Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chet is Back!

Chet and Bernie are back, and I couldn't be happier! Because I am a pathetically slow reader, I seldom get caught up in a series. I just don't want to devote that much time to a single author. Several people in my book group are acolytes of Janet Evanovitch, and they constantly dangle her books in front of me, laughing over each plot. They can even quote from the books. OK, I have been tempted, but haven't yet bit.

But Chet and Bernie - that's a different story. First, these are dog stories in which the dog does not die. I figure Chet will never die since he is a partner in Bernie Little's crime solving adventures. So...the dog dies, the series dies. Second, I can read one of these books in an afternoon. They are the perfect pallet cleanser after a more challenging book...Shadow of the Wind Comes to Mind!

Spencer Quinn's first book, Dog On It deals with a missing person case. Book two, Thereby Hangs a Tale finds Chet and Bernie hired to guard a fancy dog show champ. In this new book, Chet's in aromatic dog heaven when a circus comes to town. This circus is a scruffy one, but Bernie's son,Charlie, is nuts about elephants, and Bernie has two free tickets, so they decide to go.
However, Peanuts, the star pachyderm has gone missing. How does an entire elephant vanish? Why do Bernie and Chet decide to hire Popo the Clown to assist with the case, and who would like to see the trio dead? It's all good fun. Chet narrates, adding to the silliness. Chet's neighbor dog pal, Iggy, is still in the picture, although he appears to be under house arrest. They communicate by running from window to window in their respective houses, Iggy often showing off the latest piece of wearing apparel he has destroyed.
There was also a bit of silliness in Moon Over Manifest, a young adult novel. This lost-soul-seeking-info is loaded with colorful characters, plenty of secrets, and some old fashioned game playing. Here's my favorite example: During basic training, Ned coaches a "slower" soldier in the basics of German. He tells him that, if he is ever confronted with a gun pointed in his direction, he must shout "Put down your weapon" in German using these words - "Ich habe widerlich footen." The truth is that phrase means "I have stinky feet." Funny, huh?

I had a nice opportunity to have dinner Friday night with friends and former co-workers from Valders High School. Nancy still teaches English at Valders, and Lucinda is in the Spanish Department. Margarette is teaching English at Lincoln, and working on her Masters, despite three charming and inventive young men under seven in her household. Alison taught Special Ed, but is now staying at home with Clayton, Andi, Molly and Patrick. I get to see them all often, so it was especially nice for me that Becky came from Green Bay to catch up. Becky might have been my biggest reason for closing the teaching door. When she started, she had that fire and passion that all teachers should have. Her lessons were solid and creative, and, on a daily basis I watched her in awe, knowing I had to move on to something where I could be a sparky as she. It was great seeing her, even though Margarette and I were both totally disturbed by the fact that Becky still looks like she's 16.

Relaxing at the Pub that night reminded me that I promised to make more time to stay in touch... in person, by email, phone, covered wagon, dogsled...whatever it takes. I hope you all will be able to do the same.