Alas, I spend most of my time reading for class (which means skimming books I've read dozens of times before or reading student writing), reading for work (right now, lots of, mostly, random articles and essays on romance novels), or reading to children (we're making our way through the Lemony Snicket books, which I am finding deeply disturbing).
Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, featuring a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school, hits the mark. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.
The hysterical giggles from her room go on well past bedtime when's she reading this book.
Once Upon a Time, The End (Asleep in 60 Seconds). It's Amazon description:
Here's a fresh approach to fractured fairy tales: take one small child's insatiable demand for "just one more story" and add a sleepy parent's wish to get the bedtime ritual over with as quickly as possible. The result is this collection of eight condensed folktales. For example, Goldilocks and the Bears begins, "There were some bears;/It doesn't really matter how many./There was a bunch./Let's get to the point" and ends, "When the bears came back,/They found her asleep./She woke up, screamed, and ran home/So she could sleep in her own bed./Just like you." The sometimes sly, sometimes outrageous, sometimes simply silly humor will go over the heads of most preschoolers, but it's right on target for their older siblings (and tired parents, of course)
Thelonious Monster's Ski-High Fly Pie.
The tune for I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is likely to echo in children's minds as they listen to the words of Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie, in which an earnest monster chef intends to swallow hundreds and thousands of succulent flies. After obtaining some helpful hints from a spider via e-mail, Thelonius creates a sticky crust, gathers flies, attaches them to the crust, and invites eleventeen ravenous monsters for dessert. The resulting creation is a thing of beauty: the flies hum, they sparkle, they play orchestral music. And, alas, they fly away. Thelonius has forgotten to bake the pie, and off it goes.
The picture of the flies flying off with a gooey pie stuck to all their little feet apparently never fails to be funny.
One day soon I'll get to finish Sag Harbor, or Asterios Polyp, or Devil in the White City. But not today.