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September 23, 2010 Edition
ggdrasil Birnbaum – Iggy, to her friends - lives with her family in the Hotel Hermione in Los Angeles, which is no longer a hotel – it got too haunted. Now it’s been carved up into apartments, with one reserved for the ghosts’ use. Though the ghosts get bored and often end up in Iggy’s bedroom, since she’s known them all since she was a baby, she’s not afraid of them at all. Most of them are friendly, but the friendliest is her best friend Chase, the ghost rabbit. When Iggy realizes that some of the ghosts seem to have gone missing (starting with the La Brea woman), she recruits her friends Neddie and Seamus to help her find out what’s going on, and in trademark Pinkwater wit and style, they venture into the ghostly realms of LA.
Both of Sam’s parents have died of the Disease and he is leaving the city to live with an aunt he hardly knows out in the bush. He knows he won’t like it there: there’s no electricity, so he doesn’t get to take his computer and his aunt has already figured out which of his cousins will fit in Sam’s clothes. He’s never had to share clothes in his life! Or a bedroom, let alone sleep on a mat on the floor. Slowly, Sam gets used to the way everyone talks in Mandingwe, and to hanging his clothes on a nail, and his cousins get used to his blue running shoes, and to teaching him how to do everything. He misses his parents, especially his mother, desperately, but eventually, with the help of his extended family and new friends, finds room in his heart for his new family alongside the ones he’s lost.
The ad for the governess position specifies that an energetic governess with experience with animals was needed at Ashton Place, and Penelope Lumley, graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is just the person for the job. She loves animals and has been well-trained to work as a governess in any type of family – or so she thinks. When she discovers that her new charges are three orphans who were raised by wolves, she is a little taken aback, but she rises to the occasion with as much aplomb, firmness, and rolled-up newspaper as she can find. Her assignment: to turn the three matted-haired, growling, howling animals into presentable children by the time of Lady Constance’s holiday ball. The difficulty: Penelope knows all about Latin grammar and not so much about ballrooms manners. To top it off, someone wants her to fail, and what will happen to her and the children then? Fans of Joan Aiken and Lemony Snicket will find much here to delight them!
Fourteen year-old Dewey and his eighteen year-old sister have been keeping things going at home while their parents are on their annual anniversary trip. They’ve got a great routine going: the chores are getting done, the little ones are getting fed and bathed and off to summer camp, and their family bike repair business is being run efficiently (though perhaps not completely happily) by the two older boys – but then, Dad calls to say they’re out of gas. And he doesn’t mean just them: the whole country, maybe the whole world, has finally run out of gas. As thirteen year-old Vince says, it’s a crunch. Weeks go by and, as the town adjusts to life-by-bike, the repair business gets more and more hectic and customers get more and more demanding. And then parts start going missing. Who is the thief? What is Dewey supposed to do? Is life as they knew it gone forever? And how long till Mom and Dad get home, anyway?