Earthquake!

Title: Earthquake!
Author: Kathleen V. Kudlinski
Illustrator: Ronald Himler
Pages: 56
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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Another book set during the Great San Francisco Earthquake.

The Story.

Phillip can’t sleep. He probably could if silly Buster would stop barking and the horses would settle down. As it is, Phillip figures he’d better go check on the horses. After all, something might be wrong down there, and it wouldn’t due to have his father’s livery business damaged.

Phillip makes his way to the stables. Nothing’s wrong – the horses are just spooked. Wonder why that could be? And the mice are acting strangely, too, dashing around and out into the street like a cat’s on their tails. Only there’s no cat. Strange…

Suddenly, the world tilts. Nothing’s where it ought to be – the walls and floors are all breaking up and the screams of frightened horses are filling the air.

What is happening? Will the horses be alright? And is this affecting the whole city???

Discussion.

I thought that the family relationships in Earthquake! were excellent. Take Phillip’s little brother, Chester, for instance; he’s the tiniest bit of a scalawag and occasionally annoying, but Phillip never treats him meanly or thinks negatively of him. Phillip’s mother cares very passionately for her family. Instead of breaking down when her home is destroyed, she hugs Phillip and tells him “Remember, darling. We are all safe… Nothing – nothing – else matters.” [pg. 20] Phillip’s father prioritizes moving the family to safety, but trusts enough in Phillip’s maturity to leave him behind to protect the family business. Phillip bears this responsibility capably.

After Phillip spent a tense night with the horses, his father returned and informs him that the fire is so close that they must abandon the horses and seek to save their own lives. Having already risked his life to have stayed with the horses this long, Phillip vehemently disagrees with his father’s plan, insisting that they try to save the horses. It’s said in this scene that Phillip ‘screamed’ at his father, but it is unclear whether this is out of anger, or if that is the only way he can make himself heard due to the proximity of the fire. Phillip ends up freeing all of the horses, shooing them out into the street, nearly causing a stampede, and eventually herding them all out of town with his father.

To give the readers an idea of how tough one boy, Bobby Hunt, is, Phillip describes him as “the Bobby Hunt who used words like gad! and Jehoshaphat! right in school. The Bobby Hunt who tied broken glass to his kite strings to cut off everybody else’s kites in the sky. The Bobby Hunt who kicked the blind cocker spaniel when he thought nobody was looking.” [pg. 16] Although formerly uninterested in getting to know Bobby because he was so unpleasant, Phillip makes an effort to be friendly when he learns that Bobby’s parents died in a fire. They become half-way friends.

When the fire is almost upon the stables, Phillip says ‘Great Scott!’ I personally don’t have a problem with this phrase, but the writer said that by using these words he ‘cursed’. Just so’s you know.

After the earthquake, the stairs collapse under Phillip’s father. When it does so, it is said that he used an oath, but no actual words are given.

Conclusion. Good. While The Earth Dragon Awakes gave a taste of the wider panic and destruction of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Earthquake! describes its effect on one family. Purchase a copy here.

Goodwill Raid!

So, on the way to visiting my Grandmother’s house last weekend, my family and I stopped in at a Goodwill. Nothing unusual there. But what was unusual was the price system at that particular Goodwill. The books were ten for a dollar.

Yeah. So, I got a couple of books, you might say – forty-three to be exact. Some of them I am genuinely excited about; others, I will not deny, I purchased because they looked vaguely interesting and at $ .10 a pop were worth the risk.

An Apple a Day – $ .10 I enjoy reading collections of witty quotes. I had heard of Jo Petty’s Apples of Gold, but never of this effort.

Little Women – $ .10 I already owned a copy of Little Women, but this one was in much better condition, and for ten cents, was quite worth the purchase.

Is Jesus Alive Today? – $ .10 A tiny book defending the Scriptural teaching that Christ has risen from the dead. It includes long passages of Scriptures as well as tiny written pieces by prominent apologists such as Lee Strobel and Hank Hanegraaff.

Sparrow Song – $ .10 A collection of illustrated children’s poems.

Wordsworth and His World – $ .10 This biography of William Wordsworth, the famous poet, is filled with authentic photographs and selections of Wordsworth’s writings.

Garfield Honor – $ .10 Apparently set in Texas during the aftermath of the War Between the States, Garfield Honor is about a veteran of that war who ruthlessly seeks political power.

The School of Donne – $ .10 An examination of John Donne’s literary accomplishments.

Peter Pembroke, Apprentice – $ .10 The story begins in 1723, as young Peter Pembroke lands at Boston, Massachusetts and assumes the role of apprentice to Thomas Fisher, cabinetmaker. While in Boston he not only learns his trade but also becomes friends with young Ben Franklin and attends the church where Cotton Mather preaches.

Detectives of the Sky – $ .10 Ever since their invention, Aircraft – planes, helicopters, jets, etc. – have played a significant role in everyday life as well as in times of great danger. But what of the times where flights went wrong? It is in Detectives of the Sky that we hear these occasions explained.

Black Duck – $ .10 A children’s story set during the Prohibition years, Black Duck tells the story of several children who become involved with the illegal smuggling of liquor in Rhode Island. It will be really interesting to see how the author handles her subject matter.

The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature – $ .10 This book is amazing! It’s an encyclopedia of literary terms, characters, books, and authors. I have found it to be exhaustive – it even has sections on Ballantyne and Henty!

Six Great Modern Short Novels – $ .10 A collection of novelettes by authors like James Joyce, Herman Melville (not sure why he’s considered modern), and William Faulkner.

Belles on Their Toes – $ .10 The sequel to Cheaper By the Dozen, Belles on their Toes continues the story of the Gilbreth family and their hilarious escapades. Although I did not approve of all of the content in Cheaper By the Dozen, many of the stories were tremendously enjoyable.

The Hobbit – $ .10 I’ve never read any of Mr. Tolkien’s stories, but I figured that if I were to ever be interested in them, this was the price to pay.

Conagher – $ .10
Showdown at Yellow Butte – $ .10
The Burning Hills – $ .10
I decided that for ten cents each  it was worth trying out a few different Louis L’Amour books.

The Odyssey – $ .10 As much as I enjoy epic poetry and legends, I have not yet read Homer’s Odyssey. I hope to get around to it soon.

The Pearl – $ .10 I did not enjoy John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, but in looking through The Pearl I didn’t see a single curse word. I thought it might be tolerable, so I’m giving Steinbeck another try.

Summer of My German Soldier – $ .10 I purchased this thinking it might be a Newberry winner, but I was wrong. :|

The Ministry of Intercession – $ .10
The Prayer of Life – $ .10
With Christ in the School of Prayer – $ .10
Andrew Murray isn’t my favorite theologian, but his writings on prayer are practical and insightful.

Robinson Crusoe – $ .10 I liked this copy better than the one that I already owned.

Moonfleet – $ .10 I hadn’t heard of Moonfleet prior to finding it on the shelf, but it looks super interesting. It tells the story of John Trenchard, a young boy who becomes entangled in a struggle between smugglers and revenue men during the 1700s. I’m counting on it to be similar to The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. (I’m excited about this one!)

A Wrinkle in Time – $ .10 The sole Newberry Winner that I found, A Wrinkle in Time is a fantasy that includes centaurs, magic, and time travel. Not my style.

Monsieur Pamplemousse – $ .10 I had never heard of Michael Bond’s detective, Monsieur Pamplemousse, but apparently he is a French bon-vivant-turned-detective. He is a great lover of food and solves ‘gastronomic mysteries’. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds delectable!

Across the River and into the Trees – $ .10 I was not particularly enraptured by Hemingway’s story, The Old Man and the Sea, so I thought I’d try one of his less well-known stories.

The Pursuit of Holiness – $ .10 Perhaps my favorite purchase of the lot, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges examines the holiness of God and why we should always be striving towards a greater imitation of it. Mr. Bridges quotes J. C. Ryle, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and other notable theologians as he exhorts Christians in their walk of sanctification.

The American Short Story – $ .10 A collection of short stories by prominent authors such as Ambrose Bierce, Stephan Crane, Hemingway, O’Connor, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. A few plays by these authors are included as well.

Shaw: The Style and the Man – $ .10 An account of George Bernard Shaw’s life and a critique of his style. I shall be interested in reading this as I have read many of his plays and alternatively delight in and detest them.

Karen – $ .10 This book was written by the mother of a severely handicapped child and records how she fought for and brought up her daughter. It is a tale of love and joy amidst tough circumstances.

A Mother Is Love – $ .10 A collection of writings by prominent authors, actresses and stateswomen praising their mothers.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales – $ .10 I haven’t enjoyed most of what I’ve read by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but I loved his short story ‘The Celestial Railroad’ and did not own a copy. It is included in this collection.

The Five-Minute Mysteries Reader – $ .10 This book is FUN. It contains 76 chapters; each of the chapters is a 2-3 page mystery which is unsolved. Enough clues are provided to aid you towards the proper solution and the real answers are included in the back. Obviously the mysteries aren’t fantastic –each is only a few pages long and there’s no time for exposition – but they are still enjoyable.

Ethan Frome – $ .10
The Case for Christ – $ .10
Prince Caspian – $ .10
I already owned copies of each of these three books. One of my ‘book goals’ is to see how inexpensively I can furnish my library. So, when I find a cheaper copy of a book that I own and know I can resell, I make the purchase and drive my ‘average price spent per book’ down. It’s great fun. :)

Pride and Prejudice – $ .10 I own Barnes and Nobles’ Seven Novels (a collection of Jane Austen’s novels), but I didn’t have an individual copy of any of them.

Treasure Island – $ .10
Black Beauty – $ .10
As much as I like hard covers – especially the pretty ones with gold gilding – I have this soft spot for soft covers. That’s why I snatched up these two books even though I already had pretty hard cover copies of them.

Total Spent = $ 4.30

Total Value = $ 108.19
(ten books were unpriced – these were left unaccounted)

Next Foreseeable Book Acquisition Date = August 4, 2012

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

Title: The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog
Author: John R. Erickson
Pages: 127
Reading Level: 10 & up
Star Rating: Undetermined

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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I read so much about Hank the Cowdog in Mr. Erickson’s book Story Craft that I felt like I had already met Hank. And in a way I had. But the only way to really know Hank is to read his own flamboyant account of himself in The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog.

The Story.

Hank the Cowdog is saddled with a mighty heavy responsibility. He is Head of Ranch Security and together with his sidekick Drover he protects his farm and upholds the dignity of the Ranch by engaging in nightly barking contests with the outlaw coyotes. Life is hopping along just fine until tragedy strikes – a chicken is found murdered on the ranch premises. Hank hastily bends all of his detective powers to the test, scrounges for clues, and even apprehends a few suspects, but before he can solve the crime another bird is found dead.

Although grief-stricken at this loss, Hank cannot reconcile himself to wasting a perfectly good chicken, so he does the only thing any sensible cowdog would do. He eats it. That is his first mistake. The second mistake is gulping it down in such a hurry that he drops off into a snooze lying among the cast-off feathers and bones of the chicken. And it is there that Hank’s owner, Sally May finds him several hours later.

Although Hank is entirely innocent of the crime, the circumstantial evidence all points in his direction and Sally May blames him for the murder. Consumed with despair and bitterness, Hank makes up his mind to abandon his lofty position and join the outlaw coyotes who have been loitering around the ranch.

Has Hank lost his moral sense altogether? Or is this part of some greater, undercover plan of his to apprehend the real criminal?

Funny Quotes.

Hank is probably the most original – and hilarious – narrator I’ve ever come across. Here are a few examples of his style.

The coyote hasn’t been built who can out-yap Hank the Cowdog.

A little before dawn, Loper, one of the cowboys on this outfit, stuck his head out the door and bellered, “Shut up that yapping, you idiot!” I guess he thought there was only one coyote out there.

They kept it up and I gave it back to them. Next time Loper came to the door, he was armed. He fired a gun into the air and squalled, something about how a man couldn’t sleep around here with all the dad-danged noise. I agreed.

Would you believe it? Them coyotes yipped louder than ever, and I had no choice but to give it back to them.

Loper came back out on the porch and fired another shot. This one came so close to me that I heard the hum. Loper must have lost his bearings or something, so I barked louder than ever to give him my position, and, you know, to let him know that I was out there protecting the ranch.

The next bullet just derned near got me. I mean, I felt the wind of it as it went past. That was enough for me. I shut her down for the night. If Loper couldn’t aim any better than that, he was liable to hurt somebody. [pgs. 3-4]

Obviously, Loper knew exactly where he was aiming…..

That business about the secret was the perfect stroke, and it probably saved my life. In desperation, I had lucked into it. Turns out that coyotes are superstitious animals, even though they’re known to be cunning and vijalent vijalunt vijallunt vijjullunt…..

I don’t know how to spell that word. Spelling is a pain in the neck. I do my best with it, but I figger if a guy has tremendous gifts as a writer, his audience will forgive a few slip-ups in the spelling department.

I mean, it doesn’t take any brains to open a dickshunary and look up a word. Anybody can do that. The real test of a writer comes in the creative process. I try to attend to the big picture, don’t you see, and let the spelling take care of itself.

Vidgalent. Vidgallunt. Still doesn’t look right. [pgs. 85-86]

We may presume that if Hank were a stellar speller he would consider it to be the most glorious art on earth….

“In a way I felt sorry for the coon, even though he’d committed a crime and become my mortal enemy. With me on his trail, the little guy just didn’t have a chance. One of the disadvantages of being as big and deadly as I am, is that you sometimes find yourself in sympathy with the other guy.”

Hank undoubtedly has an *ahem* swelled opinion of himself, but he does work dilijently dillijently dilajintly dillajuntlee earnestly at his job. Granted, his antics generally counteract the work that he does get done, but at least he tries.

Cautions.

Hank and Drover unmercifully taunt a bull-dog on their trip into town.

On one occasion Hank and a few coyotes get drunk on silage. Afterwards they act goofy, singing songs and the like.

Several times Hank brags about his success with ‘the women’ (meaning female dogs). For example:

“I’d seen women before, lots of ‘em, scads of ‘em. I’d been through times in my life when women were hanging all over me, and I literally couldn’t take a step without bumping into an adoring female.

If you’re a cowdog, you get used to this. It’s common knowledge that cowdogs are just a little bit special. Read your dog books, ask anyone who knows about dogs, check it out with the experts. They’ll tell you that women flip over cowdogs.

What I’m saying – and I’m just trying to put it all into perspective, don’t you see – is that I wasn’t one of these dogs that chased women all the time or even had much interest in them.

But you know what? When I seen Miss Coyote’s face, with those big eyes and that fine tapered nose, I got weak in the legs and kind of swimmy in the head. She was the by George prettiest thang I’d ever laid eyes on.” [pgs. 70-71]

There are no actual curse words in this book but several expressions such as ‘gee’, ‘dang’, ‘darn’, ‘heck’, ‘holy cats’, ‘son of a gun’, ‘by George’, ‘shucks’, and ‘golly’ are sprinkled throughout the book. There is also some name calling (nothing vulgar, but a little rough).

Conclusion. I, as a young adult, enjoy reading Hank the Cowdog. I find it offers me perspective and relaxation when I’m stressed, and, because of my age, I am able to enjoy the humor and leave the silliness behind. However, I do not believe that young readers will be able to read Hank the Cowdog without being encouraged in silliness and sarcasm. For this reason, I do not recommend Hank the Cowdog for young readers, while reserving the right to enjoy it myself.

Note: This review is of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog not the entire Hank the Cowdog series.