Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Don't Want to Steal My Dog!

Georgina Hayes is an eleven year old with a tough life. Her daddy left her family in the dust and her mother struggles to work two jobs, but still can't afford to pay the rent for their apartment. Georgina, her little brother Toby, and her mother are living out of their beat up old honker of a car and she'd do anything to keep her friends at school from knowing about it. If you think sharing a bathroom with your annoying little brother or sister is bad, can you even imagine what it would be like to share the backseat of a car, with only a beach towel divider? Major yuck!

One night, as Georgina lies awake, listening to the sounds of the ally where the car is parked for the night, she notices a sign for a missing dog with a reward for $500. The gears begin to turn in her head, and as desperate as she is for a real bed and a hot shower, she makes a decision: she's going to steal a dog.

According to Georgina,
These are the rules for finding a dog:
1. The dog must not bark too much.
2. The dog must not bite.
3. The dog must be outside by itself sometimes.
4. The dog must be loved a lot and not just some old dog that nobody cares about.
5. The owner of the dog must look like somebody who will pay a lot of money to get their dog back, like maybe someone who has a big house and rides in a limo or something like that.

After scouring the neighborhood for the perfect dog, Georgina and Toby settle on a friendly little black and white dog named Willy. As organized as Georgina sets out to be, her plan goes terribly awry (meaning wrong) and what happens at the end is the absolute last thing she would have expected.

Recipe to Read By: Barkin' Good Pup-cakes
These are so doggone good you'll want to howl at the moon. You can whip up a batch of these puppies in no time! (Are you diggin' the doggy lingo? Ruff!)

1 box of yellow cake mix
Your favorite frosting
Milano cookies
chocolate chips
black or brown decorator gel

1.) Bake the pupcakes using the directions on the box.
2.) Allow to cool completely.
3.) Frost using Betty Crocker or your favorite recipe. Lay it on real thick because you need enough to hold the cookies. (Plus you can lick all the frosting that plops onto the counter.)
4.) Place two Milano cookies on the sides of the pupcake.
5.) Add two chocolate chips for eyes and a red M&M nose.
6.) Draw the mouth using decorator gel.

I think everyone needs to order THESE before even thinking about making pupcakes.
If you agree, raise a paw. (Or, if you're Kendall, lick a toe.)

Don'tcha just want to cuddle them?
In case you were wondering, the brown stuff isn't really dog kibble, it's Cocoa Puffs!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Open up, it's the Population Police!

Attention all third children! I'm sorry to break it to you, but in the future, families are only allowed two children. Yes, that means that you would not exist. And if your parents decided to have you illegally, you would have to go into hiding forever. No school. No baseball. No TV. No friends. No life.

Luke is a third child, or Shadow child, who has lived in his family's attic for all of his eleven years. He yearns for a chance to go to school with his brothers, to ride a bike, to take a trip in the car, to even sit with his family at the dinner table, but as long as the government continues to strongly enforce the Population Law, he will never set foot outdoors. He and his family live in constant fear of the Population Police knocking on the door and finding out about him. And you thought being grounded was bad...

One lonely day when his family is gone, Luke stares out of the vent in the attic, watching the other families in the neighborhood leave for work or school. To his utter amazement, he catches a glimpse of another person behind the window--another third child! After many weeks of waiting and planning, he finally works up the nerve to dash across the backyard and into the house of Jen Talbot, a fellow Shadow Child. Luke is amazed to find out that Jen uses the computer, takes trips in the car, and even eats potato chips and all kinds of other junk food (which was outlawed by the government years ago)!

Here's the weird part: Jen's dad works for the government! He works for the same people who offer rewards for turning in people with third children and kill them when they are found. And his very own daughter is a third child! Craziness, I know!

Through Jen, Luke learns about the Population Law and why the government enacted it. You see, years back there were too many mouths to feed and not enough food. People went hungry and did terrible things for food. (I can understand that. You DO NOT want to be around me when I'm hungry!) The government decided that families could only have two children, so there would be plenty of food to go around. Jen thinks the Population Law is a bunch of baloney and organizes a rally of hundreds of Shadow Children to protest in front of the president's house and she wants Luke to join her. This is incredibly dangerous and risky, but it could also be their only chance at living a normal life of freedom. What will Luke choose? What would you choose?

My students LOVED this book because it's suspenseful and it makes you THINK! I haven't read the rest of the series, but Among the Imposters is at the top of my library list.

Recipe to Read By: Potato Chip Cookies

These salty-sweet bites are in memory of Luke's first junk food experience.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for coating
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup potato chips, crushed (Hint: A ziploc bag and a rolling pin work well for all crushing purposes.)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. (Be careful of flying sugar!)
3. Lower to medium speed and add the vanilla, then add the flour and cinnamon and keep on going until it's all mixed up nicely.
4. Fold in the potato chips and pecans.
5. Form into golf-ball size balls.
6. Roll them around in the sugar that's left over to get them all nice and sugary.
7. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
8. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks (or your mouth).

Sweet. Salty. Yum.

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple Magazine.