Monday, October 11, 2010


We have your "Jacqui." We have been tracking her for several weeks but she refuses to write our chapters. Sure, she wrote character sketches for us and has written thousands, THOUSANDS of words for this book, but WE do not yet appear. Nobody even knows who WE are. Jacqui knows, but she ain't talking. Or writing. How can we perpetrate our evil, dastardly, very lucrative, somewhat ridiculous plans if we don't yet EXIST???

So we took her. She made a valiant effort at escape this weekend -- even hopped a train to Chicago and ran 26.2 miles. This was clearly to avoid us (why else would anyone run that far?!), but it was misguided since she ran it in a big circle. We let her stop to take this photo for proof. But then we got her.

Now you may not have her back until we have finished with her. Oh, we'll give her the essentials, like food and water and access to Facebook. But other than that, she writes only for us until OUR book is written to OUR satisfaction so the world can know of our greatness.

Yes, World! YOU SHALL KNOW OUR NAMES. You know, once we have names.


The Bad Guys in Jacqui's New Book

Monday, October 4, 2010

I, robot

We did it! Or, rather, you did it and I suffered the consequences (explanation here).

YOU donated almost $1,000 to help kids learn to write at 826michigan. I ran the Big House Big Heart 5K dressed like this:

Yes, faithful readers, those ARE dryer vents on my arms. They are surprisingly warm and inflexible. And yes, that button does say "Disco" and yes, I did disco whenever someone pressed it. Fortunately, only Tink thought to press it. Unfortunately, she did so about a million times.

And yes, I did appear in front of a gabillion people, up on the Jumbotron, but no, I could not take a picture because race officials would not let me stop in the race chute. But I gave a little dance anyway, because I am a woman of my word.

NOW, some of you are kicking yourselves because you forgot to click HERE and then on my name and donate. Good news! You can still do it. PLUS, someone has donated a free massage to the fundraiser who raises the most money and I have a chance of winning. But there is stiff competition, so get there by the final count Friday at noon! Donate now! I WANT MY MASSAGE, people.

But most of all, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you, from me and 826michigan and a ton of happily writing children. Thank you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My son loves pink, a rant

Warning: extended, only remotely related to Banned Books Week rant below. Please find a more indicative sample of our regularly scheduled light-hearted silliness here.

Dear World,

Yes, my son loves pink. He loves his glittery “do you believe in fairies?” shirt and his Hello Kitty water bottle and most of all his hot pink prairie skirt that twirls and that is, along with some boxer briefs, really the perfect summer play outfit.

Yes, I know he is wearing a skirt. And I know it is pink. No need to keep pointing that out, stating the facts as though you aren’t making a judgment in your head. Stop laughing; stop shaking your head. Stop congratulating yourself on your open-mindedness by saying, “That’s so great you let him wear it,” as though maybe I shouldn’t. In fact, please stop bringing it up in front of him at all because every time you do, you teach him that as much as he loves it, there’s something wrong or at least remarkable about that. And who wants to hear that it might not be okay to love something you love? Over and over, at the mall, on the street, at school, at your own family’s house?

While we’re at it, stop “reassuring” me that “it doesn’t mean anything.” What does that even mean?! Are you trying to say that his love for pink at age 3 doesn’t prove my son is gay? Thanks for the insight. Here’s a clue: the idea of him being gay doesn’t worry me. Here’s what worries me: it’s 2010 and my pink-loving son still has to defend his right to like a freaking COLOR. It’s 2010 and there are still people out there so incredibly homophobic that they CANNOT STAND the sight of a three-year-old boy in a SKIRT. It’s 2010 and my son wore his pink shirt to school the first day and there was MASS GENDER CONFUSION on the playground because some kids already, by age 3, are so gender-indoctrinated that they REFUSED TO BELIEVE he was a boy.

It is 2010 and every single time he wears his favorite color, my son’s feelings get hurt. Every single day, he gets told it’s not okay to be who is he is. I’m not worried about him liking pink or what it “means.” I’m worried that someday people are going to make him feel so bad about himself that he wants to jump off the GW bridge.

It’s 2010. It’s time to stop hurting people’s feelings with closed, terrified minds. It’s time to stop trying to prescribe other people’s lifestyles and families and reading material. It’s time to admit that reality is complicated and surprising and full of questions to which you don’t have answers. And it’s time to let my kids – and everyone's kids -- fully participate in that deliciously diverse reality without having to worry about the whispers.

It’s 2010, World. My son loves pink. Get over it.



P.S. Thanks for the chocolate donuts, though, World. Those things are awesome.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

From the Jacqui's Room Office for Outer Space Affairs

My Thursday News of the Absurd Will Someone Please Write This Book Inspirational Moment (TNoftheAWSPWTBIM) news this week turned out to be a hoax!

I was disappointed to hear that, contrary to many media sources (all of whom should be really embarrassed for repeating it without doing any fact-checking), the U.N. did not actually appoint someone Earth's official "first contact" with alien life forms. Apparently, there is not someone in an office in Malaysia whose job is to wait for aliens to contact us.

This is very disappointing because one of you was going to write me a hilarious picture book about the bored bureaucrat sitting filing her nails, cracking gum and fielding the alien phone calls. ("Hello, Department of Earth's First ExtraTerrestrial Contact. How may I direct your call?") The official first contact was Malaysian, but I was picturing her from Jersey. And of course she was unfazable, regardless of what crazy aliens came in. "I'm sorry sir. There are no further openings for attempted invasion and take over of New York City this month. Please fill out Form P-2987 and submit it with November's application fee. Next."

Mostly, I'm disappointed nobody has to answer me this: it's all fine and well for US to know who the first contact is. But who's going to explain it to the aliens?

Oh well. At least U.N.O.O.S.A.* really exists. That's enough to feed the imagination for a while.

* the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tink, on Roald Dahl

This week, Tink is reading George's Marvelous Medicine. It, like many Roald Dahl books, has been challenged from time to time by concerned parents. So I sat Tink down for a Jacqui Reads her Children Books That Are SURE to RUIN Them FOREVER discussion.

ME: Tink?
TINK: (reads)
ME: Tink?
TINK: (reads)
TINK: (reads)
ME: I notice you're reading George's Marvelous Medicine.
TINK: It's my Accelerated Reader book. (reads)
ME: Well, you know about Banned Books Week --
TINK: (deep sigh) And this is one of them.
ME: Well, sort of. What do you think?
TINK: (reads)
ME: Tink!
TINK: (blows bangs off face by spewing air with lower lip stuck out) Here's what I think: Yes, it's maybe not so appropriate in some places. But people! It's Roald Dahl. What did you expect? (returns to reading, turning back on me)
ME: (ponders several things, including how else to celebrate Banned Books Week)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jacqui Reads Her Children Books That Are SURE To RUIN Them FOREVER

It's Banned Books Week!

Two years ago, I celebrated with Jacqui Reads Her Children Books That Other People Think Are Bad For Them. Last year I read them Even More Books That Other People Think Are Bad For Them. We've read a ton of terrible, child-harming evil, and yet, miraculously, my children's moral fiber remains frustratingly intact. So THIS year, I decided to condense the exposure AND to hit them with the biggies. I present to you:

Jacqui Reads Her Children Books That Are SURE to RUIN Them FOREVER

We started this weekend with these:

Heather Has Two Mommies
by Lesléa Newman, illus. Diana Souza

Daddy's Roommate
by Michael Willhoite

Nothing subtle there, eh? My kids were sure to be doomed.

We ran into trouble immediately. Destructo couldn't have cared less how many mommies Heather had. He was mainly worried that on the cover of her book, it looks like Heather is about to be EATEN BY A WOLF.*

Heather's story is very straightforward. Two is her favorite number; she has two hands, two eyes, and two mommies, both of whom she loves best. When Heather starts a playgroup, though, the kids talk about their daddies. Heather doesn't have a daddy and gets sad until the other kids in the class talk about how all their families are different and the teacher delivers a speech on love.

This is an important book, and a very lovey and reassuring book. It is not subtle though, and not particularly informative for modern kids with 21st century mindsets. BUT it becomes VERY interesting, terrifying even, if you think Heather's pet dog is a CHILD-EATING WOLF.

Punchy, but undeterred, we moved on to Daddy's Roommate. In the book, a little boy's parents are divorced and his dad has moved in with another man. The book is all about the fun the boy has with Daddy and his roommate.

First, check out that fantastic mustache! Thor had total facial hair envy.

Second, regardless of your politics, you have to respect an author who isn't afraid to speak his true thoughts on his book (and his whole lifestyle) being challenged.

But to the actual story. This book does not beat around the bush. It has illustrations of the men hugging in bed, it talks about their love for each other, it says they sleep together. As I read, I was thinking how red in the face Daddy's Roommate must make closed-minded book haters. But then Tink spoke up, on the page where they're at the beach.

"I know why some people think we shouldn't read this book," she said, pointing to the picture of Daddy's roommate in a Speedo-style bathing suit. "He's almost naked!"

Hmm. Later, she decided that what the book-banners didn't like must be the picture of the men wearing Red Sox hats. Because nobody should cheer for the Red Sox, I guess.

In the next episode: Underwear, the Sex Pistols, and Tink on Roald Dahl. Stay tuned.

* This is not to knock Ms. Souza; the illustrations within are cute. But you can see why he thought that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is the author?

Today's Thursday inspiration comes from Tink, who had this idea:

"What if you didn't know who the author of the book was and the book was like a mystery where you had to find out?"

I am fascinated by this. You could write it as a scavenger hunt through the internet or even, gasp, the real world, where you had to figure out what historical figure was supposedly the author.

But I want fiction. A middle grade mystery with changing points of view, one of whom has written the book but doesn't admit it. In the story, a certain book has powers of some sort. Something important* hinges on who the author is, but nobody knows. After a few chapters, we realize the book in question is the one we're holding and WE have to figure out who wrote it. I want it sort of terrifying, like if we don't figure it out before the book is over something dreadful might happen to us in REAL LIFE.

I want a smart mystery with a brand-new structure and definite chills. Who will write me this book?

* No, I don't know what powers or what hinges. And this is why YOU are going to write the book.