Kris Milstead

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The Offbeat Alamanac – July 2021

July 1 as everyone knows is Canada Day, but it is also International Joke Day! Speaking of…. do you want to hear a construction joke? Oh, sorry, I’m still working on it! Don’t like that one? Did you hear the about the guy who invented the door knocker? He won the No-Bell prize!

July 2 is I Forgot Day! What does this holiday represent? I can’t remember! I do know that today offers the chance to make up for all those birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates you have or will forget. Do something nice for someone you love and when they ask why, tell them “I forgot!” Trust me, they’ll be so pleased with the gift they won’t even notice the weirdness!

July 3 marks the 76th anniversary of Superman Day. Sure, DC Comics has tried to say Superman Day is June 14, but on this date the 1939 World’s Fair marked Superman Day, and the first public appearance of Superman himself (portrayed by Ray Middleton). Instead of leaping some tall buildings or stopping bullets, celebrate today by binge watching all the Superman movies. On second thought, skip III and IV.

July 4 is of course Independence Day but it is also Independence from Meat Day! Why they picked a day full of hot dogs, hamburgers, and general barbecue for this day is beyond me. I suggest a new day: Independence from Indepence from Meat Day! Think of bacon going to waste! You owe it to your country! Trust me, I would never steer you wrong!

July 5 is Work-A-Holics Day! Most of us still have a day off for Independence (from meat) Day. If you have to work though (or have a column due), know that there is a holiday just for you. Now stop lollygagging and get back to work, peon! These columns don’t write themselves!

July 6 is Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day! Webmasters work hard behind the scenes making things presentable. Show your appreciation by taking them out for a cup of java. Don’t keep them out too long though, they’ll want to be back in a flash!

July 7 I cannot tell a lie – today is Tell The Truth Day! Imagine a world in which nobody lies, does anything misleading, or is dishonest in any way. In other words, a world without politicians!

July 8 is Cow Appreciation Day! Really, some of these holidays are udderly ridiculous! Whoever makes these things up needs to cud it out. Sorry, mooving on…

July 9 is Bald Is In Day! Honestly, I figured today was Patrick Stewart’s birthday, but that’s not for another four days. If you’re bald, today is your day! Wear it proudly, and think of the money you save on shampoo!

July 10 Last year we celebrated Teddy Bear Picnic Day and personally I think this day bears repeating! While you and Teddy are spending quality time together, you can also observe Don’t Step on a Bee Day!

July 11 is International Town Criers Day! Town criers are no longer a thing, but you can bring this tradition back by strolling through your town early in the morning announcing the news! Just watch out for flying newspapers!

July 12 is Different Colored Eyes Day! If you lived during the middle ages and had different colored eyes you’d probably wind up branded a witch. Today we recognize it as a semi-unusual genetic thing, generally caused by inbreeding. Kind of makes you look at those folks with new eyes doesn’t it?

July 13 is National French Fries Day! Celebrate by indulging in a plate of hot fries with tons of ketchup. Or if you prefer a more international flair, add some cheese curds and gravy and voila poutine! Avoid dipping them in mayonnaise though – that’s just barbaric!

July 14 might be a bit more difficult to observe with International Nude Day! I suggest celebrating this one in private with the curtains drawn. You don’t want to wind up as inspiration for Ugly Naked Person in the Friends remake!

July 15 is Be A Dork Day! I’ve pretty much got this one down on a daily basis, but for those of you who fall into the more poised category observe today by tripping over your shoe laces or not shutting up long after you realize you should have! Those of us who are about to be thrust into an unwanted spotlight, thank you.

July 16 is World Snake Day! Considering I shrieked at the sight of an animated snake in a Disney movie (true story – see Be A Dork Day), you can rest assured I will NOT be celebrating this holiday! As such, I have no advice for you on how to observe today other than keep it far away from me, please!

July 17 is Yellow Pig Day! Apparently this holiday was invented in the early 1960’s when a couple of mathematicians became obsessed with the properties of the number 17. For reasons that are still unclear, this evolved into a yellow pig with 17 eyelashes. Personally, I think that the mathematicians might have been dipping into the ethanol with the chemists!

July 18 offers the opportunity to make up for that time you told your spouse “Yes, that outfit does make you look fat,” or called your mother-in-law an “insufferable witch.” It’s Get Out of the Doghouse Day! Apologize, claim temporary insanity, alien abduction, whatever you need to get back in good graces. At least until the next time you decide your foot would make a tasty meal!

July 19 is Daiquiri Day! Celebrate by laying back in a hammock and sipping one of these cool and refreshing drinks. Be careful not to over indulge though or you won’t be able to get out of the hammock which means, well, your butt will be in a sling!

July 20 has a literary theme with Take Your Poet to Work Day. Actually, this is a very bad idea. Most of us literary types prefer as little social interaction as possible. Taking us to work would create a need for small talk and a request for us to recite poetry on demand. You would never be able to face your co-workers again. Trust me, this way leads to madness!

July 21 is No Pet Store Puppies Day! Even though I’m a cat person, I can still appreciate today. If you’re in the market for a puppy consider visiting your local animal shelter. I’m sure that if you paws long enough to comb your hair and tuck in your shirt, that there is a puppy (or older dog) ready and willing to adopt you! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

July 22 brings up another one of those math holidays with Pi Approximation Day! Also known as Casual Pi Day, plays on the fact that the fraction 22/7 is a common approximation of pi. It seems the mathematicians have again been dipping into the ethanol but hey, anything that invents an excuse to eat more pie is a good idea to me!

July 23 is Gorgeous Grandma Day! I don’t know if there’s a Gorgeous Grandpa Day, but I feel as if there should be. In the interest of equality, give your gorgeous grandparent a call to tell them how much you appreciate them. Or, send cookies. Nothing says I love you like a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Make sure you send some to the columnist as well. You know, for quality control.

July 24 is Tell and Old Joke Day! I don’t know what the oldest joke is but it’s probably a bad dad joke like “I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry, I’m Dad!” Celebrate today by telling everyone your oldest and most groan worthy jokes. You’ll probably get some slaps but you might get a chuckle or two making it all worth it!

July 25 is a real whirlwind with Merry Go Round Day! Also listed as Carousel Day, today is designed to bring awareness to the decline in working carousels around the country. If you don’t have a carousel nearby, go to your local park and take a ride on the Merry Go Round. Just don’t eat any hot dogs first, or drink any of the tequila from National Tequila Day (July 24) or you’ll be very very sorry!

July 26 is one of those holidays that you either celebrate big or don’t celebrate at all. It’s All or Nothing Day! Carpe Diem! Go big or go home! Other outdated cliches! The point is whatever you do today, give it your all. Even if you’re like me and some days “all” means putting on pants.

July 27 is Take Your Houseplant For a Walk Day. I almost reported this as take your PANTS for a walk day. I’m not sure if this was my error or that of the ones who make up these days. At any rate, to be on the safe side, wear pants when you take your house plant for a walk. That incident with the neighborhood watch is still pretty fresh in our minds!

July 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day! Observe by eating lots of milk chocolate or lots of chocolate milk! Either way, today demands celebration! You wouldn’t want to let me down would you?

July 29 is National Talk in an Elevator Day! I’m not sure today should be a holiday, but I don’t make the rules (or the holidays). It’s a brave person who talks in the elevator, so take that newfound confidence from All or Nothing Day and give a hearty hello to your fellow riders! If there’s no one there, you can talk to the security camera. No one ever says Hi to them.

July 30 is a bibliophile’s dream with Paperback Book Day! Shut down your kindle, find a shady spot under a tree or next to the pool and whip out your paperback book! If anyone bothers you, you can bop them over the head with it for interrupting your reading!

July 31 is Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day! Before you call me a lyre, check your own sources and you will find that accordion to the calendar, I’m correct! Don’t worry, I won’t harp on the fact that I was right.

The Offbeat Almanac – May 2021

May 1 is for the Superhero lovers out there. Today is Batman Day! On this day in 1939 the mysterious Caped Crusader made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. So don your costume and stream the Snyder cut of Justice League. Add some extra butter to your microwave popcorn to make up for the four hours you’re about to lose.

May 2 is Baby Day! Admittedly, not everyone loves babies. They’re wrinkly, cry a lot, and are prone to urinating on you at any given moment. Just for today though, give a baby a coo or a smile. Remember, you were once a wrinkly, crying, pooping and peeing machine!

May 3 is National Two Different Colored Shoes Day! I may risk getting off on the wrong foot here, but today is a day to show your wacky and zany side! Today is the perfect excuse to wear a striped shoe with a polka dotted shoe, or on the subtle side, a black and a brown shoe. Hop to it! You know you’re itching to! (You should get some foot cream for that, by the way)

May 4 is, of course, Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you), but it is also Renewal Day. Today is a day for new beginnings. Renew your wedding vows! Renew your favorite magazine subscription! Renew your commitment to watching all twelve Star Wars movies in a single sitting!

May 5 is Food Poison Yourself Day! OK, I might have made that one up. Today is actually Oyster Day. Oysters are best consumed in months with an R in them, but May is a borderline month so it might still be OK. Proceed with caution, and clam up if you suspect something fishy!

May 6 is No Diet Day! I definitely plan on celebrating this day! Just for today, allow yourself a cheat day. Enjoy that extra slice of cake or that extra chocolate bar. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet!

May 7 is in cahoots with No Diet Day as it is No Pants Day! Let’s be honest though, hasn’t the entire past year been one long No Pants Day?

May 8 is a day to celebrate the warmer weather! Today is No Socks Day! Wiggle the toes in the fresh green grass, walk barefoot in the sand, or simply wander around your house with no socks. Just make sure you don’t step on any toes! You wouldn’t want people to think you’re a heel!

May 09 is the day you pay the price for yesterday. Today is Lost Sock Memorial Day! Take a moment of silence to pay your respects to all those missing socks. Where DO they go, anyway? I think we need to get Mulder and Scully on this one!

May 10 is Clean Up Your Room Day! Honestly, this doesn’t sound like a particularly fun holiday, but it is an occasional necessity. Celebrate in a quick and easy fashion by grabbing a giant box, throwing everything in it and tossing it in your closet! Problem solved, right? Well, at least until Clean Your Closet Day comes around.

May 11 is yet another holiday that will leave you wondering who the heck comes up with these days! Today is Root Canal Appreciation Day. The only appreciation I imagine anyone has for a root canal is when it’s over. Still, mark your clock to celebrate at 2:30!

May 12 brings us back to fun holidays with Limerick Day! On this day in 2021 a columnist turned plum. She had a column to write but it took all night. Finally she started to scream
because she sucks at limericks!

May 13 is Top Gun Day! Throw on a leather jacket and some cheap aviator sunglasses and go sing some bad karaoke! Quote lines from the movie all day! Just don’t forget to take a moment of silence for Goose.

May 14 is Dance Like A Chicken Day! Don’t let today get you down! Celebrate by dancing the Chicken Dance or even the Funky Chicken! Just don’t do the Turkey Dance as that would be fowl.

May 15 swings back to the food holidays with National Chocolate Chip Day! The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie was paid one dollar and a lifetime of chocolate for her recipe. Sounds like a raw deal to me, but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles! Celebrate today by sending your favorite columnist a batch of cookies. These puns don’t write themselves you know!

May 16 is National Sea Monkey Day! Popularized in 1956, sea monkeys are actually a hybridized form of brine shrimp. It’s amazing what we will do to bilk kids out of a few bucks. Still, today is their special day, so raise a glass and toast the sea monkey. Just don’t drink it, or you might end up with sea people a la South Park’s “Simpsons Already Did It”.

May 17 is Telecommunications Day! Celebrate today by using your little telecommunication device to do something other than look at cat videos on YouTube. Use the weird dial pad to call your parent, sibling, or best friend. The cat videos will still be there, I promise.

May 18 is for the clean freaks among us with No Dirty Dishes Day! On this day, I am most thankful for the invention of the dishwasher. Don’t just lye there! Sink yourself into it! Just don’t sing or you might end up in a soap opera!

May 19 is National Devil’s Food Cake Day! My faithful readers may not be aware, but I love chocolate, and thus, I particularly love Devil’s Food Cake. In the famous words of Marie Antoinette, “let me eat cake!” OK. I might have paraphrased a pinch.

May 20 is Be A Millionaire Day! If you happen to be a millionaire – call me! I would be an excellent millionaire! Celebrate today by living large! Take a look at that mansion on Park Place! Build that fancy house on Atlantic! Just be sure to put the Monopoly pieces back when you’re done.

May 21 promotes water safety with National Learn to Swim Day. If you don’t know how to swim, it’s a good idea to visit your local YMCA for lessons. If you do know how to swim be a good water buddy and support your aquatic impaired friend. After all, you don’t want to wind up swimming with the fishes!

May 22 is Goth Day! Observe this dark holiday by changing your name to Theodoric the Great and sacking Rome, Athens and Byzantium! Just clean up when you’re done. You don’t want people thinking you’re some sort of barbarian!

May 23 is Lucky Penny Day! For some, today is considered to be extra lucky. Ironically, on this day in history, the infamous Bonnie and Clyde were killed by the police. Guess their luck ran out!

May 24 is Tiara Day! Perhaps not so coincidentally, it is also the anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. Today of all days you deserve to be treated like a royal! Which is to say, put your life under a media microscope and have your marriage arranged for political reasons. Still, wear your tiara with pride while giving your best Diana wave!

May 25 is a day for the geeks and nerds among us with Towel Day. Today commemorates the life of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and demigod of geeks and nerds. Feeling unprepared for this day? Don’t panic! Pull out your tattered copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide and find a tree to sit under. Adams would want nothing less.

May 26 is National Paper Airplane Day! Celebrations for this day are quite simple: throw a paper airplane party! See who can fly theirs the farthest, or who can come up with the best paper airplane decoration. Just remember, it’s not the destination, but the journey! (Which admittedly isn’t very far in a paper airplane)

May 27 once again recognizes the importance of ailurophiles with Hug Your Cat Day! Admittedly, cats are not known for being particularly eager huggers, but perhaps if you tread carefully you can get a quick snuggle. Just a word of caution, I tried this on my cat last night. You can start calling me “Stumpy” from now on!

May 28 is Hamburger Day! Celebrate by parking your buns in your favorite burger joint. Just guard your juicy beef patty with care as you never know when the Hamburglar will strike!

May 29 is End of Middle Ages Day! Today the Middle Ages ended and became the Senior Citizen Ages. Kidding! It was the beginning of the Renaissance. I’m convinced that somewhere Chaucer is yelling at that upstart Michelangelo to get off his lawn!

May 30 is Water A Flower Day! We’ve had Plant Appreciation Day, so it’s only right that flowers have their day in the sun! Water all the flowers today! Without them our planet would be a barren wasteland much like Mars. Do you know how hard it is to grow things on Mars?? Hint: Ask Matt Damon.

May 31 is Save Your Hearing Day! Feeling ear-itable today? March to a different (ear) drum today and appreciate the world around you! Spread some lobe to someone you find ear-resistible!

The Offbeat Almanac – April 2021

April 1 is, of course, April Fools Day, but did you know it is also One Cent Day? Today we celebrate the history and origin of the penny. Today is also the day that Oliver Pollack is said to have invented the dollar sign. Given the current worth of a dollar, I’d say these two days go together perfectly!

April 2 is Children’s Book Day. Today celebrates the birth of Hans Christian Andersen and encourages reading in children. (Man, it sure is dark in here!) Today is also a great excuse to buy Benedict the Golden Dragon by Yours Truly! (A little shameless self promotion there)

April 3 celebrates Chocolate Mousse Day! I’m not sure why anyone would caribou this holiday, but hey, if you want to feed chocolate to a moose, be my guest. Just make sure you have some elk-a-seltzer on hand in case he gets indigestion!

April 4 is Walk Around Things Day. This can be interpreted a number of different ways – metaphorically to walk around a conflict or issue you simply don’t want to deal with, or literally to walk around an object in your way. Personally, this will be a welcome change from my usual “Walk Into Things Day”.

April 5 is a holiday I can definitely support! Today is National Deep Dish Pizza Day! Today also happens to be Go For Broke Day. You can celebrate both of these holidays by pulling out all the stops and sending your favorite columnist a coupon for a year of free deep dish pizza!

April 6 is on the more unusual side with Plan Your Epitaph Day. Sure, it sounds morbid, but in reality it’s a very grave situation. Do you really want your headstone full of some drivel that doesn’t reflect who you really are? Mine’s going to say “It seemed like a good idea at the time…”

April 7 is the perfect excuse to ignore that unfolded laundry or that dishwasher that needs unloading. It’s No Housework Day! Celebrate by ignoring the normal household chores while you binge watch your favorite Netflix show and eat leftovers from Deep Dish Pizza Day.

April 8 is Zoo Lovers Day! Take the day off from your normal responsibilities to visit your local zoo. Just make sure you have your vaccination records. It was so awkward last time when they tried to keep you.

April 9 is Name Yourself Day! Think your given name is dull or wish your parents had chosen something different? You’re in luck! Today you can pick a new name for yourself and make everyone refer to you that way. You can now call me “The Funniest Columnist in the World.”

April 10 is a bit less obscure with National Siblings Day. Show your sibling(s) how much you car by taking the time to call your brother or sister and engage in a rousing rendition of “I know you are, but what am I?” Or, if you live locally, drop by and play the “Stop hitting yourself” game. Keep in mind, however, you’re never too old for your mom to send you to your room!

April 11 combines three holidays with Eight Track Tape Day, Barbershop Quartet Day, and National Pet Day. I suggest celebrating with your pet by listening to 8 track tapes of barbershop quartet music!

April 12 is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. Fun fact: melting cheese on top of food has been a tradition since Roman times. Grilled cheese sandwiches, however, did not become popular until the late 1920’s. Perhaps the invention of sliced bread had something to do with this? Celebrate by enjoying your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.

April 13 is Plant Appreciation Day. I confess, I don’t have any plants, so I wouldn’t know if they
feel appreciated or not. In case you’re worried about your own plants, however, I suggest observing this holiday by going around and telling them how much you appreciate them. If you’re still worried, you can always call in a Horticultural Therapist.

April 14 is Look Up At The Sky Day. Today, take a moment to soak in the sun and look up at the fresh Spring sky. Just keep your mouth closed or you might find yourself observing “Pigeon Poops In Your Mouth Day!”

April 15 is unfortunately, going to suck. It’s National That Sucks Day. Perhaps not so coincidentally, today is also Titanic Remembrance Day and, of course, Tax Day. Man, that really does suck!

April 16 is the perfect excuse to head to work in the ultimate casual wear! It’s Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. When your boss asks why you’re wearing Batman footie PJs, you can point her to this column. I suggest skipping this holiday if you happen to be one who sleeps in the nude!

April 17 is Bat Appreciation Day. Why do all these things feel so unappreciated? Do we have a self-esteem pandemic in plants and animals?! Nonetheless, visit the bat house at the zoo and tell all the bats you appreciate them. Just do it from a distance, you never know which one is the vampire bat!

April 18 is Columnist Day. Show your favorite columnist how much you care by sending a few words of appreciation. Or a pizza. Either one works, really.

Apr 19 is National Garlic Day! Garlic has been known throughout history for it’s health benefits. Athletes in ancient Greece used it as a performance enhancement drug. Egyptian soldiers used it for courage in battle, and Buffy used it to ward off Spike. Fun fact, it’s also commonly used to ward off unwanted suitors. I’d stake my life on it!

Apr 20 is the perfect day if you have an identical twin. No, it’s not Twin’s Day, it’s Look Alike Day! Find your evil doppelgänger and confuse your friends! Just don’t be surprised when the bodies start piling up. After all, what do you expect from someone who is known to be evil?

April 21 is National High Five Day! Give everyone you meet today a high-five! Might be a good idea to warn them first so you don’t high five their face. People generally don’t react well to that.

April 22 is possibly the best holiday there is! (I know, I say that about a lot of holidays, but I mean it this time!) It’s National Jelly Bean Day! Granted, now that Easter has uh passed over, it’s harder to find good jelly beans, but I feel certain if anyone can do it, you can. Get rid of the licorice ones though. Those things are gross!

April 23 is National Zucchini Bread Day. If you are a particular fan of zucchini bread, then I suppose this holiday is for you. Personally, however, I’m not really a zucchini lover. In fact, I’d be happy if someone squashed this holiday.

April 24 seems like it can’t really be a holiday, and yet, my sources tell me it is New Kids on the Block Day! Unfortunately, this does indeed refer to the boy band and not to having new people move into your neighborhood. If you celebrate today, my condolences. If not, celebrate your good taste today!

April 25 is Tuxedo Day! Alright, it’s actually World Penguin Day, but close enough. Penguins are fun water fowl found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere and, being good Southerners, they’re well known for their love of crawfish and chitlins. OK, not really, but, bless your heart, I had you going!

April 26 marks another one of my favorite holidays with Hug an Australian Day! You’re probably sitting there thinking “I don’t know any Australians, how can I celebrate this auspicious day?” Well, I’m here to tell you there are any number of Aussies in society to choose from: Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, and Chris Hemsworth to name a few. Hug them all! Just don’t count on me for bail money.

April 27 is Tell A Story Day and to celebrate, I’m going to tell you an amazing story! Once Upon A Time there was a brilliant columnist who wrote really funny articles, but was grossly under appreciated by her readers. The readers were sorry and sent the columnist jelly beans (just not those gross ones!), and they all lived Happily Ever After! The end.

April 28 is Great Poetry Reading Day. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I love pizza, how about you? OK even I can admit that was sad. Instead, I suggest celebrating with a viewing of the 2009 White House Poetry Reading Jam. Bonus points for a baby faced Lin-Manuel Miranda introducing the world to an early rendition of everyone’s obsession, Hamilton the Musical.

April 29 is one for the cat owners out there. It’s Hairball Awareness Day! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really don’t need a holiday to make me aware of hairballs. When my cat has a hairball, people five counties over know it! Still, on this day, we acknowledge your hairball and wish we didn’t have to clean it up!

April 30 is Honesty Day! Today was invented as a direct counterpart of April Fools Day. The idea was that since the first day of the month is dedicated entirely to falsehoods, the end of the month should be dedicated to telling the truth. Honestly? I think someone just ran out of April holidays.

Review: Where it All Lands

Where it All Lands by Jennie Wexler centers around the lives of three teens: Drew, Shane, and Stevie.

Drew and Shane have been best friends since childhood, bonded by the loss of their fathers (Shane’s due to death, Drew’s from divorce). They also share a deep passion for music.

Enter Stevie Rosenstein. Stevie has moved to yet another new town, as her father’s career as a sports coach, has uprooted them on almost a yearly basis most of her life.

Both boys are instantly drawn to Stevie, who is determined to simply get through the year without forming any deep emotional attachments. With a flip of a coin the boys decide which one of them gets to ask Stevie out first. In the first half of the book, the coin lands on heads, with Drew winning the toss. In the second half of the book, the coin lands on tails, with Shane as the winner. What follows is a retelling of how that toss has a sort of butterfly effect on their lives.

Each of the characters is well developed with relatable flaws and issues. Drew is consumed with anger towards his father for breaking up their family, while Shane would give anything to have his own father alive again.

Chapters alternate by character, each told from their perspective. The voices are well established and distinct enough that it is easy to tell which character you are reading simply by the tone of the narrative.

Wexler weaves music throughout the story, deeply impacting the way Drew, Shane, and Stevie view and process the world around them.

The book is divided into two distinct tellings of the same events, each one unfolding in a different way, but Wexler intersects them in such away that they read as a single narrative.

Readers who liked All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nivens, or Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, might also enjoy Where It All Lands.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Offbeat Almanac – March 2021

The month of March has some wonderful and not so wonderful holidays. As a month, March is host to National Frozen Food Month (frozen pizza anyone?), National Nutrition Month (one of these things is not like the other) and National Peanut Month (what, are they trying to kill me??)

It is also host to some fun and different daily holidays.

March 1 is another holiday of spreading good will and cheer to others with World Compliment Day. As you go about your day, tell someone how much you admire their style or talent. While we’re on the topic of compliments, might I say you look very nice today, Mrs. Cleaver?

March 2 is Old Stuff Day or as I like to call it “Be Nice to My Husband Day!” Celebrate by clearing out some old clutter. But don’t clear out your spouse, they fall under “vintage”. Besides, you’d just have to break in someone new.

March 3 is a scary one for the pet owners. Today is What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day! Can you imagine? Dogs might be acceptable, but if cats gained opposable thumbs, we’d all be toast!

March 4 is Grammar Day. On this day I’d like to advocate for the Oxford Comma. The following snippet from an actual news article shows why the Oxford Comma is important: “…highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800 year old demigod and a dildo collector.”

March 5 is World Book Day! Celebrate by heading over to my Literary Junkie column and picking up a copy of the book I reviewed!

March 6 is Dress in Blue Day. Fun fact: owls are the only bird that can see the color blue. Well, except for the Louisiana state bird, the mosquito, which is attracted to blue twice as much as any other color.

March 7 is cereal day! The first cold breakfast cereal was invented in the U.S. in 1863, which is about the expiration date on that carton of milk you forgot to empty.

March 8 is Unique Names Day. North West, Buzz Michelangelo Fletcher, and Moon Unit Zappa should all feel at home on this day!

March 9 may incite fear and mayhem with Panic Day. Fear not, however as it is also False Teeth Day. Just pop those pearly whites back in your mouth, and the fear and mayhem should subside.

March 10 happens to be one of my favorite holidays – Popcorn Lover’s Day. If you ask me, there’s not much better than a bucket full of movie popcorn with tons of fake buttery topping. Except when it falls on the floor, and you find yourself weighing the five second rule. That part sucks.

March 11 is National Eat Your Noodles Day. If you’re a poor college student, celebrating this day should be simple. Microwave some ramen and voila! If you’re a Canadian university student, the equivalent of this would be ketchup and Kraft dinner.

March 12 sounds like a fun day with Genealogy Day! Fun genealogy fact: nearly everyone with European or Asian ancestry carries between 1-4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Perhaps not surprising, Ozzy Osbourne is in the 4 percent category. Maybe that explains the bat biting?

March 13 could save your life. It’s Check Your Batteries Day. Today is a good day to make sure the batteries on your smoke or carbon monoxide detector are in working order. It’s also a good idea to make sure the batteries on things like your iPod are charged. Can you imagine the horror if you got out someplace and your iPod was dead?! The very thought gives me the chills!

March 14 as we all know is National Pi Day (3/14), but more importantly it is National Potato Chip Day! Legend has it that a finicky customer at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs kept complaining that the fries were too thick. George Crum, the head chef, kept slicing them thinner until finally they were little more than a thin crisp. Thus the Saratoga Chip was born. The famous finicky customer? None other than Cornelius Vanderbilt. It’s all folklore to be sure but still a fun tale to tell over say a basket of chips.

March 15 is True Confessions Day. In the spirit of the holiday, I present two truths and a lie: 1) I’ve visited 49 of the 50 states. 2) I’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz and 3) I love snakes!

March 16 is Everything You Do is Right Day! No matter what you do today, you can’t go wrong, because as the day says, everything you do is right. So get out there, be bold! Don’t be afraid of making a mistake because today, you can’t. Unless I’m wrong, in which case things suddenly got awkward.

March 17 is Submarine Day. My research wasn’t clear on whether today commemorates the hero sandwich or the boat. Just to cover my bases, I think I’ll sit inside a submarine, eating a hero sandwich while listening to “Yellow Submarine.”

March 18 gives you an excuse for those moments in which you say the wrong thing at just the wrong moment, or you pause too long after a question, or maybe you trip on your shoelaces and fall down the stairs. Tell everyone that you are celebrating Awkward Moments Day, and revel in the fact that now the moment is awkward for them!

March 19 is Poultry Day! Don’t chicken out on celebrating today, or you’ll end up with egg on your face!

March 20 is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day! Catch up on the return of the X-Files, binge watch Roswell, reminisce with 3rd Rock from the Sun! Oh, and watch out for grey men with probes.

March 21 is Credit Card Reduction Day. You can celebrate by reducing the debt on my credit card. Don’t worry, I won’t mind!

March 22 presents the perfect excuse to play hooky and go to the park to throw a frisbee with a dog. Or for sitting around doing nothing! It’s National Goof Off Day! When your boss questions why you didn’t come to work today, point them to this column. On second thought, leave me out of it. I don’t like your boss anyway.

March 23 is Near Miss Day! On this day in history in 1989, a large asteroid missed the Earth by a mere 500 thousand miles. In astronomical terms, that’s pretty darned close. Celebrate by checking out my review of The Last Policeman from August of 2014.

March 24 is Tuberculosis Day! Consumption be done about it? Of cough, of cough! But it’ll take a lung lung time!

March 25 is the perfect opportunity to pull out your Middle Earth Maps and your Rune to English Dictionary for Tolkien Reading Day! Check out the Orcs of New York Facebook page for some insight on what’s happening since Frodo and the gang tossed that pesky ring!

March 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, or as I like to call it “My Husband Brings Me Breakfast in Bed Day! See what I did there? Now it’s your turn.

March 27 is Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day! I’m not sure there’s actually a Spotify list for today’s celebrations, but I’m certain you can create one. Get started with “Drop Kick Me Jesus Through The Goalpost of Life” or “I Been Roped And Thrown By Jesus In The Holy Ghost Corral.” Oh and don’t forget “I’d Rather Have A Bottle In Front Of Me Than A Frontal Lobotomy!”

March 28 is Something on a Stick Day. I’m not entirely certain how to celebrate such a broad holiday. I think I’ll start with a corn dog, move on to a Fudgesicle for dessert, and then wash it all down with some Tums and a strong case of regret!

March 29 is a day for illusions with Smoke and Mirrors Day! Learn a magic trick or two (start small – save the sawing your sibling in half for the experts!) Or if you prefer a more literary approach in your celebrations, read Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors!

March 30 is Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day! On this day in 1848, ice blockages stopped the flow of water to the falls. Chaos and mayhem ensued with people repenting their sins as Judgement Day approached. I’m not sure why we celebrate this. Sounds like it’s about as much fun as going over – oh wait, nevermind.

March 31 is Bunsen Burner Day! Today celebrates the birth of Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen who invented you guessed it, the Bunsen Burner. I’ll refrain from making any chemistry puns (as I do periodically) because I’m afraid they won’t get a good reaction.

Review: Across the Green Grass Fields

Once again, Seanan McGuire has knocked it out of the park.

Across the Green Grass Fields is a stand alone novella set within the universe of the Wayward Children series.

We are introduced to Regan at age 7, a young girl who instinctively realizes she doesn’t fit the mold of what it is to be a little girl in her world. Several years later she finally realizes exactly why she is different, and unfortunately, in the process, trusts the wrong person with this information.

This then sets the stage for her to stumble upon a world filled with unicorns and centaurs, and where she learns it’s OK to be different.

As with the previous novels in this series, McGuire paints a world so believable that the reader will find themselves hoping and praying for their own door to appear!

I felt the ultimate conflict was a bit too easily resolved in the end, and the ending was somewhat rushed. Beyond that, the characterizations were excellent, the dialogue flowed easily, and the descriptions were vividly detailed.

I highly recommend this series for anyone with even the slightest interest in fantasy. I just wish we didn’t all have to wait another year for the next one!!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Offbeat Almanac – February 2021

February 1 You remember that chocolate cake that you were supposed to make last week? Well today you can redeem yourself by celebrating Decorate With Candy Day! Hint: I like those red hot sugary candies the best!

February 2 Of course everyone knows that today is Groundhog Day, but did you know that it’s also Marmot Day? Admittedly groundhogs are actually in the Marmot genus, but you know how it is. Marmot always said there’d be days like this!

February 3 is known as The Day the Music Died. On this date in 1959, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash. Commemorate by pulling out some old LP’s and listening to “Peggy Sue”. If your response to this is “What’s an LP”, then allow me to refer you back to Curmudgeon Day.

February 4 is Stuffed Mushroom Day! I don’t like mushrooms, but I do like jokes, so in honor of this day, I’ll tell you my best mushroom joke. “Why was the mushroom stuffed? I don’t know, maybe he ate too much at the party! After all, he’s quite a fungi!” Thank you, I’ll be here all month.

February 5 is Weatherman’s Day! In honor of this day, and continuing the theme of Stuffed Mushroom Day, I give you my best weatherman joke. “Why did the weatherman bring a bar of soap to work? He was predicting showers!”

February 6 is Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating whatever you want whenever you want is the most important part of being an adult. Combine these two important elements, and celebrate by eating ice cream for breakfast!

February 7 is a great day to show someone you’re thinking of them with Send a Card to a Friend Day. They’ll really love you if you make it an empty black American Express card!

February 8 Go fly a kite! No, really, do it because today is Kite Flying Day! Just don’t tie a key to it and stand out in a rain storm. For one thing, it’s illegal. For another, Mythbusters tried it and demonstrated that it would kill you. You don’t want to be responsible for ruining a national holiday, do you?

February 9 is Extraterrestrial Culture Day. From Doctor Who and E.T. to Men in Black, celebrate by streaming some of your favorite extraterrestrial media. You never know, your neighbor could be an alien in hiding! Word on the street is several prominent politicians are lizard people. When you think about it, this would actually explain a lot!

February 10 is Plimsoll Day! What’s a plimsoll you ask? It’s basically a beach shoe made out of canvas with a rubber sole. A common example of a plimsoll is the famous Chuck Taylor All-Star Converse. Who knew something so cool had such a weird name? Fun fact: I’m wearing my Chucks as I write this column! Photographic proof available via Twitter.

February 11 We’ve all heard the expression “There’s no sense crying over spilled milk.” Today that expression comes to fruition with Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day! Honestly though, if I had a cookie and a heaping tall glass of chocolate milk, and the milk spilled, I think I would probably cry.

February 12 is Darwin Day which commemorates the birthday of Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species. Celebrate this day, or I’ll be a monkey’s aunt. Hmm, that doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?

February 13 Yes, of course today is Valentine’s Day Eve, but it’s also Get A Different Name Day. Perhaps you’ve just realized you forgot to make those dinner reservations for tomorrow. If so, today is an excellent opportunity to change your name! You can call me Stormageddon Dark Lord of All.

February 14 is a day for hearts, flowers, and sweethearts. It’s also a terrific opportunity to show you care in a different less conventional way. Today is Donor Day. Hospitals and blood banks are always in need of blood donors. Even if your blood type is negative, I’m positive your help is needed!

February 15 is Hippo Day! The Hippopotamus is an under appreciated animal. Hippos are the third largest land mammal, can run up to about 30 kilometers per hour, and are actually most closely related to whales and porpoises. You don’t want a hippopotamus for Christmas though – they take up way too much room. Besides, do you know how much a hippo eats? Actually not much – only about 11 kilograms a day.

February 16 is Innovation Day. Speaking of innovation, why don’t we have transporter beams yet? Celebrate Innovation Day by building a functional transporter beam. You’ll be filty rich and have my eternal gratitude!

February 17 reminds us all to be kind with Random Acts of Kindness Day. Shovel an elderly neighbor’s walk, pay someone a compliment, or even bake cookies for a friend or co-worker (or hard working columnist). In short, make the world a little better today by doing something kind.

February 18 is for all the wine lovers out there. Today is Drink Wine Day. Now most of us don’t need a special holiday to do this, but why not observe anyway? Invite friends over for supper and break out that more expensive bottle you’ve been saving for a special occasion. After all, it is the season.

February 19 is Chocolate Mint Day. For some reason the chocolate mint candies that restaurants often serve always seem fancy to me. Therefore, I think Chocolate Mint Day should be celebrated in style: wear a tuxedo while eating your favorite chocolate mint concoction. Trust me, it will be awesome!

February 20 Yes, Valentines Day is long over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep a little spice in your life. Today is Handcuff Day. On this day, I offer the following advice: fur lined is most comfortable, don’t close them too tight, and whatever you do, don’t lose the key. You don’t want to have to explain to your mother or best friend what happened, do you?

February 21 is Single Tasking Day. It’s a busy world out there, so take some time today to slow down and focus on only one thing at a time. Curl up on your couch with your favorite hot beverage, fire up Netflix and chill. Though I suppose technically that is sort of multi-tasking. Eh, I never was very good at this following instructions thing.

February 22 I don’t want to brag, but I think I might be the best at celebrating today’s holiday. It’s Be Humble Day! Observe this holiday by having a competition with your friends as to who can come up with the best way to celebrate. Or if you want to do something to benefit someone else, buy a Humble Bundle. All bundle proceeds go to charity.

February 23 is Curling is Cool Day. I know that most of you will think this is a big fat lie, and I admit on face value curling does look like a weird sport, but it actually has an interesting history. Curling can be traced back to the 1500’s in Scotland and in the mid 1800’s was demonstrated to Queen Victoria by the Earl of Mansfield. Curling is considered a sport of ettiquete. Opponents congratulate each other on good plays, and typically the winners by the losers a drink after.

February 24 is Inconvenience Yourself Day. I’m not entirely certain why you would go out of your way to celebrate today but, then again, doing so fulfills the obligation to observe. Take the slightly difficult road today. Hold a door open a little longer for the person who isn’t walking fast enough. Help a little old lady across the street. Get that item off the top shelf for a shorter spouse or roommate. Pretty soon it won’t seem so inconvenient after all.

February 25 encourages the young women in our lives with Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. I am not the most mathematically inclined person (a slight understatement), but even I recognize how cool it is to be an engineer. If you know a young woman who has a scientific and curious mind, introduce them to engineering. She might become the next Stephanie Louise Kwolek who discovered liquid crystalline polymers which are used to make Kevlar.

February 26 is Tell A Fairy Tale Day. Fairy tales are the backbone of literature, and you’re never too old for a good fairy tale. Celebrate today by making up your own fairy tale. Pick up a copy of Politically Correct Fairy Tales for a good laugh. No matter how you celebrate, I guarantee today will end Happily Ever After.

February 27 is World Sword Swallower’s Day. Granted, this holiday is a little hard to, well, swallow, but I am confident you can still celebrate. Find a sword swallowing show near you, or stream some sword swallowing videos online. Personally, I’m not convinced sword swallowing is all it’s cut out to be, so I recommend you leave it to the professionals.

February 28 is Tooth Fairy Day! Today we pay homage to the generous sprite that is known for leaving coins or other treats under our pillow. Since I presume we have all long passed the age when our teeth are likely to fall out, I suggest celebrating today by setting your next dental appointment. Not as much fun as treats or money under your pillow, but I have it on good authority that the tooth fairy goes by chronological rather than behavioral age!

Offbeat Almanac – January 2021

January 01 is Public Domain Day! This means any copyrighted works from 1925 enter the public domain today! For some works this is welcome news (The Great Gatsby or Buster Keaton anyone?). Apparently though 1925 also produced some less timely gems such as Lovers in Quarantine. I think we could all do with skipping that one!

January 02 is Swiss Cheese Day! Yeah, I don’t know about that. I’m finding some holes in this story.

January 03 presents J.R.R. Tolkien Day! Celebrate by writing sentences that include overly detailed descriptions and use many unnecessary words!

January 04 celebrates World Hypnotism Day! You’re getting verrrry sleepy! You want to send me a million dollars!

January 05 is National Screenwriters Day!


EXT: Townhouses. Evening.
In a Louisiana suburb, a collection of townhouses sit on a little known side street.INT. Townhouse – Home Office – Evening

A person sits at a desk. In front of them is a computer. They are typing casually. A cat saunters in.

Cat: Meow.
Person 1: You had treats already. You’re not getting more!

The cat exits forlornly.


January 06 is National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day! If you haven’t taken your tree down by now, today is the day! Don’t be like my parents and wait till Good Friday. If you do it will be National Haul You Off To The Loony Bin Day!

January 07 is Bobblehead Day! I guess this means you’re supposed to walk around bobbling your head all day. Or wait, they mean the toy don’t they? In which case, I think it’s time I expanded my collection!

January 08 It’s Show and Tell at Work Day! What a perfect year for this! Since nearly everyone is working from home these days and work meetings are all conducted via Zoom it is the perfect time to show off your dog or cat or even your bobblehead collection!

January 09 celebrates Balloon Ascension Day! What better way to practice social distancing than inside a hot air balloon? I challenge strangers to get within 6 feet when you’re 50 feet up in the air!

January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day! Your house plant isn’t just there to look pretty. It also helps produce oxygen – you know, the very air you breathe. So for today at least, tell your houseplant how much you appreciate everything it does to make your life better!

January 11 allows you an opportunity for a fresh start with National Clean off Your Desk Day. I just have to find it first….

January 12 is the perfect holiday for a cold winter day. It’s National Hot Tea Day! Whether you’re a fan of Earl Grey (hot), or something more exotic like Oolong, today is a great day to curl up with a cuppa and enjoy!

January 13 Today is National Rubber Ducky Day! Celebrate by watching some old Sesame Street clips and then taking a long hot bath with your yellow pal. He’s always been there for you.  Now you can be there for him!

January 14 livens things up with National Dress Up Your Pet Day! Dress your dog in a pirates costume, or put your cat in a fancy dress! No matter your pet, get creative! For some fun pet silliness, check out the Cat Named Carot!

January 15 is National Hat Day! Whether you’re a hat aficionado or just someone who likes to occasionally toss on a baseball cap, today is your day! I say spice it up a bit by donning a tricorn hat, sticking a feather in it, and calling it macaroni. Oh wait, I think that’s been done. Never mind.

January 16 Today is Fig Newton Day! It is a little known fact that fig newtons are named such because it was actually a fig tree that Isaac Newton sat under first. Figs aren’t very heavy though so it’s fortunate he chose an apple tree. It is perhaps a lesser known fact that I completely made that up! No matter, if fig newtons are your thing, then today is your day!

January 17 is Popeye Day! Open a can of spinach, flex your muscles, and buy your best friend a hamburger! Or you know, you could just go to Popeye’s chicken… your choice.

January 18 is Thesaurus Day! This is amazing, outstanding, incredible, sensational, and downright glorious!

January 19 celebrates World Quark Day! Apparently this day commemorates a weird European cheese alternative. I don’t know about you, but that does not sound very gouda to me!

January 20 observes Penguin Appreciation Day! Do you know penguins sometimes wear glasses? It helps their ice-sight! Penguins are notoriously difficult to get along with though because they’re always fishing for compliments! Thank you, I’ll be here all month. Try the er, fish.

January 21 is International Sweatpants Day! Or as it’s known in my household “Thursday”. No matter how you celebrate, do it in comfort. Just be sure to tie the draw string as it isn’t International Moon your Friends Day!

January 22 is Blonde Brownie Day! Honestly, this smells a bit like discrimination to me. What about brunette and red headed brownies? I’m going to look into this just as soon as the oven timer goes off….

January 23 steps into Measure Your Feet Day! I tried it, and they’re about a foot long! Oh come on, don’t step on my toes. That joke was funny!

January 24 celebrates National Compliment Day! My, aren’t you looking lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver?

January 25 is Opposite Day! Whatever you do, don’t celebrate this day!

January 26 is Toad Hollow Day of Encouragement! I’m not sure why toads need encouragement but hey, I’m not one to judge. If you’re reading this and you’re a toad, well, you’re ahead of the game already! Go on and be the best darn toad you can be!

January 27 is Chocolate Cake Day! The best way to celebrate this day is to bake your favorite columnist a lovely, rich, and fluffy chocolate cake. Trust me, I’ll – I mean they – will thank you for it later!

January 28 It’s National Kazoo Day! What do you say when a kazoo sneezes? Kazoontite! Yeah, I’ll show myself out…

January 29 is Curmudgeons Day! Be the most curmudgeonly curmudgeon you can be by beating people with your cane or tripping them with your walker. Now pull up your pants and get off my lawn, you damned kids!

January 30 is Fruitcake Toss Day! Honestly, anyone who still has a fruitcake in their house at this point desperately needs this holiday. What are you waiting for? Get rid of that thing! You can order a new doorstop online!

January 31 is Gorilla Suit Day! I dare you to celebrate by putting on your best gorilla suit and wearing it to your next Zoom call! Trust me, your boss will love it!

Review: The Clue in the Trees by Margi Preus

The Clue in the Trees by Margi Preus is the second in the Enchantment Lake series. Francie Frye from the first novel, Enchantment Lake, has decided to remain with her aunts in Minnesota for her senior year at the local high school.

On the night before her first day of school, France is awakened by the noise of her long-lost brother Theo sneaking into the house. While she is happy to see him, Francie can’t help but be suspicious of his sudden reappearance. First, he immediately involves her in a three-a.m. break-in during which they are chased by a mysterious figure in a trench coat. A few days later, he becomes a primary suspect in a murder. Desperate to protect her brother, Francie vows to stay away from the investigation, but decides she must solve the mystery once and for all when she herself becomes a suspect.

It is clear that The Clue in the Trees is very much a middle book. The plot advances just enough from the previous book to hold reader interest into the next book, but not enough so as to give too much of the next book away.

As with Enchantment Lake, Preus does an excellent job of setting the scene. The descriptions of places and characters will make the reader feel as if they know the setting and people. Dialogue is believable, and Preus’ characterization of Francie carries over well from the previous book. Even though she attempts every effort to avoid getting involved in the the latest murder mystery, she can’t help but be dragged along with the intrigue. Francie’s aunts, who provided a welcome whimsical factor in Enchantment Lake, appear again in The Clue in the Trees. Unfortunately, their role has been greatly reduced, and I found myself missing their presence.

Enchantment Lake and The Clue in the Trees bring up frequent comparisons to Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, and in fact, fans of those books will likely enjoy The Clue in the Trees.

Other books readers might want to explore after reading The Clue in the Trees include Bone Gap by Laura Ruby or Being Henry David by Cal Armistead. Both books contain quirky characters that are somewhat reminiscent of Francie’s aunts, and both involved mysteries that double as journeys of self discovery. Being Henry David is heavier in tone than either of the Enchantment Lake books but is still recommended for readers who enjoy the mystery genre.

The Clue in the Trees is an excellent book for middle-school aged readers looking for a bit of adventure and imagination. While readers may be tempted to give up due to the slower plot movement, I encourage them to remain. Unfortunately with any series, there is always that book which is used to advance the plot but also has to hold back in order to set up the next book. The Clue in the Trees is that book, and I anticipate that the next in the series will harken back to the same feeling of suspense and quick moving past that was found in Enchantment Lake.

Halloween Books for Beginning Readers

Love Monster and the Scary Something by Rachel Bright is the most recent in the well known Love Monster series. Love Monster is struggling with insomnia one evening. The harder he tries to sleep, the more awake he becomes. As the night goes on, his imagination begins to run wild, and Love Monster is convinced the noises he is hearing are something terrible!

Love Monster and the Scary Something is a terrific book for helping small children understand and overcome basic fears such as fear of the dark or anxiety about unfamiliar noises at night. It is a lighthearted and amusing addition to the Love Monster collection. Bright writes well at a level that is easy for young kids to understand but does not condescend to them. I did find however, that Bright’s invention of the word “awaker” detracted from my enjoyment of the storyline. While it is tempting to create unique word choices to make stories more accessible to children, it came across as awkward in this instance.

There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher follows a monster who is trapped inside the book. Young readers are encouraged to shake, turn, and blow on the book to prompt the little monster along. Fletcher
has created a cute romp that young readers will enjoy though it is reminiscent of (and not as enjoyable as) The Monster At The End of this Book.

How To Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace centers around a tiny Ninja who is determined to scare away the monster he has discovered living in his closet. The two go against each other as the ninja repeatedly traps the monster who repeatedly breaks out of the traps. Finally, the ninja realizes the monster simply wants to make friends.

How To Catch A Monster employs a rhyming sequence that is jarring in places. In addition, Wallace has simplified the language to make it easier for early readers to understand, but it reads as if it has been too simplified even for the 3-5 year old age group it is marketed toward. Finally, the entire book culminates in a fart joke, which may appeal to young children but will leave parents rolling their eyes.

Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the World by Mo Willems continues the story of a Sam, a little boy previously introduced in Willems’ book Leonardo the Terrible Monster. Sam is afraid of everything and everyone except his monster friend Leonardo. One day, however, Sam meets Kerry, the second most scaredy-cat kid in the world! Seeing that the two children are terrified of each other, the monsters conspire to help them see what they have in common and to overcome their own fears.

Willems’ writing starts out strong and does an excellent job of meeting kids on their level, however the ending is quite abrupt and readers are left without any resolution. This leaves the door open for continuing the series but, still, children will likely be left wondering “are the kids still scared?”, “what do the monsters do?”.

Bonaparte Falls Apart written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry, centers around a young skeleton who is literally having a hard time keeping himself together. When Bonaparte tries to throw a ball, his arm goes with it. When he tries to eat lunch, it’s rather jaw-dropping. Bonaparte is, quite simply, falling apart in the worst sense. Fortunately, he has a supportive group of friends and a surprising new companion who help him cope with the travails of being a little different.

Cuyler and Terry as a team create an adorable and clever story about insecurities and being a little different. Cuyler does an excellent job of writing intelligently and, in fact, makes use of some rather groan-worthy puns. Boneaparte Falls Apart should become a frequent rotation in the bedtime reading routine and is a wonderful story that both kids and parents will enjoy.

The X-Files: Earth Children are Weird by Jason Rekulak portrays Mulder and Scully as young children. The two alien hunters have pitched a tent in the backyard for a sleepover but are quickly bombarded by strange sights and sounds. True to their characters, Mulder is convinced aliens are behind every shadow while Scully insists there must be a rational, more commonplace source. What follows is an enjoyable story that plays nicely into the X-Files franchise.

Earth Children are Weird provides a wonderful way for parents to introduce young children to one of the most popular sci-fi shows of all time. While the television show is too intense for early readers, the book creates an entertaining side universe that will amuse fans of the series. Rekulak does an excellent job of presenting Mulder and Scully as children while keeping previously established elements of their adult personalities. Those who loved the TV show may have to indulge in a little suspension of disbelief given that Earth Children Are Weird plays a little loose with established canon.

Kim Smith’s illustrations complement the text brilliantly and her depiction of the amusing surprise ending will make readers both younger and older laugh out loud.

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