Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fun's over, time to do the blog

I'm back!

I haven't really gone anywhere but real life gets in the way of blogging. Well, I did go to Chicago and look for ghosts with children's author Adam Selzer, though we didn't find any. Then we went back to Chicago again to see if we could find the best cheeseburger in the city. Much more research remains before a winner can be crowned.

My youngest son got a taste of city life while we sat in a park late one evening. A man who had perhaps drank a little too much plopped next to him and introduced himself as Pete. Within five minutes they were involved in a lively argument about whether Inspector Gadget said "Go go gadget hat!" or "Go go gadget copter!" when he needed to fly. I'm not sure this vitally important issue was ever decided. I'm not sure how the subject even came up. I'm not sure I want to know.

I love using Chicago as the locale of my stories, so I try to learn as much about the city as I can whenever we head up north. Last time, I spent an hour walking from one end of the Navy Pier to the other with a video camera glued to my eye. I'd written a specific scene that takes place there and I wanted to make sure I had it right. One day we spent over an hour near Michigan Avenue looking for a suitable alley for another story. These activities, of course, thrill my family to no end. I hear a lot of "Can we go now?" and "All right, already!"

Civilians. They'll never understand the heart of the true artist.

Dead Mother Report

I just finished reading Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce. At first glance you might say to yourself, "Aha! This is just a crummy ripoff of Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid books! But there is a red banner running across the top of the front cover with Kinney quoted as saying "Big Nate is funny, big time."

Big Nate appears in over 200 U.S. newspapers. So there.

Big Nate is what I call a hybrid book, one with text and pictures mixed together, like the Wimpy Kid books or Ruth McNally's Barshaw's Ellie McDoodle series. I'm sure the publishing industry has come up with its own nifty term for these books but I haven't been paying attention if
they have.

Anyway, Big Nate is a quick and enjoyable read. I had the plot figured out early on but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the characters and Nate's unending battle to stop being sent to detention. The artwork, while similar to Kinney's, is appealing, and the story is fun. This book should be very appealing to MG readers, especially boys.

What you want to know, of course, is whether or not there is a dead mother in this book. The answer is: I don't know. Nate has a somewhat stereotypical doofus dad and annoying older sister, but his mother is nowhere to be found. Is she dead? A zombie? A vampire? Did she run off with the milkman? Was she hit by a shrink ray and is trying to climb up a table leg in order to get the family's attention? The author gives us no clues.

Dead Mother Rating: Who the heck knows?

News of the weird:

From Illinois Homepage: An argument between a father and his adult son over the best way to change diapers sent one man to the hospital.

Gregory Bishop was fighting with his son about how he was changing his baby's diaper. Police say that the argument got physical and Bishop tried to get a knife to defend himself. In the process of doing that, he accidentally cut himself and had to be treated at a hospital in Springfield.

The son took off before police arrived to the scene. They say the baby was unharmed because its mother took the child from the bedroom when she heard the fight break out.

Email of the day:

Dear Dr. Missy,

Are all little boys weird or is it just mine? If I'm going to write books that will be appeal to them, I need to know what they are like.


Dear Concerned,

My little boys have grown up to be ginormous teenagers. One of them has a beard that makes him look fairly Amish. But here's a true story from when my youngest was a cute little bugger without any beard, Amish or otherwise:

We're at Bed, Bath & Beyond and I notice these rubber squishy balls near the checkout. They're about the size of a racquetball and are supposed to be used for relieving tension or as therapy to combat carpal tunnel. Since my youngest spawn is the fidgety type, I grabbed one for him to fidget with in the car. And since my wrist had been a little achy, I grabbed another one for me.

As it is with all things, my son insisted the balls be given names. He decided his would be Steve. I couldn't think of an appropriate name for a ball, so I snagged the first idea that flitted through my head and christened mine Hey Albert, which came from my failed attempt the night before to recall the name of the cartoon series, Hey Arnold.

Later that day, I walked into my bedroom to find my son sprawled on the bed on his stomach, staring at the two balls, which sat an inch part, unmoving.

"What's up?" I asked cleverly.

He gave me one of those "Duh!" looks. "Can't you see? Steve and Hey Albert are fighting."

Sure, why not? I left him there, a silent spectator to an epic battle between two enraged and motionless squishy balls. I never asked who won but I hope it was Hey Albert. There is such a thing as loyalty, after all.

So yeah, my son was fairly weird, but now he has actual prestigious universities vying for his attention despite the beard. So don't give up hope. I've got plenty more stories from where this one came from.


Dr. Missy