#920 I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris GrabensteinI Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jaime’s uncle has told him about a comedy contest for young people and Jaime has decided that he needs to enter the contest. He practices his jokes out on the people who come to his uncle’s diner and on his uncle’s family. Jaime lives with his uncle ever since the thing that happened that put him in a wheelchair.

That’s what makes Jaime different from other kids; he’s in a wheelchair. None of his friends know why yet. They don’t know why he lives with his uncle and his family instead of his parents.

Some people really like Jaime’s jokes, while others might groan. Jaime looks for everyday events to tell jokes about. At the content, things go well. Some people say it’s because he’s in a wheelchair and people felt sorry for him, but others tell Jaime that it’s because he’s truly funny. He begins to open up to his new friend about his life and about the thing that happened. The thing that happened was actually pretty awful and it took a long time for Jaime to get over it, physically. It’s still hard to get over it mentally, but with the help of his uncle’s family and his friends, Jaime’s doing ok and he is funny.

What I liked

I actually liked this James Patterson book. Granted, he did not write it himself, it’s still the best James Patterson book I’ve read. I think this book does a good job of being comedic, but having a reason for someone wanting to be funny. Jaime wants to be funny to help get over a tragedy that occurred in his life. His life got completely turned upside down, but this stand-up competition, or sit down competition in his case, is an effort on his part to move on with his life. Moving on from something awful is an important part of life. How we move on from things can make or break some other things in the rest of our lives. We have to choose to get up and keep moving, just as Jaime has in this story. It’s quite admirable.

What I didn’t like

The thing that happens to Jaime is a little harsh. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s a lot to think about. It could be a little much for some younger people.


Sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh about something.

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If some terrible catastrophe happened in your life, how long would it take for you to laugh?

What do you think about people who are always telling jokes?

#919 Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston

Dirty Work by Gabriel WestonDirty Work by Gabriel Weston

Nancy is an ObGyn doctor, but hasn’t been one for very long. Something awful has happened. There was a surgery, thought to be routine, which turned out disastrous. There was blood and more blood. She didn’t know what to do. Another doctor had to come in and make sure the woman didn’t die. Now Nancy must face a tribunal to determine whether or not she can still be employed at the hospital.

Nancy recalls other things in her life. She was in school. She had a mother. She used to provide abortions to women who justified their reasons, just as she justified her reasons for doing abortions. She reasoned that she wasn’t asked, she just did it when she was told to do it. She did early abortions and some a little later, but she never did late-term abortions. She didn’t know if she could do it.

She hopes that she will still be able to be a doctor.

What I liked

I do like that this book tackles what happens when a doctor makes a mistake. Doctors have bad days too and those bad days can end lives, but it’s not like the doctor meant to do it. Should an entire career be ruined because of a mistake? It’s a question of ethics of course.

What I didn’t like

I kind of feel like this book is just trying to champion abortion, or at least in part it is. Look, I’ve said it before–I think abortions should be legal; I don’t want women dying in back alleys because they were trying to get an illegal abortion. I don’t want women who have been raped having to carry a baby to term. I also don’t want abortion to be used as a birth control method. There should probably be a middle-ground, maybe we’ll get there some day.

I did feel that there was some ethical dilemmas that the main character faced. I think she tried to tell herself that providing abortions couldn’t affect her, but I think it did to a degree.

I kind of feel like the main character was really cold. She seemed a little inhuman, but that may just be my take on it.


Doctors make mistakes just like normal people.

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What would you do if your doctor made a mistake?

Should doctors be held accountable for mistakes?

#918 The Chocolate Sundae Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Chocolate Sundae Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Chocolate Sundae Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens go to their favorite ice cream parlor, but it’s different and they’re not sure they like it. The decor is different and the people are different. They learn that the ice cream parlor has been sold. Things aren’t going well with the new owner yet, so the Aldens immediately volunteer to help out. They wait tables; they make sundaes and sodas.

As always, strange stuff starts happening. Ice Cream disappears. The whipped cream is sour. People complain. Who would be stealing ice cream? The Aldens plan a sting to catch the ice cream thief.

What I liked

I like ice cream fairly well, so a book about ice cream isn’t bad.

What I didn’t like

Ok, so ghosts aren’t real, but precognitive dreams are? Benny dreams that glass is broken in the ice cream parlor and glass is actually broken in the ice cream parlor, which Benny did not do.

I’m not dissing on precognitive dreaming at all, but it is “woo.” The problem with woo in this book is that this series is notoriously anti-woo. This inclusion of woo is not consistent with the series. The Aldens are never going to find Big Foot or get abducted by aliens. A precognitive dream should not be a plot point in a world where woo is not appreciated.


Someone stole my dang ice cream cone.

Weigh in

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Would Sherlock Holmes use a psychic?

#917 Maggie Rose and Sass by Eunice Boeve

Maggie Rose and Sass by Eunice BoeveMaggie Rose and Sass by Eunice Boeve

Unfortunately, Maggie’s father died then she went to live with her grandmother, who also died. The only family member left for her to live with was her uncle. He lived far away in a town called Solomon Town. The town was not as Maggie expected when she arrived. She is surprised to find that she is the only white girl there. The town was almost entirely composed of people who were once slaves.

Maggie has never been around this many black people before and she believes a lot of the things her grandmother used to say about anybody who wasn’t white. She doesn’t want to make friends with the local girls, including one named Sass, who got her name purely because she was sassy.

Sass says that Maggie is nothing but an uppity white girl.

Both girls end up realizing that just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they’re any less human.

What I liked

I do tend to like books where children can learn that other people are people too. It doesn’t matter what color, gender, or whatever, they are. Other people are equally as valid as people, despite any differences. I do think this book does a fairly good job of having both children realize good things about the other. The book does acknowledge that one people could be unfair to the other.

What I didn’t like

This book does use the word “colored” a lot. I quit talking to a guy once because he called Barack Obama “colored,” and I’m not even that big of a fan of Barack. Look, sure, he’s not all the way white, but that doesn’t mean calling someone “colored” is ok. We’re all various colors. This book doesn’t have the more derogatory term in the text, which is good. Both terms are derogatory and you probably shouldn’t use them, but I do get that this author was trying to be a little more tactful and historically accurate by using the term she used. People didn’t go around saying “African-American” back when this book was set. They did say things that were worse than the word she did use though. I just don’t like hearing the term she did use.


To quote Dr. Suess–“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Just substitute in something else for “small,” and fix whatever grammar needed to make it make sense.

Weigh In

Do you think you could fit in a neighborhood where you were the only person of your race?

Was there a point when you came to appreciate all people as people or did you always do so?

#916 Superstar Watch created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Superstar Watch created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerSuperstar Watch created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children hear about a contest for dogs. The winning dog gets to be in a dog food commercial. The reason the Aldens want to prize money is to help a friend get his bicycle repaired. Things are promising in the beginning. Watch makes the first cut of the auditions. When it comes time for the dogs to try the food on camera, several of the dogs won’t eat the dog food, but one of them will. There is something wrong with the dog food, but what? Why would there be anything wrong with the dog food in the first place?

What I liked

I like animals as much as anyone else, so that’s a good point to this story. There is also a bit in the book about essential oils that dogs don’t like, which might be accurate for smells they don’t like, but I’m not sure they would not eat dog food if it had those oils on it.

What I didn’t like

I’m not sure how I feel about animals in commercials. I like watching commercials with animals, but I’m not entirely sure how well those animals are treated. Maybe some of them are treated very well. I definitely think the situations where people take animals out of the shelter system and train them for various reasons are doing a good thing. I remember a few years ago that a family, who got dogs out of shelters and taught them to perform, won America’s Got Talent . I thought they were an impressive group of people. I cannot say that all commercial animals have the same origins, but it would be nice if they did.


Cat loves food, yeah, yeah, yeah…oh wait, this one is about dogs.

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Would you put your pet in a commercial?

Are you for animals being trained for entertainment?