The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters trilogy – The Jolly Regina, The Uncanny Express, The Flight of the Bluebird – is funny. Jaundice and Kale Bland live in Dullsville.  You can tell the twins apart if you look closely.  Jaundice favors gray.  Her hair is parted in the middle.  She is left handed and sports a multi-pocketed smock she stitched herself from old curtains and couch upholstery.  Kale prefers brown.  Her hair is parted on the side.  She is right. Handed and is rarely without her backpack where she carries her handy reference book. – Dr. Snoote’s Illustrated Dictionary for Children, Tillie’s Tips or Taking Off with Trip Winger.

Aside from those differences, the Bland sisters are just about the same as you can see from this passage on page 3 from The Jolly Regina. 

“Jaundice and Kale pride. Themselves on their exacting routine.After breakfast (plain oatmeal with skim milk and a cup of weak, tepid tea on the side) they tend to their. Business of darning other people’s socks, with tased the better part of the day.Each allows herself one ten-minute break, during which she eats a cheese. Sandwich on day-old bread and drinks a glass of flat soda while gazing out the window, watching the grass grow.…It should be mentioned the Jaundice and Kale have parents.Several years ago, they left quite suddenly to run an errand of an unspecified nature, The Bland Sisters don’t tend to dwell on it. Too much, as they are sure their parents will return any day now.”

While Jaundice and Kale avoid excitement and surprise in every way possible, it seems that adventure and intrigue seek them out.  First, they are kidnapped by an all-female band of pirates  from the Jolly Regina ~ but when they finally arrive at Gilly Gunns Island, their once marooned parents are no longer there.  Second, rather than meeting their Aunt Shallot at the train station and bringing her home as planned, they are whisked away to become assistants of Magique and later to Detective Hugo Fromage as they attempt to solve the magician mysterious disappearance from the express train to Uncanny Valley.  And finally, they are spirited away almost immediately by Beatrix Airedale, pilot of the Bluebird, who has been sent by the Bland’s parents in the hope that Kale and Jaundice will finally rescue them from their pursuer and bring them home.

The series is made more fun by the ironic details and puns inserted throughout.  I snickered at the pirate named Captain Ann Tennille.  It took me until the 3rd book to catch onto the connection of getting lost and Gilly Gunns Island – Good Lord! 😁. Other names like Port Innastorm, Countess Ima Goudenoff (maiden name Nutt), Vera Dreary and the villain team, Victor and Uggo made me smile right away.  There are references to classic books, movies, and historical figures throughout to increase the fun, but I wondered if student readers would notice them.  Maybe- maybe not.  To increase the odds, these books would be great choices for a parent/child book or multi-age book club with a challenge to collect funny details from each reading.  

This trilogy is great fun!   It’s okay to be bland, but finding time of new things and a bit of adventure is okay too.

Happy Reading! 📚 These books are best enjoyed with with day old cheese sandwiches or stale hardtack washed down with tepid tea or flat ginger ale. 

PS – Here are some other books by Kara LaReau you might enjoy –

Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken?

A few weeks ago I read this book’s  companion Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.  It was such fun, I quickly found the next book.  In it, Sophie continues her work with Unusual Chickens and begins to revitalize her recently inherited, Redwood Farm.  Hortensia  James, reaches out to Sophie through email to return two new Unusual Chickens that Agnes had loaned her when she could no longer care for them.  She also sends Sophie her first clutch of eggs.  This means lots of learning about incubators and caring for the eggs as a mother hen would.  Thankfully she has friends to help her with this – Chris, Sam and Gregory.  They know about poultry and they know about Unusual Chickens.

In addition to those friend’s, Sophie’s cousin, Lupe, comes to stay with them when she begins college close by. Sophie is thrilled to have more of her family on the farm.  Unfortunately not everyone is as welcoming to people with brown skin.   As Sophie learns how to care for chicks and to discover all she can about each species of unusual chicken, middle school begins, Sophie holds a potluck work party to clean up Redwood Farm and she finds a way to help Lupe and Sam solve problems that come their way.

What kinds of Unusual Chickens will Sophie hatch?  How will she learn about them and care for them?  What will she do to make sure they are safe?  How will she bring Redwood Farm back to its past glory?  Will Sophie pass the inspection conducted by the Unusual Poultry Committee, Northern California Division?Will Mrs. Griegson help, or hurt the farm? What will happen next?  Read to find out – you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Reading! 📚

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Sophie’s summer vacation has just begun.  She’s moved from LA to  the very small town of Gravenstein, California. She’s living on the farm her dad inherited from his Uncle Jim.  There’s nothing but dust and junk and grapevines with no grapes.  It’s lonely, but Sophie is determined to make the best of things.  She will, if she can figure out what to do.  Tacked on the wall inside the barn, Sophie finds a flier advertising “unusual chickens” along with an address to inquire about a catalogue.  Sophie thinks a farm with chickens could be more interesting than what she is living with now.  She asks about getting the catalogue.  Her mom agrees it can’t hurt, and suggests she write a business letter to Redwood Farm requesting one.  Sophie gives her letter to Gregory, the mailman, who says he’ll deliver it the next day.

While she waits, Sophie decides to organize some of stuff Great Uncle Jim has collected all over the farm.  She discovers a typewriter in the hayloft and makes a space for herself there.  It is peaceful.  Typing reminds her of her Abuelita, and Sophie begins to write to her, sort of like a diary.  She knows her grandmother won’t answer, but it eases her loneliness to connect with someone. she knows loves her.  

Sophie continues to explore the farm looking for things to do.  She finds a little tipped over house and wonders what it’s for.    She soon discovers it’s likely for an angry little white chicken who appears from the blackberry bushes the next day.  Sophie decides to care for it while she figures out what to do.  Now she really needs to hear from Redwood Farm Supply because she has a chicken that is indeed “unusual.”  Henrietta (named after the chicken in The Hoboken Chicken Emergency) has telekinetic powers.   

After Sophie discovers this chicken has powers, several things happen at once.  Sophie receives a response from Agnes, the owner of Redwood Farm Supplies, telling her that Henrietta is one of Great Uncle Jim’s chickens and admonishes her to keep the chicken a secret in order to keep her safe.  Someone named Sue Griegson (who’s about the same age as Sophie’s parents) claims to be missing chickens and tries to steal Henrietta.  More of  Great Uncle Jim unusual chickens come home to roost with Henrietta.

Using information she learns from library books and the librarian, from talking to Gregory, the mailman, from the i chicken-care correspondence course sent to her by Agnes, and help she receives from other poultry loving kids in town, Sophie knows she has a lot of work to do to keep her flock happy, healthy and safe.   She is determined to do what is right, even when it is challenging and makes her reach outside her comfort zone.

Read Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones with illustrations by Katie Kath. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it – and hope for more.  It is fun.  The writing is great.  The format is unique.  The illustrations are funny.  It’s a lighthearted story that will make you smile and think at the same time.

Happy Reading!📚

PS – If anyone reads this who knows Vera M please tell her about this book.  She’ll definitely appreciate the chickens!