Sunday, December 14, 2014

Moved my blog

I am experimenting with moving my book blog to Wordpress. (It was updated there most recently.) Here is the link:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King

  Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. King   (2014)

Glory O'Brien has just graduated from high school, but she has no post-high school plans, except to take photos (her mother was also a photographer.) She is not planning to go to college b.  ecause she feels she has no future. She is still dealing with her mother's suicide that occurred when Glory was four years old. And then, she eats a bat, and can suddenly see the future and the past when she looks at other people. 

This is an intriguing book that hooked my interest nearly immediately.  I highly recommend it for teens and for adults who like to read YA fiction. 

I wish that I'd gotten the author's Dust of 100 Dogs and had her sign it back in March 2009 at the first Tucson Festival of Books. I even talked to her,  but had no idea who she was (and that she'd grow in popularity.)  I almost did but was out of cash that day from other purchases!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)

Callie is in 7th grade, and she just loves musicals and the theater.  However, she learned young that she really could not carry a tune, so therefore, she really couldn't perform in a musical.  She has found her place though and is the set designer for her middle school's latest musical production.  Meanwhile, she is having crushes on various 8th graders, and suddenly life seems crazy.

I read Telgemeier's Smile a couple of years ago, and I am surprised that I didn't read this one until now.  I personally enjoyed it very much.   In another year or two, I may consider recommending it to my nine year old niece. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (2014)

This is a book that will be of interest to boys as well as girls. The main characters are four brothers who are ages 12, 10, 10, and six. The two 10 year olds are not twins biologically. All of the brothers are adopted, and Jax and Eli were such friends as toddlers that their adoptive dads adopted them both at the same time. The oldest is Sam and the youngest is Frog (as in "Jeremiah was a bullfrog".)  The brothers are all beginning a new school year in the opening chapter of the book.  As the school proceeds, things don't go quite as each of the boys thought they would. 

I really enjoyed this book overall, and think boys (and girls) aged 8 to 10 would particularly enjoy it, as well as people who enjoy family stories.  However, something that bothers me now, and would have bothered me at that age as well (I spent time as a young child rather obsessed with what age everyone should turn in what grade.)   At 10, Eli and Jax were only starting fourth grade.  I was 10 when I started fifth grade.  It was the same with the others.  Frog was already six and only starting kindergarten, and Sam was 12 and starting sixth grade.  Excuse me, but I was 11 most of my sixth grade year . . .  perhaps all of their birthdays were in August right before the school year?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chefs and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers

Chefs and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers (2013/2014)

This book, first published last year in Belgium and Holland, is fascinating for my four year old son.  He was a chef for Halloween, and then we saw this among the new books at our local library.  He really liked hearing about what chefs actually do in a restaurant.  This is a very colorful book, with lots of foot illustrated as well. The writing is very clear and informative.  One can tell that this book was written in another country.  There are a few lines about the fishmonger.  I should find out. . . perhaps fishmongers deliver fresh fish to restaurants in the United States?  If so, then I assume some ignorance on my part!  The final  page of the book encourages kids to experiment with tastes and combinations.

My son says he is going to open a restaurant when he grows up, and already as many plans as to what is going to serve the customers.  I have also been informed that I am going to be in charge of making desserts!  And his dad is going to chop all of the vegetables and meat. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss

Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss (2014)

This is a cute book that I would have definitely enjoyed back in fourth or fifth grade . . . I like to think my mom would have let me read it. (She was always pretty cool about letting my choose my own, but tried to steer me away from horror, and toward mystery.  Let's just say, I tended to prefer more horror to mystery.   That has maybe changed a bit as an adult, but mystery isn't always my favorite genre, but then I've mostly gotten away from horror as well.) 

Edgar is a vampire, as is his family.  Vampire children and adults can choose to age as they wish.  Edgar could choose to age faster and skip sixth grade at school, or choose to skip middle school entirely.  He doesn't want to.  He wants to experience the same age as his human peers.  Some of his cousins like being teens so much that they just stay the same age for  years at a time.  

So what happens when his human classmates seems to discover that Edgar is really a vampire?  And that is against the rules of his vampire family.  He needs to pass as human.  What's a young vampire to do?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat by  Anne Rice (2014)

This is the book I have been waiting to read for a long, long time, like many fans out there. I tried to read it slowly, but I still finished it in under five days. 

I will not give away too much.  There are many other good reviews out there, as well.   I will say that I highly enjoyed it.  

Lestat has returned after many years.  Finally!  He has been hiding out mostly, but it turns out that his life has been busier than we knew.    There are also more vampires (particularly old ones) that survived Akasha's rampage back in 1985 (chronicled in Queen of the Damned) and we learn more about all of them in the course of this book, too.   There has been some criticism about this . . . that we meet more vampires and other creatures in this book, and that there is not enough about Lestat.  Actually, this is one of the things that I loved about this book. . . we finally find out so much more.  Many questions are answered in this book.    As well, science finally comes into play, too.  There are now scientist vampires!  I really enjoyed this and felt like there should be more science.  (Maybe in the next book!  Anne Rice has reported that there will be a next one.) 

And, of course, Louis is in this book.  It wouldn't have been right if Louis and all of the others were not in this book.   

I could probably be more critical, but I really do not wish to be at this time.   I love this book because I loved the earlier books twenty plus years ago.  I have not loved some of the other books Ms. Rice has published in the meantime.  I liked them, but it was Louis and then Lestat that I loved most as an older teen.    I loved this book because many questions there for years were answered. 

"Interview With The Vampire", the movie, came out in theaters twenty years ago this month.   I did see it in the theater, as well. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers

Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014)

An almost 13-year-old named Ruth, who likes to skateboard, write poetry (and publishes it on her Tumblr), and help make movies with her best friend has always known she was adopted.  Her parents adopted her as a newborn and she was in the NICU in New York.  She had a heart transplant when she was just a month old.  One day, she discovers, in the internet, a girl in England who looks exactly like her!  So she emails Ruby.   The entire book is told mainly through email, texts, poetry, and some of Jedgar and Ruth's "Shorca!" scripts.  

I recommend this book for 10 to 12 year olds in particuar.  It deals with what it means to be a friend, a sister, a child, and finding forgiveness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (AudioVersion)

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (2013) - Audio CD version as read by Tara Sands.

I have enjoyed playing audio books in my car for years now.   Now, since my four-year-old is often in the car as well, I try to get interesting juvenile audio books for us to listen to together.  

This one was quite a fun listen.  Ms. Sands does a wonderful job with voicing the various voices, which is something I really enjoyed as an adult. My son really enjoyed the parts with Ulysses,  the superhero squirrel . . . particularly the chapter about the donut with sprinkles.  Superheroes need to eat frequently. . .  at the least, Ulysees does!  

Flora has been tasked to spend her summer reading fewer comics, etc, and making more "normal" friends.  Instead, she has a squirrel with super powers, and a new friend named William Spiver (and don't you dare call him anything shorter!)  Flora's mother seems to be going a bit crazy since Ulysses arrived. She has also taken up smoking again (something I do not care for in a book for kids, even kids aged eight to 12.)  I wish there had been more adventures with Flora and Ulysses, actually.  It seemed like there were not enough in the narrative of this story.

Even thought I did like this book overall, I must say that I expected more adventures and less nervous mother chain smoking. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead Zone by Stephen King (published 1979)

I must first disclose that I first read this book in its entirety in 1990.  At that point, it really was not that long since the events (real and fictional) in the book (the entire 1970s) had taken place.  I was born in the decade in which this book took place.   This was the third or fourth Stephen King title I read (I read as many as possible between 1989 and 1991.)   I think I re-read it a few times over the 1990s, but have not read it at all in at least 15 years (or possibly more.)  I just read the e-book version, and I realized how long it has been.  As an adult who is now significantly older, I think I now appreciate this book in other ways. 

I liked this book when I first read it  because it was less gory than many of Mr. King's other books. I must admit that I still like it because of this (really, in the last 17 years or so, I have had a lot less taste for gore.)  Probably everyone already knows this story already . . . Johnny Smith was in an accident, and is in a coma for almost five years. He now sometimes gets knowledge from  people and things he touches.  

As an adult now, I feel like there was not enough back info about Johnny, more flashbacks about his childhood, etc. 

 As an adult, I understand even better the absolute sadness of  this story.  As a young teen, I cried, but now having had more of my own personal experiences, the absolute sadness of the whole situation Johnny is in just hit me in the gut. 

Back in 1990, after reading the book, I checked out the movie with Christopher Walken from the local library.  I really liked the movie version, although of course there were differences.   Back in 2002/2003ish, I watched the TV show version, which had even more differences . . . it was okay. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2000.)  

When this book first came out, I was a newly-minted professional Youth Services Librarian.   I tend to also be a worrier. . .  so fell in love with this book immediately!  I kept a copy on my storytime planning shelf at work.  Yes, I did indeed use this book occasionally with preschool storytime sessions.  

Recently, I introduced this book to my son, who started preschool two weeks ago.   He likes the book, but he does not totally relate with it.  He does worry about some things (especially bathroom-related things), but does not worry about all of the things Wemberly worries about.  Wemberly worries about this following:

"What if no one else has spots?  What if no one else wears stripes?  What if no one else brings a doll?   What if the teacher is mean?   What if the room smells bad? What if they make fun of my name?   What if I can't find the bathroom?  What if I hate the snack?   What if I have to cry?"   

Wemberly's parents try to tell her not to worry, but we all know from experience that sometimes that is easier said than done! Read the book to find out what happens to Wemberly as she starts school.  

I also recommend this book to be used in storytime when appropriate to the theme of the day.  


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara (published Roaring Book Press), 2014.  

This picture book is interesting in that the illustrations printed (or appear to be) in an "old-fashioned" three color printing press style.   The story is engaging for my four-year-old son who already loves libraries and animals.  The library in this story is open from midnight to dawn, and everyone has a grand time.   The Little Librarian even finds a room for the band of squirrels to practice their music.   It is a story that my son has wanted us to read aloud every day for the last week. 

My four-year-old says the following about this book: "This is a library book.  It is about a little Librarian.  Three owls.   They help the Librarian. My  favorite page is when the library gets noisy from the music." 

We highly recommend this book.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carolyn Haywood

This is a link to a short bio on Carolyn Haywood.  Her Betsy books were some of the first chapter books I read independently.  I loved them. . . especially the "old fashionedness" of them, as I called it. My favorites were Snowbound with Betsy and Betsy's Little Star.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

End Times: The Prophet Emerges by Anna Schumacher

(Published in 2014 by Razorbill) 

This is a YA book I checked out as an e-book because it was available.  I ended up getting more into it than I thought I would. I will read the next book as well, because I need to know what happens.  Even though I want to know what happens next, that does not mean that I connected with the characters.  All of them, even the main character, feel rather undereveloped to me.  There is a distance. Perhaps this is purposefully done by the author. It made me, the reader, frustrated with the characters at times.  The main character is Daphne, who has had a rather rough life recently, but uses her confidence and strength to get an intense job on an oil rig at age 17.  Her teenage cousin is pregnant and expecting a baby with her not-so-great boyfriend.  Things are looking up in their lives. . . until they are not.  

I do recommend this book (series) to those who enjoy end-of-the-world and/or dystopian fiction.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (2014)

 This book, intended for middle grade readers (main character is 13 years old), is a fun read.  Abby Spencer does not know her father.  Her mother knew him when he came to the United States from India to attend college.  When they'd both graduated, they split up because they always knew that her (Abby 's father) would be returning to India in part because his parents were there.  Her mother did not know she was pregnant until later.  She wrote him a handwritten letter, which he never received.   

Now, Abby wants to know who her father is.   And she is shocked to find out that he is the hottest Bollywood star in India!  For Thanksgiving, she heads to India to meet her father and paternal grandmother for the first time.   

This is a fun read with some cultural clash as well as some angst of being a young teen.  Abby finds a boyfriend in India (although he is also from - another part of - Texas.)  I highly recommend this book!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting  by Ann Brashares (published in 2011)

Why didn't anyone warn me about this book?

I had read the other books years ago now, as they came out.  I saw the movie version of the first book first run in the movie theater.

I was not aware of this book for some reason. Or maybe it blipped onto my radar screen so briefly, I heard was it was about, and decided to forgo reading it. 

I checked it out as an ebook.  I was shocked that I had not seen it previously.  To find out what happened to all the girls ten years later as they are on the cusp of thirty?   Yes, please. 

I finished reading it in less than a day.  I just had to keep going, even though at the same time I wondered why?  Why would the author do something so awful to one of the girls?   Sure, it it realistic that something might happen to one of the girls, andneb I know that.  Still, I just wanted a nice, and maybe fairly bland story about their present lives.

Bland it is not.  I really won't share too much of what actually does happen in this book (except that it really takes Carmen too long to realize she is not in the right relationship for her . . .)   I would encourage you that if you read at least the original book, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, that you should at least read this one.  It turned out to be a powerful read.  Ms. Brashares crafted it well, unrolling more information just a bit at a time so that the reader needs to just keep reading. I have seen the criticism that the girls remain immature, but that is pat of the point. Most of the girls have remained "stuck" in parts of their lives - mostly emotionally - and this is this story of how they become unstuck and really begin to grow up.

To skip to the end will not tell you anything. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann. M. Martin

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann M. Martin

This is the latest installment of the Family Tree series by Ann M. Martin.  I must say that i picked up the first book because I love genealogy and the idea of a "family tree" type of series thrilled me.  However, the first and second books kind of left me cold - not in a Stephen King kind of way - but in the way that some members of this family do not get along.  Another way they left me cold is in the style they are written.  Sometimes they feel like warm family stories and at other times, I feel detached and separated as the reader, as each chapter sometimes skips months or even years from the one before.  This book and the first two leave me with very mixed feelings.  This third one also ended with the main character, who grew up during the 1970s and ends in the 1990s, in a relationship and pregnant just as the first two did.  These books are also trying to explore both mother/daughter relationships and father/daughter relationships, and in many ways are probably fairly realistic of some families.    

I want to see what is going to happen in the fourth installment.  I thought that this third one didn't quite leave me as "cold."  It was wrapped up a little better, although Francie's mother, Dana (the main character of the second book), still has an ongoing battle with her mother Abby (main character of the first book).  I still can't discern the exact reason. They just don't quite get along because of decisions they've both made.  

In this book, Francie is age seven when the book opens, and it struggling to learn how to read because of dyslexia.  Soon she's made life-long friends, but over the coming years her immediate family goes through changes.  The next book will feature Francie's daughter.

I don't know what age I would actually recommend these books for.  I suppose ages 9 to 13.   I would have probably enjoyed these when I was about eleven years old, to be specific.  I might have been annoyed then, too, that some things are never resolved in this story.

Overall, I gave this one four out of five stars on LibraryThing.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Little House and LIW in my life: Part One

As a young girl of about eight years old, I became obsessed with all things to do with the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To note, by that time I'd seen a handful of the television show episodes (I saw more of them the next year when a local channel started carrying syndicated reruns.) The show's original run was nearly coming to an end by then.  Anyway, I'd seen enough to know that the tv show was really nothing like the books, and had already become a separate entity in my mind.  (I know there are still people out there who think the events and people in the tv show are the complete real-life truth.)

When I was five years old, my mother read Farmer Boy aloud to my brothers and I.  The chapter that sticks out the most in my memory is when Almanzo and his siblings are left alone for the week to mind the house and farm on their own.  They use up almost all of the sugar making and eating sweets, and Eliza Jane has to repair the parlor wallpaper from where the blacking brush hit the wall after Almanzo threw it.

A couple of years later, I borrowed Little House in the Big Woods from the Wanamaker Branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library.   I remember really enjoying it, and then borrowed Little House on the Prairie.  I was reading ahead of where they had me in reading group in elementary school.  (My fourth grade teacher finally recognized that I could read very well, and moved me up to where I should be - in the highest reading group.  It was just previously - in first grade - I was so shy and nervous that sometimes my speaking/reading aloud was not great, but it was just nerves! Same in second and third grades. . . even though I was reading chapter books on my own silently just fine.)  In fact, I usually read the entire reading text books at the beginning of the school year, and it was pretty borrowing the remainder of the time.  

Anyway, I digress. 

I think steadily read the whole little house series so that by the summer I was nine I was re-reading the whole series.  I had my favorite titles.  I have shared one or two of my favorites in the past on this blog.   I still think Little Town on the Prairie was and is one of my absolute favorites of the series.  I loved seeing Laura growing up and having some fun with friends and family.  This book also is not quite as bleak as some of the others.  As an adult, I think I appreciate the later books in the series as well because apparently Rose (Wilder Lane) may not have done quite as much work on them.  Rose did a great job shaping the books, etc, but according to Pamela Smith Hill, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life, Rose simply did not have the time or energy to put quite as much time into re-writing her mother's stories later on as she did with the first books in the series.  
I have more to say about the books, and also about my visits to a couple of the home sites over the years, but  I will tackle those things in a future post!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Currently Reading: I Am Malala by by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (Contributor)

I am currently reading I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2013).

I am a little over halfway finished with it.  I have been fascinated with learning more about the history of the region Malala was born and grew up in.   The first hand account of what happened to lead up to her being shot is interesting, although at times it has been a little dry.   Sometimes I have wanted to know more about her feelings in certain situations.  I have just gotten to the chapter about the actual shooting, so I will have to update my review as I finish reading this book.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry

Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry (2014)

I highly recommend this book for readers ages eight to twelve.   It is an adventurous read.  A boy named Spencer (who is going blind eventually, though not yet in this book) and his friend Gregor (who is on the autism spectrum) love to run, and that is how they become friends.   Spencer's mom is into doing kind things and so has him signed up to visit regularly with an older man at an assisted living home.  The older gentleman is Ed.  Ed has a book he acquired many years before in Europe.  It is rather magic - if just the right person taps the page and pulls the book mark across, the person on that page will spring to life outside the book.   We readers meet Teddy Roosevelt, Socrates, and Martin Luther King, among others.   However, there is someone after Ed, Spencer, Gregor and Ed's great-granddaughter Mel who want to get his hands on this book.  And there is another mysterious gentleman who looks remarkably like Al Capone.  How does this all tie together?  Read this book and find out!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Play It Again, Mallory by Laurie Friedman

Play It Again, Mallory by Laurie Friedman
(Published August 1st 2013 by Darby Creek)

I admit that I read this book because of the cover!  I loved the image of a young girl holding a tuba and does not look thrilled about it.    I was on mymediamall looking for a book to check out for my kindle, and being a youth librarian at heart, I decided to peruse the juvenile fiction offerings available.  I found this one, and had never read any of this series before. This book is geared toward second through fourth grade level readers, and I recommend it to readers of that age and level.

The main character is in fourth grade.  They have instituted a new arts exploratory program in her school
school.   Each of the older students much submit their first, second and third choices.   Mallory asks for drama first, ballet second and band third.   All her friends get their first choices, and Mallory gets put in her third choice!  The new band director says that she has a talent for matching students with the instruments that are right for them.   Mallory gets assigned the tuba, and she is quite sure that she cannot play the tuba.  Read this book to find out what happens!

(As a note, my mom started my on the flute many years ago - which I liked - but years later, my brother told me that with my ombrochere, I should have played low brass instead.  Perhaps that's what Mallory's band director saw in her!)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullins

Sunrise by Mike Mullin

This is the third book of the trilogy, and honestly, I did not care for the violence in this book.  I did enjoy that they are able to get a society going again. 

That is all I have to say about this one. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Pigeon

My son got a book for Christmas that he still adores, but it is the only book he wanted at bedtime for over a month.  This was the book:

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  by Mo Willems.

Soon after, we discovered the rest of the Pigeon books at our local library.  There is the book about not letting the pigeon stay up late.  The one about the pigeon wanting a hot dog. The new one that came out just this spring about the pigeon needing a bath. And, of course,  my son's other big favorite in this series:

The Duckling Get a Cookie!?  by Mo Willems

This one is kind of fun because of the added animal character of the duckling.   I read it to my son with different voices for the two characters. 

If you have preschool aged children, I highly recommend these books.  Of course, there is also the excellent iPad app for the Pigeon.  My son enjoys this app on the library iPads (we don't own our own device at this time.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Claudia and the Bad Joke (Babysitters' Club series #19)

Claudia and the Bad Joke (The Baby-Sitters Club, #19)
by Ann M. Martin (and it seems that she actually wrote this one.  Most of the later books in the series were written by other authors.) 

Orig Pub Date: 1988
Date I First Read It: 1988 (Read quickly at a store.)
Stars (1-5):  3.5

Brief summary:  Claudia is the victim of a joke gone bad at the hands of her babysitting charge.  Her leg is broken.  She gets lots of visitors at the hospital compared to her hospital roommate, who seems to have little going on socially.  She is also considering retirement from babysitting. 

Some comments:  I have seen it noted on other blogs that Claudia's leg on this cover looks extremely long.  I have always wondered what I found disturbing on this cover, and that's it! Her leg is too long!  However, having a too-long leg gives her a lot of space to create art on her cast, which she does once she gets out out of traction and goes home.  I think this book still takes place during one of their first years of eighth grade.  (The older members of the Babysitters Club were in 8th grade for 14 years! See my post about the members of the Babysitters Club turning 40 this year!)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Babysitters Club Turns 40?

This has probably already been said, but if my calculations are correct and reasonably close, the girls in the Babysitters Club will be turning 40 this year or have already just recently turned 40. 

Way back in 1986 when the first BSC book was published, calculating as I always do and did when I read a book - if there's no time frame given, we can assume it takes place in the present.   When I was eleven in 1986, the original four girls of the Babysitters Club were twelve years old, more or less.   So they were approximately a year older than me! 

I read many of the earlier books even though at the time I was also already reading YA fiction, and some adult nonfiction by age eleven. I had tested at a higher reading level in school, as well.  However, I saw these books at the library, and could read each one in a hour and a half or less.   I liked the idea of girls being friends and organizing their babysitting together. (I just had no idea it would become a series of well over a hundred books that would eventually be ghost-written after a while.  Ann M. Martin did not write all of them.) 

Anyway, if the girls hadn't been stuck in 8th Grade for thirteen or more years, they would be turning 40 this year! They should have well-established lives.  I am curious.  I have found some fan fiction online, but some of it is just plain weird (and rather badly written.)  Some of those people have answers for what happened to the characters.  I have liked none of those stories, really.

According to this link, Ann M. Martin had somewhat vague things to say about where the BSC girls would be now.   It doesn't tell us if they got married, had children, specific careers, etc. 

Here is in interesting (and more detailed) take on where the characters would be now:

I might attempt to write up my own "where they are now" descriptions. I also wonder if they would all be on Facebook as well, and what their profiles would look like.  (Although the second link I have included above says that Mary Anne does not know how to use the Internet . . . I find that impossible to believe.  Really, if Mary Anne is keeping the photos of her children safe from fire, she will learn how to use the internet to make sure everything is also digitally-stored and backed up!  Hmm, I will have to write my own version of their futures - in the future.)