Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Fizzwhizzing Flushbunker is officially taking a long nap (you know...the forever kind). Thanks to those of you who followed and supported the site. Archived reviews will remain available.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Monsterific Tale

Hyde and Shriek
by David Lubar
Starscape (January 2012)
Ages 8 and up

With typical David Lubar flair, his latest offering—Hyde and Shriek: A Monsterific Tale—promises a screaming good time with its fast-past delivery and no-holds barred, attention-grabbing narration, beginning with its delightfully creepy opening confession: "I love kids. They make great hood ornaments." So says the story's narrator, Ms. Jackie Clevis, an elementary school science teacher with a few...um...issues.

After accidentally infusing her breakfast drink with a personality-altering elixir, Ms. Clevis morphs into the best and worst versions of herself—an unnaturally sweet sixth grader (Jackie) and a genuine terror of a teacher who lives to cause misery for her students (Ms. Hyde). Both sides battle for control, but with Hyde's ability to gain strength from all the negativity she stirs up, the odds are stacked in her favor.

Hyde's scenes produce the sort of cringe-inducing, peek-through-your-fingers-oh-no-she-di'int reactions that make this a terrifically fun read. They also make it hard not to wonder if any real life teachers harbor similar feelings (I'm looking at you, Mrs. Schroeder, ya mean old bat.) Ms. Clevis is at risk of losing herself if she can't find a way to unite her two extreme sides (hey—maybe Congress needs to read this). It's up to the kids to put two and two—or, Jackie and Hyde—together and figure out how to save their teacher before she destroys them all.

Hyde and Shriek is Lubar's first tale in a new series of monster-morphing at Washington Irving Elementary. It's exactly the type of book I watch kids hunt through the book van hoping to find—a dash of danger with plenty of wicked humor—and when they do...the smiles on their faces are priceless. No doubt, legions of demented readers will love this book (and the series—so hurry it up, Lubar!).

Source: I bought my copy at Orca Books.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bling Reviews Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage
Dial (May 2012)
Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Blingin' My Game

"Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage is about a girl named Moses Lobeau (they call her Mo for short) who was just a baby when a hurricane hit North Carolina and she was separated from her mother. During the hurricane, she was found by a man (the Colonel) who kept Mo and eventually married Miss Lana. It’s now eleven years later and Mo and her best friend, Dale, are working at a cafe when they hear about a murder. They decide to put their business, Desparado Detectives, up to the big test of solving the case.

When Joe Starr, an official detective, comes to town to solve the murder, Mo doesn't like him. Neither does Dale, who just doesn't like any teacher or law official. Starr brings along his partner, Deputy Marla, which turns out to be not such a great idea. Murder is bad enough, but Mo and Dale are not prepared an unexpected kidnapping and every other twisted detail that will leave you wanting more.

I liked the point of view of the story, which is told by Mo. I felt like I was in her place and could imagine what was going through her head the whole time. It was written in a way that was mysterious and a little scary at times, making me think, "Whoa, what if this happened to me?"

I feel this book would be great for middle schoolers because they could relate to the main character, Mo, who is around a middle-schooler's age. When I was reading the book, I couldn't stop reading! I would read this book at school and every time I had to stop, it would leave me wanting more. It’s one great story.

I give "Three Times Lucky" 3 thumbs up!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Haunted Waters

I'm pleased to have my story, Skin of the Duppy, included in this gorgeous Fall issue of From the Depths by Haunted Waters Press. The story is loosely based on my years as a teen, living in a basically abandoned hotel that was rumored to be haunted because it had been built over a swamp. From what we were told by locals, swamps were breeding grounds for duppies (patois for evil spirits). The hotel was situated right beside a slow moving river on one side and the sea on the other, just like the locale in this story. The tide from the sea pushed the river backward, except during storms when it turned into a nasty rush of debris from the mountain—coconut husks, limbs, banana plants, and mud. Lots of churning mud. It was the perfect setting for a ghost story. And a personal redemption of sorts.

(If the embedded issue doesn't appear below, click here.)

Picture of me beside the stagnant river that inspired this story:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Spider and the Fly...The Yummy Edition

The Spider and the Fly 10th Anniversary Edition
based on the classic 1829 poem by Mary Howitt
illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Simon & Shuster (August 2012)
Ages 6 and up

It's true, I was reading-deprived as a child; however, not until I read the 10th anniversary edition of Mary Howitt's 1829 poem, illustrated Tony DiTerlizzi, did I realize just what an abomination that was. For crying out loud...this little masterpiece has been around since 1829? Of course, maybe if DiTerlizzi had been there to illustrate it sooner, there's a good chance we would have crossed paths. Thankfully, a 10th anniversary edition just came out and I was ready for it.

In this thinly veiled morality tale about the perils of vanity, self-absorbed little Fly is courted by silver-tongued master manipulator, Spider, who preys on Fly's superficiality. Spider plies Fly with fanciful promises and compliments, slowly drawing both Fly and reader into his web. Meanwhile, the illustrations tell the real tale as the ghostly apparitions of past victims try to warn her away (a really lovely touch).

DiTerlizzi has created a delicious visual feast with classic Hollywood horror film flair. I do believe this is the first Gothic-style picture book I've come across, and if that's not already a thriving genre, it should be. (Gris Grimly has illustrated some rhyming collections of macabre, but I can't think off the top of my head of a picture book with this sort of vintage horror quality to it.)

A big bonus in this 10th Anniversary edition is the movie poster printed on the inside of the dust jacket:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Twisted Tombstones

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs
Written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins
Charlesbridge (July 2012)
Ages 7 and up

Can a book of epitaphs for animals really be all that funny? Why, yes it can, especially if you combine the pithy wit of Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis with the playfully dark illustrations of Jeffrey Stewart Timmins.

For the most part, this picture book of sly final farewells delivers on its twisted promise to delight in the animal kingdom's dearly departed. While I felt a little let down with a few of the them, the many brilliantly (ahem) executed epitaphs more than make up for any lost momentum. Among my favorites, Lewis' "Chicken Crosses Over" puts to rest any notions about the endlessly debated road crossing, and Yolen's "Hen's Last Cluck" makes mischief with a beautifully rendered nine-word, two-line salute to fowl behavior.

The epitaphs, while delivered tongue-in-cheek, are so wide ranging in their subjects—from the farm to the sea and all points high and low—that Last Laughs is a sneakily tender tribute to the animal kingdom. Truthfully, I never thought I'd feel for an eel or regret a piranha's sudden passing.

Last Laughs has a life beyond its reading, offering inspiration and prompts for young writers to pen their own animal epitaphs. In fact, I took a stab at this (poorly rhymed) epitaph for several crows:

Look no further.
This was a murder.

A great gift for Halloween.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Wonder(ful) Book

R.J. Palacio
Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 2012)
Ages 8 and up

Contributor: Blingin' My Game

Wonder caught my eye by the cover, which shows a boy with a truly unusual face. When I started reading the book, I absolutely loved it!!! The story is about a boy named August Pullman who was born with a deformed face and has been home schooled his whole life. By the time he reaches fifth grade, his mother decides that it’s time to go to a private school. 

August faces lots of challenges and has some good and bad moments. When his middle school principle, Mr. Tushman, introduces him to his new school, August isn’t sure that he wants to be there, knowing that the students and teachers will stare at his one-of-a-kind face every day where it can't be hidden. He has to deal with the whispering, laughing, staring and pointing at him as he walks by in the halls. He goes to sleep every night, thinking about having to go through it all over again the next day. Through it all, his sister Olivia and his mom and dad don’t want him to give up going to school, so he has to dig deep to keep going. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that after readers get done with this book it will make them think about how they treat others they meet and if they have treated them in the right way.

I would recommend this book to anyone from 5th grade to as old as you can read. A wonderful book that I find very inspirational, especially for anyone that has had to deal with life’s challenges. It teaches people that everyone is different in their own special way, and everyone should be treated the same even if they look different. 

Happy Reading!!