Friday, February 03, 2006

A cloudy breezy day. A dive boat is going by and the spray is coming up over the bow and almost hiding the whole boat in white as it hits the choppy waves. My stomach does the cha-cha just watching it - I get sea sick really easily. That is why we sail on catamarans - much smoother and less rocking/rolling ride than a mono hull sailboat.

The darn apartment still smells like a swamp! The owner didn't switch the cisterns and let one of them run dry. So now the water out of the other cistern smells like dinosaur pee - swampy! While taking a shower last night I made darn sure I kept my mouth closed. Just the thought of the stuff that slides off the roof into the cistern with the rain water is enough to made me shudder - lizard poop, dead critters, dead bugs, etc. Supposedly it settles to the bottom and we get the water that is above the debris but still! Steve calls me Nils for a reason! We may use cistern water for bathing and washing dishes and clothes but we buy at least 15 gallons of bottled water a week for drinking and cooking. Some of the travel guide books say the tap water in the USVI is safe to drink, but in reality it is only in the major hotels. Most everywhere else it is cistern water coming out of the taps.

I wonder if Cleopatra ever drank water? The mind takes funny detours doesn't it? Actually - the thought makes sense as I just finished reading The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams, the sequel to her debut Intermediate/MS novel, The Golden Hour, which won the IRA 2005 Intermediate Fiction Award. I loved Williams' first novel as it includes a set of African American twins, Xanthe and Xavier, who become friends with an Anglo brother and sister, Nina and Rowan, while visiting elderly relatives in an isolated Maine village that has an old hotel that is the center for time travel. In the second book the 14-year-old twins and Rowan (the same age) with his younger sister Nina are given a chance to join the Twilight Tourist Frequent Flier Club, an elite time travel organization. Currie, Edison, Einstein, and H.G. Wells are on the Board! Determined to do something that doesn't include her pushy twin, Xanthe gets involved in Cleopatra's life after the young Cleopatra mistakes her for Isis when Xanthe steps out of the time travel alleviator in a temple to Isis in 58 B.C. Alexandria. Having meddled too much Xanthe changes the course of history and the foursome find themselves in an alternate universe and have to use their heads and every other skill they can muster (including Nina luring away a lion with music) to survive and change the course of history back to normal. An absolutely wonder time travel romp with lots of historical information included - a history lesson that few tween will complain about. My only complaint about this wonderful book is that Williams keeps calling the travelers children, even when it is just the teens. I find that a bit disconcerting as children to me are younger than 14 and I can't think of any 14 year old who would like to be call a child. That is just a picky point because I absolutely love this book and I can't wait for another. Williams clearly does a great deal of historical research and she seamlessly blends this into a rip roaring fun read.

I am just finishing up the 3rd installment of Jeff Smith's Bone: Eyes of the Storm - a wonderful kid friendly graphic novel series put out by Scholastic Graphix. It is wonderful - funny, poignant, and delightfully drawn with bulb nosed Phone Bone capturing your heart and imagination. He has a crush on the beautiful Thorne and is still writing her corny love poems - none of which he has actually given her. He blushes at the thought! Add nasty rat creatures after them and a mysterious dragon that Granma Ben is angry with and you have a wonderful visual reading experience. Bone should be in every intermediate and higher library. Children and teens will love this comic character and the valley people who have befriended him. A wonderful place to start if you are building a graphic novel collection and don't know what to buy first. You will need multiple copies of these sturdy hardbound editions - Out From Boneville, The Great Cow Race, and Eyes of the Storm.

All for today.