Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Good Stories – They’re Everywhere!


Bubba in March

It’s amazing the things in our lives that are really good stories and we rarely ever realize it. I bring this up partly because we just got a new dog a couple months ago. He’s a Pomeranian. If he gets up to six pounds, he will probably be fat. He was 5.4 pounds at his last checkup, and he’s very muscular. But he’s just under five months old. Like most dogs and all puppies, he feels he needs to be involved in everything. So, when we empty the dishwasher, he invites himself inside the thing, even if the bottom rack is pulled out. Does this not sound like the jumping off place for a picture book?

In other words, he’s too cute for his own good. At his obedience class, the instructor – a somewhat grizzled man who’s been working with dogs for over 35 years – has to pick him up and let him lick his face at every single class. And he chases his tail. A lot.

Then there’s my husband who rattles through the spice shelf, going “Mmm, we can use this for grilling.” Who can’t see this turning into a young inventor or fantasies played out in the attic? (Not that I’m saying my husband is a six-year-old.)

Or, two dogs meet for the first time. When one calms down, the other gets excited.

We watch a lot of baseball. There is always something new in baseball. A while back, someone got an unassisted triple play. You guessed it, I’ve been working on a story about a kid making a triple play.

So, don’t tell me you have a good story for me. Either tell it yourself or tell me how to approach what I already have.

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A Really Good Book – The Great American Whatever

I really don’t have enough time to read a lot of young adult or general books. I read so much for my review blogs that there aren’t enough hours in the day. That, and the fact that I seem to require an awful lot of sleep, particularly in the evenings. I even joined a book club expressly so I would be forced to read something other than picture books and middle grade novels.

But I made an exception for Tim Federle’s The Great American Whatever. And it was a good decision.

Quinn, or Win, is coming up on his seventeenth birthday. He lost his sister, Annabeth, nearly six months before and is just beginning to come to terms with the loss. It was his great hope that he and Annabeth would make great movies together under Q&A Productions. Now, he’ll have to find his path without her. In addition, he feels guilty over her death, find he may not have known her as well as he thought, and is just beginning to emerge as the gay man he’ll become. An awful lot to deal with. His friends, siblings Geoff and Carly, are working to get him back into the world. Carly sets him up with another friend.

The coming-of-age and grief issues Quinn faces are universal, making all the characters relatable and likeable, whether or not you relate to being gay or even to losing a sibling. One blurb compared Quinn to Holden Caulfield, but Quinn is much more of the world than Holden and much more open about his real emotions. He loves his mother and defers to her whenever possible. He has mixed feelings about his absent father, which also makes the character ring true. He misses his sister and realizes he needs Geoff. He has hopes and dreams, though he wonders if they’ve changed with Annabeth gone. His quick wit is delightful. And he doesn’t seem to worry about phonies.

So, if you don’t have time to read this book, make time.

Buy on Amazon

Great American Whatever

  • Title: The Great American Whatever
  • Author: Tim Federle
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
  • Genre: Young adult fiction, coming of age, grief
  • ISBN: 978-1481404099





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