Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do as I Say, Not as I do!!!

In my last blog, I extolled the virtues of writing even when you don't feel like it. So naturally, it has been nearly two weeks since I've written anything - unless you count the occasional tweet, Facebook status, or grocery list - which I don't.

Life sneaks up on you. I realized that I had managed to procrastinate all summer on getting my kids their dental appointments and check-ups. With only a couple weeks until starting back to work, I was suddenly under some deadlines! I've managed to get all the kids in, but there are now cavities, wisdom tooth extractions, and orthodontic consultations to plan for. Not one, not two, but three orthodontic consultations! Let me tell you this, boys and girls, do NOT neglect your teeth!!! We are regrettably lax in our household about our daily dental care, and it has caught up with us!

Emma as "Rich Person"
And our Emma is now home after a fabulous fun-filled and dance-heavy month in Anaheim. She met lots of people from all over the country and even the world, and most importantly, she feels she has become a better dancer. Here she is in one of the costumes she wore for their final show. There were a number of costumes, but this is my favorite. Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? She is off this morning to a job interview of sorts. Best part; she's driving herself! Now, we just need to get her a vehicle of her own, so Mom and the rest of the kids aren't stranded when she goes somewhere.

There have been a few nice days sprinkled in, but the rain continues for the most part. While the housework beckons, I decided to sneak in a book review before the kids get up. Today's book is "The Fourth Stall," by Chris Rylander. This book was a bit of a sleeper for me. I picked it off the shelf at my library because I knew it was popular with boys from the middle grades. It didn't grab me right away. I was not instantly struck with an intense desire to find out what happens next. But it had a sneaky way of building up, and by about six chapters in, I was hooked. I kept finding time to slip off to my room to read another chapter or two.

The whole concept of the book is clever and imaginative. Mac is a 6th grader, a little on the small side, not much of an athlete, not much to look at, but he more or less runs his school. You see, Mac and his bestie, Vince, operate a business out of the fourth stall of an unused restroom. Mac is the problem solver. Vince is the manager. Together they make peoples troubles go away in exchange for money or favors. Generally, it's nothing illegal; Mac and Vince are nice guys, and they don't want to see anyone get hurt. But then someone else moves in on Mac's territory, and starts an all-out war.

I expected to dislike Mac. Given the premise of the book, I thought he would be one of those thoroughly smart-mouthed kids who are too big for their britches. Surprisingly, Mac is a thoroughly likeable guy. He is smart and resourceful, but also compassionate and intuitive. And in Staples, Rylander manages to create a villain who is at once detestable and sympathetic. Some of the funniest moments in the book come when Vince quotes metaphors from his senile grandma, such as "Don't wash the cat until the raccoon eats his glue stick."

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. We have books two and three at our library, and while I won't be beating down the door to get to them, I will probably read them eventually. Even if these are books that don't pique my own personal interest, they are well done, and their appeal to middle grade boys is obvious and undeniable.

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