Tag Archives: lemony snicket

Where’s my stick when I need it?

bad mood stickI do actually have one – a big stick.  I acquired it years ago, when I was supposed to be supervising students in a college semester program.  I found it on a group retreat, cleaned it up a bit, brought it back to the dorm, and then leaned it against the makeshift bar several of the students had built in my “office.” I was the worst enforcer of rules ever.

I could have used that stick the other day at the library to poke a problematic patron – as Curly pokes her brother Napoleon in the book.  Unfortunately, my stick was at home, and you can’t really go around poking your patrons with a stick, even if they deserve it, can you?  Supervisors hate that kind of thing.

As it happens, though – much as in the book – the bad mood traveled right along with him when he left in a huff.  Those bad moods, they can really poison an otherwise nice enough day!  Fortunately, though, they don’t have to stay with YOU.

So this might be just the perfect book to talk about moods with kids.  Turn that smile around, people.  Let the bad mood travel on around the world.  Get some ice cream.  Poke your brother with a stick.  Spread the joy.

The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket and Matthew Forsythe

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Friendships, found and lost

Does the ghost of a goldfish over an empty bowl require explanation?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You might not need to explain the fact that the ghost is there because a goldfish has died, although you don’t see the body or anything.  Anyone who’s lost a fish and had the funeral in the garden — covering the goldfish grave with shells gathered on a beach – will understand what has happened.  And by the time the new fish appears several pages in, it’s clear what has happened.

But is it sad?  Not especially.  Goldfish Ghost is about friendships found, not lost.  The ocean fish ghosts might not be the right place for a goldfish ghost, but the right place and person/ghost will appear, right?  This struck me as kind of a weird book for children initially.  (Weird?  From Lemony Snicker/Daniel Handler?  What a surprise!)  It’s not a warm and fuzzy book about losing your goldfish and dealing with grief, but it IS, somewhat strangely, a book about it being ok that goldfish–and by extension, people – die.  Also, there are some wonderful visual references to other children’s books about fish.  That’s cool, too.

South, on the other hand, is about friendships lost.  Sometimes the person, or bird, you befriend cannot overwinter where you are.  They could stay with you, but it just wouldn’t be right to hold them back from what they’re meant to do and the home they’re meant to find.  Can you be happy at the new life they will lead?  You can.  Can you find joy in your own?  Of course.   And there’s more wonderful detail here to find – a picture of a squid, a cactus, a Polaroid camera, whales, expressive mustaches…

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown

South by Daniel Duncan



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