How to Avoid Extinction

How to avoid extinction words with dinosaur eating the a in avoid. Buick electra car with girl and dog looking out window.Acampora, Paul. How to Avoid Extinction. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016

I am still making my way through the stack of books I purchased at the Texas Book Festival last fall. It is here that the Texas Library Association announces their annual Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.  I wanted to make the live announcement, but was too late.  I was not too late to pick up a copy of the new list.  Towing my very patient husband in my wake, I hurried over to the book tent to look at the books on the list.  I selected this one.  It looked fun.

It was a fun and unexpected book.  What would you do, if your Grandma decides to hop in her 1973 Buick Electra and make an unexpected road trip? She wanders regularly and you are her appointed finder.  This is an irregular wander, even for Grandma, what would you do?  What if your Mom has become the “official head of household as well as President, Principal, Queen, and Savior” (this means she is more bossy than usual)? If you are Leo, you unhappily obey your Mom, grab your backpack, hop into that 1973 Buick Electra, and reluctantly have an adventure with your Grandma, Abbey, your third cousin once removed, and Abbey’s aged dog, Kermit.

What prompts this sudden road trip? Unfortunately, it was a death, the death of Leo’s extraordinary grandfather.  A year before this book begins, Leo’s grandfather dies unexpectedly.  He was a strong leader in their family, loving, free spirited, intrepid, wise, and smart.  His passing left a large void in the lives of those he left behind.  Leo and his Mom have always lived with his grandparents.  When Pop passed away, Mom assumed the mantle of head of household as described above.  Grandma is lonely, Leo is mopey, and Leo’s Mom is suffering in her own way.

Before he died, Leo’s Grandpa was planning a road trip to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Price, Utah. Grandma decides she needs to follow his path. As with many good books, everyone in the story discovers something about themselves and others. What does Leo discover about his family?  Does he learn how to avoid extinction? Please pick up a copy of this charming book, read it for yourself, and recommend it to someone else who might enjoy it.

I really liked this book. In January 2019, students in grades 3-6 all over Texas will vote for a book on this year’s master list to be the winner. I hope many of them decide this was a good book and vote for it.  When I was looking for the link to this year’s Texas Bluebonnet list, I read about the goals of the program.  One goal is to encourage students to read for pleasure.  My parents were readers and they encouraged me to read. I read all the time. I like to think that I became an excellent and passionate reader, because of their encouragement and my continuous practice.   This week I am attending a workshop on literacy for students with complex communication needs.  One of the big ideas this week is that all students can be readers.  To be a reader, however, a student needs to read.  We want students to enjoy reading.  It is crucial to developing their reading skills.  To enjoy reading, students need to be able to select what they want to read be it books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, websites…anything as long as it interests them. Help the children in your life love reading. Suggest books, like How to Avoid Extinction, but let them choose!


Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: May and June 2018

MayJune2018It seems like so long since I have had the opportunity to write!  May and June are grueling months in my world.  In Texas, we can tell it is summer even though it is only a short time after the Summer Solstice.  We have already had several days over 100˚. I am looking forward to some cool summer reading.


  • Reynolds, Alastair. Revelation Space.  New York: Ace, 2000.

This is a book that Jim received during the Christmas Book Flood Celebration.  He has been enjoying it.  It looks like he may finish it soon.


  • Bryson, Bill.  The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. New York: Broadway Books, 2006.

I started this book a couple of evenings ago.  It is Bill Bryson’s description (imagination?) of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa.  I can already tell that it is a book I can’t read in bed.  I chuckle too much.  He grew up in the 1950s and 60s like I did.  I am eager to see, if his experiences mirror mine.

  • Carey, Jacqueline. Kushiel’s Dart. New York: TOR Books, 2001.

I have resisted reading this book for a time.  I am glad that I gave up and read it.  It was an engaging and entertaining book.

  • Gilliam, Richard, Martin H. Greenberg, Eds. Grails: Quests of Dawn. New York: ROC Book, 1994.

I can’t remember when I bought this book at Half-Price Books.  It has been in my reading pile for at least 5 or 6 years.  I am not certain what kept me from digging into it although I prefer novels to short stories.  This is a lovely book! I shouldn’t have waited so long to read it.  It has an afterword by one of my favorite authors, Fritz Leiber.  It has stories and poetry by some other authors I favor, like Jane Yolen, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, and Marion Zimmer Bradley to name a few.

  • Grisham, John. The Litigators.  New York: Dell, 2012.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  John Grisham took it a little on the lighter side for this book.  A young, fast-track attorney can’t face another day of billable hours in his prestigious law firm.  He abandons his job and goes to get very, very drunk.  He lands at the very shady litigation firm of Finley & Fig.  How does it all end?  Read it and find out.

  • Michaels, Kasey.  Maggie by the Book. New York: Kensington Books, 2003.

Another easy read!  I needed this one as it has been a busy June.  Maggie Kelly is a romance/mystery author, who can’t seem to stay out of danger and trouble.  Her current trouble (aside from the dreaded Chapter 10) is Alexandre Black and his side-kick, Sterling Balder. They have come from her imagination to her apartment in New York.  It is difficult and aggravating to see your imagination living in your apartment. Will they stay? Will they go?  It was an amusing book.

Arthur Goes to Camp

Cover art for Arthur goes to camp.Brown, Marc. Arthur Goes to Camp. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1982.

Here in central Texas, school is out and the hot weather is upon us.  We topped out at 100˚ today.  It is going to be a long hot summer!

Do you have children?  How will they spend their time this summer?  When my girls were young we were able to send them to camp a couple of times.  They went to Day camp, Girl Scout camp, and Band camp to name a few.  They enjoyed camp and were excited to go.

In this book, Arthur’s parents are sending him to Camp Meadowbrook to learn all about the outdoors.  He is not happy!  He does not want to go!  At the camp bus stop, he is even more unhappy.  His nemesis, Francine, and most of the other girls from his class are going to the same camp.  It doesn’t matter that his friend Buster is going, too. Things were going to be just like at school, girls against the boys.

The bus passes Camp Horsewater, Camp Meadowbrook’s adversary in the annual scavenger hunt.  The campers look impressive, perhaps that is why they always win. Arthur is not impressed. On the bus, before arriving at camp, he writes his first letter home.

Dear Mom and Dad, I am not at camp yet. I am very homesick and I miss you very much. Please write soon. Love, Arthur.

This lament reminds me of the old Allan Sherman song, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. Have a listen.  It is very funny and you can compare this boy’s experience to Arthur’s.

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining

This song sums up Arthur’s opinion and experience of camp. It is just as awful as he supposed.  The girls do everything right.  They are having a wonderful time.  The boys on the other hand are not.  Arthur’s counselor, Rocky is very strict and very athletic. He wants his boys to get in shape. If the pictures in the book are to be believed, he is a little frustrated by them. The boys find poison ivy.  The girls win all the contests.  The boys find frogs in their beds, and someone runs their underwear up the flag pole. This camp is not fun! What is a boy as miserable as Arthur to do?  On the day of the great scavenger hunt, he leaves camp and heads home.

At the end of Allan Sherman’s song, the young boy finds out that there are things to be excited about at camp.  Will Arthur make it the same discovery? Will he be miserable all summer? Who will win the scavenger hunt? What is going on at Camp Meadowbrook? You will have to read the book to find out.

Whether you are going to camp, on vacation, or just staying home, pick up a cool summer book and read!

Old Kingdom Series

Old Kingdom series books: Clariel, Lireal, Goldenhand, Sabrial, & AbhorsenNix, Garth. Sabriel. New York: Harper Trophy, 1995.
Nix, Garth. Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Nix, Garth. Abhorsen. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
Nix, Garth. Clariel. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.
Nix, Garth. Goldenhand. New York: HarperCollins, 2016.

It has taken me a long time to figure out what to write about this series that wasn’t covered in other blogs.  I realized I couldn’t.  This is a wonderful series about strong women, who have choices to do what is right and uncomfortable or to forget about responsibility.  Sometimes is goes right and good prevails.  Sometimes it goes right and good prevails, but there isn’t a happy ending for everyone. Everyone works hard and there is sorrow and joy in equal measure, much like life.

This series could be considered tales of two countries: a country of magic and a country of technology.  These countries are separated by a mysterious Perimeter Wall.  South of the wall is Ancelstierre.  This is the land of technology.  Many in the southern part of this country don’t believe in magic.  North of the wall is the Old Kingdom.  It is a place of magic.  Some of it constrained in the Great Charter and some in Free Magic.  The Perimeter Wall between the two countries has an important purpose, to keep magic and the Dead out of Ancelstierre.  In the Old Kingdom, the Dead don’t stay dead.  Free magic sorcerers and necromancers use the Dead to do their bidding.  This causes problems for the living as The Dead crave life. It is the work of the Abhorsen to find and send the Dead back to the River of Death and through the Ninth Gate, where they are gone forever.  The Abhorsen, both Charter Mage and Necromancer, is the only Charter Mage who can use Free Magic and Charter Magic.  The Abhorsen and Free Magic necromancers use a set of seven bells to control the Dead and other creatures. The Abhorsen wields free magic bells and a charter magic marked sword in his/her work. At the beginning of their stories, Sabriel and Lirael are Abhorsens-in-Waiting.  Their books are coming of age stories about how they accepted their roles and strove to save both kingdoms.  I think Clariel’s story, a prequel to Sabriel, is a warning for what happens when a society becomes complacent and those with important responsibilities don’t accept them. All five of these are wonderful, compelling stories.  I am looking forward to the next installment in this series.

As noted earlier, writing about this series has been difficult. My impetus to write again is the news that my nephew and his wife are having a baby girl.  I have prepared my husband for the idea of creating another new library for a young relative.  I have more time to think about books for this little girl.  There are so many great girl protagonists in books: Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Jo of Little Women, and Elizabeth of Pride and Prejudice.  I will start her books with these four heroines and I will add Sabriel.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this series, please do so.  The long, hot days of summer are a great time for kicking back and reading something new.  Better yet, pour a glass of tea or lemonade and share these stories with a young person you know.

Garth Nix

I admire Garth Nix and have for many years.  For this series I wondered how he got the idea to use bells as a weapon.  As I was reading about him, someone else asked this question.  Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors influenced him.  If I didn’t admire him before how could I resist?  Her Lord Peter Wimsey series of which The Nine Tailors is a part is one of my favorites.  In that story he learned that church bells had names and he went on to name the Abhorsen’s bells and describe their characteristics.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard


  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer. New York: Hyperion, 2015.
  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor. New York: Hyperion, 2016.
  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead. New York: Hyperion, 2017.

Here is another great story arc based on mythology.  Have I said I love mythology?  I enjoyed these mythology-based stories as much as I did the works of Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper. Rick Riordan is an excellent storyteller.  I have appreciated his tales based on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythologies. In this series he has explored Norse mythology.

It seems that I have waited for a long time to read this series.  I have a friend who was able to hear Rick Riordan talk about his work 3 or 4 years ago.  She mentioned that he talked about his Norse series.  I have been waiting for this series to be published since that time. I have also been waiting for Alexis to finish this series so I could read it.

Like the heroes in Rick Riordan’s other series, Magnus Chase thinks he is a regular boy with crappy luck.  He witnessed his mother’s death by strange beings that looked like wolves.  She told him to run and to stay away from the only family he knew, his Uncle Randolph.  The story opens on Magnus Chase’s sixteenth birthday.  He is living on the streets of Boston trying to keep away from policemen and truancy officers. He gets a tip that someone is looking for him and off he goes. It turns out to be his Uncle Randolph.  Magnus learns from Uncle Randolph that he is the son of the Norse god, Frey. He also learns that his quest is to retrieve his birthright, the Sword of Summer, from the bottom of the Charles River.  Retrieving the sword was the easy part, the rest of the book describes his struggles to defeat the God of Muspelheim, Surt.  With this first encounter with Surt, he dies and is chosen by the Valkyrie, Samirah, to be a hero of Asgard.

Magnus goes to Valhalla.  The Valhalla of this series is a luxury hotel for heroes.  Here they can be close to the action.  The heroes practice every day to be ready for the Ragnarök, also known as the doom of the gods. When will Ragnarök happen?  Who knows, but for the God Loki, it can’t be soon enough. As in many Norse stories, Loki plays an important role in these books.  He is the chief protagonist.

Read The Sword of Summer to find out, how Magnus retrieves and (spoiler alert) keeps the sword.  Read The Hammer of Thor to see how Magnus and his friends find the Hammer that Thor carelessly misplaced.  Read The Ship of the Dead to see what mischief Loki has designed for Magnus and his friends to work against.  Does Ragnarök happen? Does the world end?  Read, read I say to find out!

Summer is coming soon!  This would be a terrific summer series for a mythologically-minded person to read.

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: March, and April 2018

Spring has arrived here in Central Texas.  We are having lovely weather.  It looks like I have spent the last three months reading and not writing.  I hope to change that dynamic this month.  It was lovely just to read.  I haven’t seen much of what the girls have read.  I think everyone has been busy these last few months.

Jim’s List

Jim finished The Chaos Chronicles this month.  He has moved on to the book he was given for the Christmas Book Flood.

  • Carver, Jeffrey A. The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3 (Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractor, & Infinite Sea). NP: Starstream Publications, 2010 (nook book).
  • Reynolds, Alastair. Revelation Space. New York: Ace, 2000.

Robin’s List

  • Colfer, Eoin. And Another Thing. New York: Hyperion, 2009.
  • Duncan, Rod. The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter. Nottingham, UK: Angry Robot, 2014.
  • Gibbs, Stuart. Spy School. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.The
  • Gilman, Sarah Jane. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.
  • Hanks, Tom. Uncommon Type Some Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
  • Jacka, Benedict. New York: Ace Books, 2012.
  • Lawrence, Mark. Prince of Thorns. New York: Ace Books, 2011.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Harper Trophy, 1995.
  • Nix, Garth. Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: 2003.
  • Nix, Garth. Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Harper Collins, 2016.
  • Novick, Naomi. New York: Del Rey, 2015.
  • Robb, J.D. Echoes in Death. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  • Willis, Connie. Uncharted Territory. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: January and February 2018


January was a great reading month for me.  I was able to read my way through some of the large stack of books I received for Christmas.  I love getting books as gifts.  I bought Neil Gaiman’s book, Norse Mythology last year for Spring Break.  I finally got around to reading it in January.  It was wonderfully informative and entertaining.  I have blogged about Bridge of Birds, Frogkisser, and Finding the Constellations. These were all stellar books.  I am a Nora Roberts fan so I especially enjoyed reading her new book.  I am reading Finding Your Why for work.  It is an interesting read.  We have been working to find our personal whys.  February was a slower reading month as you can see by the size of the stack.

These days I find out what both girls are reading from their Facebook posts.  The three of us are participating in the 52 Book Challenge 2018.

All of us here at Haus Reimund love reading and we wish you “Happy Reading, Too!”

Robin’s list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Scholastic, 2017
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Thomas, Sherry. A Conspiracy in Belgravia. New York: Berkley Books, 2017.
  • Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017
  • Roberts, Nora. Year One. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  • Hambly, Barbara. Bride of the Rat God. New York: Del Rey, 1994.
  • Rey, H.A. Finding the Constellations, 2nd New York: Sandpiper, 2008.
  • Hanks, Tom. Uncommon Type. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
  • Sinek, Simon, David Mead, and Peter Docker. Finding Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017.
  • Pilkey, Dav. The Adventures of Captain Underpants. New York: Scholastic, 1997.

Alexis’ list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Mertz, Barbara. Temples, Tombs, & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. New York: William Morrow, 1984, 2007
  • Lucas, Dale. The Fifth Ward: First Watch. New York: Orbit, 2017.
  • Maaren, Kari. Weave a Circle Round. New York: TOR Books, 2017.
  • Telfer, Tori. Lady Killers: Deadly Women throughout History. New York: Harper Perennial, 2017.
  • VanderMeer, James. Johanes Cabal the Necromancer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010.
  • VanderMeer, James. Annihilation: A Novel. New York: FSG Originals, 2014. (ebook)
  • Howard, Jonathan L. Johannes Cabal: The Feat Institute. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014.

Jim’s list

  • Nye, Bill and Gregory Mone. Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World. New York: Scholastic, 2017.
  • Carver, Jeffrey A. The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3 (Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractor, & Infinite Sea). NP: Starstream Publications, 2010 (nook book).

Sarah’s list

  • Meyer, Scott. Off to Be the Wizard. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Meyer, Scott. Spell or High Water. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Cooper, Susan. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006.
  • Holt, Tom. New York: Orbit, 2012 (ebook)
  • Howe, Deborah and James. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010 (ebook). Originally published 1979.
  • Walker, Rysa. New York: Amazon Publishing, 2014.