I’m Game

Every time I walk past the library’s new circulating board game collection, I remember all the spinners, dice, and busted game box corners in the basements of my childhood. We played the classics—Chinese Checkers, Connect 4, Risk—but also games that date me, based on TV shows I loved as a '70’s kid, like CHiPs and…
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Interesting Trees

Somehow I’ve made it through half my life without knowing bird songs, classical music, or trees.  It’s stunning to ponder how much I’ve missed over the years whenever I heard birds and left it at the simple thought, “Oh. Birds.”  Same goes for my typical reaction to the magnum opus of any given legendary composer…
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Frog and Toad’s Laws of Literary Motion

In my years selecting children’s books for the library, I have often envied the mathematical certainty of the hard sciences.  After all, when the Pythagorean theorem doesn’t work, it’s usually our own bad arithmetic at fault, and Plank’s Constant isn’t exactly wishy-washy.  It’s a little more difficult to make sense of children’s literature sometimes.  Perhaps…
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The Tao of Another Now

Amazon released an original series adaptation of The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick’s classic depiction of a postwar world ruled by the Nazis and Japanese. Hearing this, I headed for the basement to track down my old copy, a paperback on the inside cover of which I had scrawled my name and…
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Republish or Perish

Back in 3rd grade, my best friend hipped me to the wonders of Bertrand Brinley’s novel The Mad Scientist’s Club, about a group of boys who float a mannequin over their town’s Founder’s Day celebration, construct a remote controlled “monster” in a local lake, and wreak further havoc with various other products of their tinkering…
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Cranky Kirkus

“It has come to this: werewolves on The Titanic.” Favorite first lines of novels make great discussion fodder, but book reviews rarely begin with sentences as memorable as that one, which led off a review of Claudia Gray’s Fateful in the curmudgeon of professional book review journals, Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus is so notoriously grouchy there…
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May It Carry On

“One of those could beat me,” said my son, Ray. I had just read an item from the morning paper declaring the Greenland shark to be the oldest living vertebrate species on Earth. Between bites of his breakfast, Ray peered into a fishbowl full of freshwater clams he was training up for the Most Unusual…
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Where the Beefalo Roam

As an animal lover growing up in Kansas, our annual grade school field trip to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum was always a high point. I adored the famous Panorama of taxidermy, and the working, cutaway beehive, but what I looked forward to most was the chance to gaze upon a real jackalope…
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