Handy Tip:how to to get pen off a book cover


Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving. I did!

But on Sunday night my four-year-old decided to scribble all over the cover of a new hard-back graphic novel I had just read for the Cybils.

I was kinda grouchy about it and told her she was going to have to pay to replace the book (Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten). But then I thought to myself "I wonder if magic eraser would take this off..." The cover was fairly glossy. So, with nothing to lose, I gave it a go.

I just use generic brand magic erasers. This is the thing I'm talking about. I buy them at the grocery store. I got the eraser a little bit wet and went to town scrubbing.

The results pleased me. I thought of taking a "before picture" but I didn't do it because I thought working fast might help. In hindsight that doesn't make a lot of sense, because ballpoint pen ink dries pretty much instantly, but that's my excuse. Here's the after picture. You can see in the pen isn't completely gone, especially in the crevice next to the spine.

Some marks still visible by his hand, on the cushion, on his face, but SO much better. 

If you're curious about Lint Boy, it's a cute book. My seven-year-old really liked it (probably because he really loves stuffed animals and has never seen Toy Story). It's about a little stuffed animal that is formed of lint in the dryer, and his friend. They get separated by the villain, an old hag who hates and tortures stuffed animals in an effort to get them to talk. As a child she thought they were alive, so she's got something to prove. As you can imagine, it all works out pretty well for the dolls and stuffies in the end. The illustrations are intricate and the muted color palette works nicely in the book. Here's another amazon link, if you want to check it out.

Have you ever had success repairing or rehabilitating a book? I'd love to hear about it!

Joke time!

Every Monday night we have family night at our house. And, as part of our family night we have a couple of minutes called Joke Time. We take turns being in charge of Joke Time each week and, let me tell you, it's a fun thing to have in your life.

Well, a few weeks back I got an email asking if I'd like to review a new joke book put out by National Geographic. Yes I would! Levi, my second grader, is big into jokes. Plus we've got Joke Time to think of every week. Sometimes I would try to quickly look up a new joke on the internet, but honestly having a book handy is a little safer, if you're looking for something the whole family can enjoy. (That said, I do have a favorite spot for corny jokes on the internet: Rinkworks.)

So. This new book is called Just Joking Jumbo. It pairs pictures of animals with jokes, funny dialogue and a few facts. The book has 10 chapters with titles like "Far-out Space Silliness," "Hilarious History," and "Nutty Nature."

Puns, question and answer jokes, riddles and knock-knock jokes are all mixed together in a hodgepodge that makes it easy to open the book to any page and find something fun. And I think the full color interior and creative layouts make it really fun to browse through.

But Alysa! Aren't joke books just a frivolous waste of time though? Shouldn't my kid be reading a real book?

No. Let me explain.

There are three reasons I like joke books: I like that they promote 1. independent reading, 2. comprehension and 3. fluency. If your 7-year-old wants to tell you a new joke without spoiling it, he has to read it on his own, think it is funny, practice it, and then present it to you. I can't think of any other type of book that is quite as good for that particular set of skills, and offers success and positive feedback so quickly.

The other thing I like about joke books is that then my kids spontaneously tell me jokes! When Jubilee (age 4) saw I was writing a post about this book she told me her favorite joke from it.

Jubilee: What state is aaalways chewing?
Me: What?
Jubilee: Massachusetts!

For your viewing pleasure, I have a video of Levi telling his favorite one, too.

I thought about giving Just Joking Jumbo as a wrapped gift to Levi this Christmas. It's almost too big to fit in a stocking, but I suppose one could . . . Anyway I decided I'd rather let him enjoy it now. But here's the Amazon link if you want to shop for it or for other joke books or whatever.   

Aaaand just in case you haven't seen it yet, here is a hilarious sketch from our favorite sketch comedy group, Studio C. We all watched this together around Halloween, and it came up at the absolute perfect moment during Joke Time last Monday night.

I died laughing.

Cybils Update + 4 Good Graphic Novels for Teens

Hola! Here's the Cybils update

Me + my reading buddy
I'm a category chair... 
That's going pretty well, despite the fact that the baby was born right on the morning of a deadline. Haha! I was supposed to confirm with the judges I had selected that they would accept the position, and remarkably I was still able to do that. Then, when Sam was just a couple of weeks old, I had to wade through all the nominations and check them to see if they were published at the right time and if they were indeed graphic novels and if they were indeed published for teens/elementary. That took some time, because we had 171 books nominated (yay!) 153 of them turned out to be eligible. Since I'm also one of the first round judges (had to be, so that we wouldn't have an even number and get locked in ties when voting on titles), so I've got my reading cut out for me.

I got a book in the mail!
Today I got my first review copy -- so fun!It's a copy of Dog Night at the Story Zoo. I confess the title has me like, "whaaa?" So I'm looking forward to reading it and figuring that out.

I've read a bunch of books I haven't told you about!

So I'm just going to give you quick thoughts about each one. A little mini-review if you will. I'll start with these four ones for teens that I liked. Note that my opinions here don't reflect the opinions of the cybils panel as a whole; I'm speaking for myself.

Covers link to Amazon, if you're interested in full synopsis. If you purchase through my affiliate links, I get a small commission. 

The Adventures of John Blake: The Mystery of the Ghost Ship - This one was so good. I mean, Philip Pullman is a good author, so that's no surprise. He wrote The Golden Compass (fantasy) and The Ruby in the Smoke (historical fiction), both of which I like. He does seem to have something against parents, though. :-) Anyway, this is an awesome adventure about a greedy technology tycoon, a ship that travels through time, and a family on an extended vacation. The art is full color and excellent, and I'll definitely be looking for future installments. The characters seem like they each have their own backstory already, and I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. This one is nominated in the teen category, and has some violence, as you can see from the big explosion on the cover.

Yvain - This one is also really good, but in a totally different way. I confess I'm not a big fan of the cover. I don't think it captures the awesomeness of what's inside. It is a retelling of one of the Arthurian legends, one I had never heard before. Yvain sets off on a quest to avenge a friend and get glory -- he ends up getting a wife, losing her trust, becoming a LOT more noble than he was before, and . . . I won't spoil the ending. But I loved the artist and author commentary at the end of the book.
And the art was really beautiful and full color. It was especially cool how the stories within the story were illustrated as if they were tapestries hanging behind the storyteller.

Ms. Marvel Vol 6: Civil War II - I read this one before I knew it was nominated for the award this year, because I really like the series. This installment tackles some interesting issues: how far can you go in preventing crime before it happens? What should you do when you realize you disagree with the people you admire? I'm very interested to see where the next installment takes us. While I liked Val. 6, I recommend starting with the first one: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.

Lumberjanes Vol 6.: Sink or Swim - Another awesome adventure at summer camp for the girls in the Roanoke Cabin. This one has them working together as a team to help dissolve a misunderstanding between some selkies and a camp counselor who is more than she seems to be. This one felt like a "middle adventure" to me. I mean, if it was a TV show, it would have been a fun episode where the conflict was introduced and tied up neatly, with little sprinkles to remind us what some of the overarching conflicts in the series are. You could definitely start with this one, but again I recommend starting with the first one: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy and proceeding in order.

Read anything good lately? Got any Cybils-related questions for me? I'd love to hear.

It's a baby!

The newest member of our family is here! I've been posting lots of adorable pictures on my Instagram, because not all of his grandparents have met him yet. 

That's changing this weekend though -- my family is coming to town and little Sam will be blessed in church.  
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