Arts and Culture

Blue Men, Psychopaths, and a Bad Date

Jun 18, 2018
Rachel Dratch
Sarah Stacke

John Grady is slightly burnt out after years of performing in the legendary Blue Man Group, but a surprising audience member changes his perspective.   James Fallon, a world renowned neurosurgeon, analyzes the brain scans of the criminally insane but then identifies something in a scan a bit closer to home.    Rachel Dratch ventures into the dating world and gets a rude awakening.

The Journey of Little Charlie written by Newbery Medal winner Christopher Paul Curtis, is a powerful story set in 1858 and told through the eyes of Little Charlie Bobo, the twelve-year-old son of poor white sharecroppers in Possum Moan, South Carolina.

Little Charlie’s Pap has just died in a freak accident and the landlord’s vicious overseer, Cap’n Buck, comes calling to collect $ 50.00 he says  Pap owes. With no way to pay that debt Little Charlie decides to work it off by taking Cap’n Buck’s forceful suggestion that he accompany him on a trip to bring back some thieves who stole $4,000 and escaped into Michigan some ten years earlier with their young son Sylvanus. During the journey Little Charlie comes to grips with the evil intentions of this mission when he finds out there were no thieves at all but rather two slaves worth $4,000 who stole themselves.

The story is skillfully told in dialect and will keep middle- grade readers engaged with Little Charlie’s growing need to do the right thing as he travels North to Detroit and over into Canada to trick Sylvanus into coming back with him. The authenticity of the dialect is especially effective in establishing the book’s setting. This is a natural book for reading aloud.

In the Author’s Note Christopher Paul Curtis talks about the one tenth of one percent of people who do the right thing: “And getting to know Little Charlie, I was convinced that even though he was raised awash in racism, ignorance, and all-encompassing poverty, he was a part of that  brave minority.”

The Journey of Little Charlie written by Christopher Paul Curtis and partially inspired by a true event is perfect for readers ages 9-12  (Scholastic Press, 2018).


Here's the thing about There There, the debut novel by Native American author Tommy Orange: Even if the rest of its story were just so-so — and it's much more than that — the novel's prologue would make this book worth reading.

In 1841, small-town parish clerk William Hinton got his first look at an English locomotive in action. Writer Julian Young recorded Hinton's breathless reaction: "Well Sir, that was a sight to have seen; but one I never care to see again! How awful! I tremble to think of it! I don't know what to compare it to, unless it be to a messenger ... with a commission to spread desolation and destruction over this fair land! How much longer shall knowledge be allowed to go on increasing?"

Ken Jennings — yep, you got it: affable Jeopardy! champ/trivia doyen/comedy-adjacent media personality, that Ken Jennings — is worried.

Worried, not panicked. Not even distressed, really. No, what his book Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over our Culture amounts to, really, is an extended, engaging, deeply knowledgeable, 275-page-long (312, if you count the endnotes) (come on, you knew there'd be endnotes) fret.

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