Sara’s school fees and luxuries, including her birthday party. Infuriated and pitiless, she takes away all of Sara’s possessions (except for some old frocks and her doll, Emily), makes her live in a cold and poorly furnished attic, and forces her to earn her keep by working as a servant. She also forces Sara to wear frocks much too short for her, with her thin legs peeking out of the brief skirts.

For the next two years, Sara is abused by Miss Minchin and the other servants, except for Becky. Miss Minchin’s kind younger sister, Amelia, deplores the way that Sara is treated, but is too weak-willed to speak up about it. Sara is starved, worked for long hours, sent out in all kinds of weather, poorly dressed in outgrown and worn-out clothes, and deprived of warmth or a comfortable bed in the attic. Despite her hardships, Sara is consoled by her friends and uses her imagination to cope, pretending she is a prisoner in the Bastille or a princess disguised as a servant. Sara also continues to be kind to everyone, including those who find her annoying or mistreat her. One day, she finds a coin in the street and uses it to buy buns at a bakery; despite being very hungry, she gives most of the buns away to a beggar girl who is hungrier than herself. The bakery shop owner sees this and wants to reward Sara, but she has disappeared, so the shop owner instead gives the beggar girl bread and warm shelter for Sara’s sake.

Meanwhile, Mr. Carrisford and his Indian assistant, Ram Dass, have moved into the house next door to Miss Minchin’s school. Carrisford had been Captain Crewe’s friend and partner in the diamond mines. After the diamond mine venture failed, both Crewe and Carrisford became very ill, and Carrisford in his delirium abandoned his good childhood friend Crewe, who died of his “brain fever.” As it turned out, the diamond mines did not fail, but instead were a great success, making Carrisford extremely rich. Although Carrisford survived, he suffers from several ailments and is guilt-ridden over abandoning his friend. He is determined to find Crewe’s young daughter and heiress, although he does not know where she is and thinks she is attending school in France, as her late mother was a Frenchwoman.

Ram Dass befriends Sara when his pet monkey escapes into Sara’s adjoining attic. After climbing over the roof to Sara’s room to get the monkey, Ram Dass tells Carrisford about Sara’s poor living conditions. As a pleasant distraction, Carrisford and Ram Dass buy warm blankets, comfortable furniture, food, and other gifts, and secretly leave them in Sara’s room when she is asleep or out. Sara’s spirits and health improve due to the gifts she receives from her mysterious benefactor, whose identity she does not know; nor are Ram Dass and Carrisford aware that Sara is Crewe’s lost daughter. When Carrisford anonymously sends Sara a package of new, well-made, and expensive clothing in her proper size, Miss Minchin becomes quite alarmed, thinking Sara might have a wealthy relative secretly looking out for her, and begins to treat Sara better and allows her to attend classes rather than doing menial work.

One night, the monkey again runs away to Sara’s room, and Sara visits Carrisford’s house the next morning to return him. When Sara casually mentions that she was born in India, Carrisford and his solicitor question her and discover that she is Captain Crewe’s daughter, for whom they have been searching for two years. Sara also learns that Carrisford was her father’s childhood friend and her own anonymous benefactor and that the diamond mines have produced great riches, of which she will now own her late father’s share. When Miss Minchin angrily appears to collect Sara, she is informed that Sara will be living with Carrisford from now on and her entire fortune has been restored and increased tenfold. Upon finding this out, Miss Minchin unsuccessfully tries to persuade Sara into returning to her school as a star pupil. She then threatens to keep Sara from ever seeing her school friends again, but Carrisford and his solicitor tell Miss Minchin that Sara will see anyone she wishes to see and that her friends’ parents are not likely to refuse invitations from an heiress of diamond mines. Miss Minchin goes home, where she is surprised when Amelia finally stands up to her. Amelia has a nervous breakdown afterward, but she is on the road to gaining more respect.

Sara invites Becky to live with her and be her personal maid, in much better living conditions than at Miss Minchin’s. Carrisford becomes a friend and father figure to Sara and quickly regains his health. Finally, Sara—accompanied by Becky—pays a visit to the bakery where she bought the buns, making a deal with the owner to cover the bills for bread for any hungry child. They find that the beggar girl (now named Ann), who was saved from starvation by Sara’s selfless act, is now the bakery owner’s assistant, with good food, clothing, shelter, and steady employment.

My Thoughts:

When I read The Secret Garden back in ’12, I kept telling myself that I also needed to read Burnett’s A Little Princess. Well, it only took me 10 years, but tada!

Honestly, this didn’t hold a candle to The Secret Garden. Part of it was that this was a little rich girl, who while not spoiled, was given everything her father could. It didn’t ruin her, but the sympathy factor started much lower than in SG (that’s Secret Garden, NOT Star Gate SG1). Her riches to rags to riches story, while heartwarming, didn’t have the same depth as the kids in SG had, as they had to work at stuff while Sara just has to get through each day of being a servant. The idea of a benevolent, all encompassing “magic” was much more present here and almost made Sara’s riches to rags story feel like it had no impact, because “the magic” would take care of it all.

What I most remember about this story is the 1987 tv mini-series. We watched it in school (it was 6 episodes so we would have watched one part each time) and reading it now brought it all back. There is a scene where there is a pie gone missing that was reserved for the head mistress and the cook blames the scullery maid. The scullery maid knows full well the cook gave it to her boyfriend but nobody believes her. In the movie the headmistress is going on about the missing pie and demanding to know what happened and the cook just lifts her eyebrow and nods over her shoulder at the scullery maid. I didn’t even realize that scene from the movie had stuck in my head until I read it again in the book and bam, I could see it all again crystal clear. It so weird how images like that get stuck in your brain without even realizing it.

To end, if I had to choose between A Little Princess and The Magic Garden, TMG wins hands down. Doesn’t make Princess a bad book, but at most it gets a Participation Trophy, not a Winner’s Trophy.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Twits ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Twits
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 69
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

A hideous, vindictive, spiteful couple known as the Twits live together in a brick house without windows. They continuously play nasty practical jokes on each other out of hatred for one another.

They also keep a family of pet monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps. The Twits, who are retired circus trainers, are trying to create the first upside-down monkey circus, they will always leave the monkeys to stand on their heads for hours on end.

Mr. Twit has this glue call Hugtight in hopes of catching birds for Mrs. Twit to make into a bird pie. The monkeys try to warn the birds before they land on the tree, but the English-speaking birds do not understand the monkeys’ African language.

Once a week the Roly-Poly bird flies to visit the monkeys, to secretly save the birds by acting as an interpreter of languages. On a Tuesday night a group of four boys see the ladder next to this tree and they decided to walk up into it, not thinking or knowing that glue was on it. On the Wednesday morning Mr Twit sees that the boys have scared them away. Out of rage Mr Twit charged at them but they got away. Mr Twit tries several times to catch the birds, and tired of not getting anywhere Mr. Twit decides to go buy guns with his wife to kill them.

The Muggle-Wumps come up with an idea to use Mr. Twit’s glue to attach the Twits’ furniture to their ceiling. The birds came up with an idea to smear glue on the Twits’ heads. Shocked, the Twits rush into their home and see the mess. Mr. Twit suggests that they stand on their heads so that they are ‘the right way up’ The Roly-Poly bird then offers to fly the Muggle-Wumps all the way back to Africa and the Muggle-Wumps escape.

Hours later both Mr and Mrs. Twit are putting all their weight down on the heads and they catch the ‘Dreaded Shrinks’- their bodies compressing ‘downwards.’ Their feet shrink into their legs, their legs shrink into their stomach, their stomach shrink into their heads, and their head shrink into nothing but two pairs of shoes and old clothes. Mr and Mrs Twit are nowhere to be seen.

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, now this was some good stuff! Dahl can write the most horrible characters but unlike modern authors who revel in that disgustingness, he gives those revolting characters just what they deserve! The Twits are B-A-D people and they get everything coming to them.

At only 70’ish pages (and it would be quite a bit shorter without Quentin Blake’s absolutely wonderful illustrations), this is something that an adult can polish off in one sitting. It would also be a good starter book to introduce Dahl to younger readers who aren’t quite ready to sit down for a full hour or two.

Simply put, I like Dahl’s writing. He is funny and quirky and has the ability to write bad characters that are almost caricatures but don’t quite cross that line. He also infuses his childrens books with a child’s sense of justice and fairplay which I love.

Everything I wrote back in 2012 (when I first reviewed this) still stands.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Matilda ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Matilda
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 120
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

In a small Buckinghamshire village forty minutes by bus away from Reading and 8 miles from the Bingo club in Aylesbury, Matilda Wormwood is born to Mr and Mrs Wormwood. She immediately shows amazing precocity, learning to speak at age one and to read at age three and a half, perusing all the children’s books in the library by the age of four and three months and moving on to longer classics such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. However, her parents (particularly her father) ignore and emotionally abuse her and completely refuse to acknowledge her abilities, and Matilda finds herself forced to pull pranks on them (such as gluing her father’s hat to his head, sticking a parrot in the chimney to simulate a burglar or ghost, and bleaching her father’s hair) to avoid getting frustrated.

At the age of five and a half, Matilda enters school and befriends her teacher Jennifer Honey, who is astonished by her intellectual abilities. Miss Honey tries to move Matilda into a higher class, but the tyrannical headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull, refuses. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Mr and Mrs Wormwood about their daughter’s intelligence, but they ignore her, with the mother contending “brainy-ness” is an undesirable trait in a little girl.

Miss Trunchbull later confronts a girl called Amanda Thripp for wearing pigtails (the headmistress repeatedly displays a dislike of long hair throughout the book) and does a hammer throw with the girl over the playground fence. A boy called Bruce Bogtrotter is later caught by the cook stealing a piece of Miss Trunchbull’s cake; the headmistress makes him attempt to eat an 18 in (45.72 cm) wide cake in front of the assembly, then smashes the platter over his head in rage after he unexpectedly succeeds.

Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey, and watches as Trunchbull terrorises her students with deliberately creative, over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing them, such as throwing them in a dark closet dubbed “The Chokey”, which is lined with nails and broken glass. When Matilda’s friend Lavender plays a practical joke on Trunchbull by placing a newt in her jug of water, Matilda uses an unexpected power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing the newt onto Trunchbull.

Matilda reveals her new powers to Miss Honey, who confides that after her wealthy father, Dr Magnus Honey, suspiciously died, she was raised by an abusive aunt, revealed to be Miss Trunchbull. Trunchbull appears (among other misdeeds) to be withholding her niece’s inheritance, as Miss Honey has to live in poverty in a derelict farm cottage, and her salary is being paid into Miss Trunchbull’s bank account for the first 10 years of her teaching career (while she is restricted to £1 per week in pocket money). Preparing to avenge Miss Honey, Matilda practises her telekinesis at home. Later, during a sadistic lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and begins to use it to write, posing as the spirit of “Magnus”. Addressing Miss Trunchbull using her first name, “Magnus” demands that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the school, causing Miss Trunchbull to faint.

The next day, the school’s deputy headmaster, Mr Trilby, visits Trunchbull’s house and finds it empty, except for signs of Trunchbull’s hasty exit. She is never seen again, and the house and property are finally and rightfully returned to Miss Honey. Trilby becomes the new headmaster, proving himself to be capable and good-natured, overwhelmingly improving the school’s atmosphere and curriculum, and quickly moving Matilda into the top-form class with the 11-year-olds. Rather to Matilda’s relief, she soon is no longer capable of telekinesis. Miss Honey theorises this is because Matilda is using her brainpower on a more challenging curriculum, leaving less of her brain’s energy free, unlike earlier when she was not in a high year, where she had her brainpower free for psychokinesis.

Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, returning home one day to find her parents and her older brother Michael hastily packing to leave for Spain. Miss Honey explains this is because the police found out Mr Wormwood has been selling stolen cars. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents rather distractedly agree. Matilda and Miss Honey find their happy ending, as the Wormwoods drive away, never to be seen again.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book to start my Roald Dahl re-read because it is the best selling book of his (at least according to wikipedia). Honestly, I just needed something to choose which book to go with.

Really, the exact same thing struck me this time around as it did back in ’12. Dahl was able to tap into what it feels like to be a child and then tell a story about a childs most basic wish fulfillment, ie, to be in control and to have a stable and loving environment.

What I like about Dahl is that even while describing horrible circumstances, he doesn’t make that the focus and so neither the main character nor the reader are stuck there. He uses a combination of humor and fictional empowerment to get the child into a place where things are better. He also tends to make the villains buffoons and idiots even if they are very powerful.

This was a delightful (a word I suspect I will be using for most of his books) little day read that allowed me to become an all powerful child for a short time and to forget the grind of life.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Grumpy Monkey ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Grumpy Monkey
Author: Suzanne & Max Lang
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children
Pages: 32
Words: 0.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? In the end Jim admits he’s grumpy and chooses to ride it out, as he’ll be happy tomorrow.

My Thoughts:

This was a cute little childrens book about a chimpanzee who was grumpy. Definitely for the pre-readers who like to look at the pictures or those who are just learning to read. I won’t comment on how the content is supposed to teach children, as we don’t have any and I’m not sure that I’d use this to teach anyone anything anyway. (Notice the anyanyany? I feel rather clever).

Mrs B bought me this for my birthday the other month as I have a collection of Grumpy Cat books and this fit in perfectly with that theme. She also got me a stuff monkey. He’s no Mr Zip, but he’ll do as a cousin who I wouldn’t mind handing off to a niece or something so she could slobber all over it and make baby noises and chew on it without me worrying about her destroying a priceless, prized family heirloom. (well, that IS how Mr Zip thinks of himself. Jimbo on the other hand realizes he’s destined for slobber and chewings and has resigned himself to such a fate. Look at those eyes, you can see the stoic resignation even in the picture!)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings Prequel) ★★★★★

hobbit (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Hobbit
Series: The Lord of the Rings Prequel
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 235
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. Who ends up with a wizard and 13 dwarves for dinner. And somehow gets finagled into going on an adventure to recover the dwarves lost treasure, that is guarded by the dragon Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo meets elves, runs away from goblins, plays a riddle game in the dark with Gollum for his life, finds a ring of invisibility, flies on eagles’ wings, fights giant spiders and is almost eaten by 3 trolls.

Eventually he and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and Laketown. They rouse the dragon and Bard of Laketown kills Smaug and then elves, humans and dwarves prepare to fight over the treasure. Until a huge goblin army shows up and everybody fights them. The good guys win, the treasure is shared and Bilbo returns home a better, wiser and more eccentric hobbit than ever.

 

My Thoughts:

What a book. I’ve read this enough times that nothing is a surprise. And yet… I am still in awe at how Tolkien weaves such a children’s tale so as to keep me intrigued, for the umpteenth time.

What do I say? A simple tale of adventure that is the prequel to one of the worlds most renowned fantasy series? A tale of bravery, generosity and kindness overcoming perils, greed and hatred? A stout heart being greater than a dragon? I just don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of this just like I have all the previous times and I don’t have any issues with it.

Well, except maybe all the singing. I wouldn’t have minded if there hadn’t been any singing. In regards to the singing though, the only thing I can say positively about the horrific movie trilogy is that the song by the dwarves in Bilbo’s house is absolutely haunting and enchanting. Who knows how long this link will exist, but here’s a youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ymgFyzbDo

If only the Silmarillion had been this interesting. Well, at least I’ve got the rest of the Trilogy to look forward too!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Black Pearl ★★★★★

blackpearlbig (custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Black Pearl
Series: ———-
Author: Scott O’Dell
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: MG Historical Fiction
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback Edition

 

Synopsis:

A young man, Ramon Salazar, recently turned 16 is made a partner in his father’s pearl business. He learns to grade and buy and sell the pearls the small fleet his father owns brings in each trip. However, what he really wants is to go diving with the fleet. His father allows him to come out with the fleet but only as a handler, not a diver.

The best pearl diver in the fleet is jealous of the opportunities that Ramon has and constantly needles him about not being a diver. This “Sevillano” claims to come from Spain and spins stories of all the exploits he has done. Eventually, it gets to Ramon and when the fleet makes a week long trip, he heads out to an Indian diver and begs him to teach him. Ramon learns how to be a diver and is shown a cave where Manta Diablo supposedly lives. The Indian tells him to not dive in the cave, as Manta Diablo will come after anyone who takes something from him.

Ramon can’t resist the lure and gets a huge clam which gives up a huge perfect “black” pearl. The Indian warns him that he is now cursed by Manta Diablo. Ramon heads home and gives the pearl to his father to show that he is a great diver, and to get back at the Sevillano for all his jibes. The father haggles with the local merchants and in a fit of pique at their stinginess, gives the pearl to the local Roman Catholic Church.

The next week the fleet is destroyed by a huge storm and only the Sevillano survives. This convinces Ramon that the pearl is indeed cursed and he steals it back from the church to take back to Manta Diablo’s cave. The Sevillano catches him and forces him to go to Mexico City where they can sell it for a huge fortune.

On their way, they are overtaken by a huge manta ray. After several incidents, the Sevillano harpoons the manta and eventually jumps on it to knife it to death. A rope wraps around him and he and the manta plunge into the depths never to be seen again. Ramon rows back to his village, returns the pearl to the church and realizes that he has grown up.

 

My Thoughts:

I had read and bought this back in elementary school at a book fair I believe. I enjoyed it a lot as a kid so I was kind of hesitant to dive into again and potentially ruin it. Kind of like how I got fed up with Lucky Starr by the end of the series. Some childrens books just aren’t meant for adults. However, since it was only 96 pages I figured I could pitch on in and rip through it at lunch times. Which is what I did.

What a great book!

This is the kind of adventure story that can capture the imagination of a young boy. O’Dell knows how to write for a youthful audience without churning out simplistic slop. Ramon deals with some huge issues and O’Dell gently guides the reader along that journey and makes a youngster think about what might change in their life and how would they respond? I love, Love, LOVE the fact that at no point is Ramon an angst-ridden whiny baby. O’Dell doesn’t buy into the lie that young people have to be coddled and that anything “tough” will destroy them. He shows that THROUGH adversity is how a man is forged. Phrack, it is refreshing to see that in a middle grade book.

Keeping in mind the target audience, I loved this story. O’Dell writes a character that inspires the reader instead of pandering to them. It is no wonder that O’Dell won so many awards and honorable mentions back in his heyday.

First 5star review of the year. While probably not a real contender for best book of the year, I think that a 96 page story about a 16 year old young man that can inspire a 40 year old like this deserves some attention. Ramon’s quiet fortitude and steady action is what is needed in more books today.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful ★★★☆½

hauntedhouseful (custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful
Series: ———-
Editor: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 262
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that purport to deal with haunted houses, things that go bump in the night and other such supernatural goings ons.

My Thoughts:

This was part of a “Young Readers” series put out with Hitchcock’s name on it. He wrote an introduction to each book but each consisted of short stories by other authors. I think I was introduced to these when I was 10 or 11 and I loved them. This particular one I re-read because I own it and needed a paper book to read while on lunch breaks. Kindles don’t deal well with sitting in a bookbag in sub-freezing weather for 8’ish hours.

Honestly, besides one story with a ghost and one story that involves a supposed haunted house, this book was more a collection of “boys adventure” stories than anything. Also, several of the stories are from other collections or novels. For example, one of the stories was the Sherlock Holmes “Mystery of the Red Headed League” and a long excerpt from “Tom Sawyer” that involved the story with Tom getting lost in the caves and finding treasure. Several of the other stories I am guessing were also parts of series that I simply wasn’t aware of.

That doesn’t mean they were bad stories, it’s just that the cover is extremely mis-leading. I did find the Sherlock Holmes story too long and the same for the Tom Sawyer excerpt. They weren’t nearly as short as the other short stories. I can easily see a 10 year old getting bored by them and putting the book down.

It helped lunch time pass tolerably well for a week or so, so I consider it to have succeeded at what I wanted it to do. I don’t have any desire to go search out any of the other “Alfred Hitchcock’s….” anthologies however.

★★★☆½

bookstooge (Custom)

Despicable Me (2010 Movie)

despicableme (small)Yeah, you probably thought I was going to talk about MYSELF didn’t you? Don’t try to deny it, I can see into your mind and I know your naughty thoughts!  Since I lied to you all in my 2018 in Review post and promised more movies in 2019, I figured I’d start the year off right with a movie that I absolutely love. Thanks to Orangutan Librarian for doing a post on Minions and reminding me to get this ball rolling.

I was late to this party (as is the case with almost all the movies I watch, excepting John Wick) but my goodness, I’m solidly in now.

Basic premise is that Gru is a villain who keeps getting upstaged by another younger villain. Gru decides he’s going to steal the moon but needs the prototype of the Shrink Ray to do so. Of course, Young Villain has already stolen the Shrink Ray. Gru adopts 3 girls who are selling girl scout cookies so he can slip robot cookies into the Fortress and steal the Shrink Ray. Gru ends up fully taking on the roll of the girls’ father and it begins to affect his performance as a villain. His resident mad scientist, Dr Nefario, gets the girls put back in the orphanage so Gru will concentrate on stealing the moon. Gru does steal the moon only to have Young Villain steal it from him. Young Villain also kidnaps the 3 girls to have leverage over Gru. Turns out the Shrink Ray isn’t permanent so Gru has to rescue the girls AND return the Moon so it doesn’t destroy the city. In the end Gru adopts the girls and everyone starts disco dancing at the girls’ performance of Swan Lake. Sigh, those silly minions!

 

The first thing that hooked me was the Minions:

minions

Boatloads of semi-stupid, nearly indestructible minions who talk in indecipherable french and love bananas. They are funny and got enough laughs to get their own movie later on.

They also are the window into who Gru truly is. He cares about his minions and knows all their names and their families. He’s not evil, just a villain. Gru starts off as a real bad ass and I loved him in that role.  How can you not love somebody who walks into a coffee shop, hollers out “FREEZE RAY!” and proceeds to walk up the line freezing everyone, grabbing the coffee and pastry for the first customer and then walking out the door?

freezeray (small)
Freeze Ray!

 

Then the girls come onto the scene and you know that Gru is going to turn into the man with a heart of gold.  Each of the girls is very unique and heartwarming in their own way.

285949c9cfa3ed1a9c4b821cfcc2365e-agnes-despicable-me-despicable-minions

 

 

Vector and his Father, who runs the Bank of Evil,  make for great “real” villains and are so ham handed and over the top and silly that there isn’t a shred of doubt that Gru will prevail. Kind of nice to have the Good vs Evil be so clear cut. Of course, for the target audience of 10 year olds, I’m sure it’s breathtakingly tantalizing if Gru will be The Good Guy or not!

736224_1321519835424_500_269

 

The ending is the perfect blend of silly, sappy and funny all rolled into one. Gru disco dancing with the girls is just priceless and is worth almost the whole movie just for that.

disco

 

 

Overall, this was so much fun. There were a lot of clever ideas and humorous gags and  I’ve been re-watching this regularly several times a year. Not tired of it yet! It also has heart in just the right amount to make me all manly blurry eyed. Completely recommend this. If you have watched Despicable Me, what did you think of it?

Next month I’m thinking of going over either The Transporter with Jason Statham or RED with Bruce Willis. Feel free to let me know your preference if you have one.

 

redtransporter

 

bookstooge (Custom)