Wait. Scratch that. All the time I read books. But sometimes I read books and they are so delightful or breathtaking or pure, simple genius (or pure, really incredibly complex genius) that I sit back and think, "Oh my gosh. I want that brain. I will keep it for my own and love it and take care of it and decorate it for all major holidays."
Fortunately for everyone I allow my author crushes to keep their brains. And sometimes I even remember to tell you about which author's brains I want so you can discover them, too. (Though I still maintain that M.T. Anderson's brain would look stunning on my mantel, all decorated with Christmas twinkle lights. Just sayin'.)
First up: A Picture Perfect Book Pair
I first discovered Mac Barnett at SCBWI's annual summer conference. Then I found out he frequently works with Adam Rex (and together they made the single greatest series of book trailers ever, EVER, bar none, for Rex's YA debut FAT VAMPIRE). I've read Barnett's hilarious and charming Brixton Brother's series, but today the kids and I discovered what else Rex and Barnett can do together. Do you know what it was?
Guess again! No, wait. I mean, GUESS AGAIN! You probably guessed right the first time, since the title is right there. Unless you aren't very bright. But you're reading my blog, so clearly you are exceptional.
I don't want to say too much about this book and give away the surprise. But let's just say it was hilarious to read with my kids after giving them a rhyming-guessing-game book education for years with IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? and EACH PEACH PEAR PLUMB. When we turned the first page they were confused. Annoyed, even. But they quickly caught on and it's their new favorite book.
In fact, today I said, "Oh, that's funny," about something, to which my seven-year-old replied, "Yeah! Like GUESS AGAIN is funny!" (Adam Rex is very pleased that Guess Again! is now a unit of measurement for degrees of funny.)
And, in a joke you'll get once you've read it, "It's GRANDPA NED!" is my kids' new favorite catchphrase. (Replacing past favorite catchphrases of "That's kooky!" and "MUSTACHE!" which, incidentally, I think Mac Barnett would approve of as well.)
Seriously, this book is so simple in its hilarious genius I can't believe no one came up with it before. But I'm glad they didn't, because it wouldn't have that special Rex/Barnett flair.
(Their brains would get finger puppets and tinsel. And fake mustaches on special occasions. On April Fool's Day they would also show up in unexpected places, like lunch bags and under pillows.)
Second Up: Writers Everywhere, Beware
I will tell you right now: Do not, do not, DO NOT read Laini Taylor if you are drafting or editing your own writing. Unless you enjoy being plunged into the depths of despair and self-loathing, and look forward to viewing your own writing as artless, soulless, trite drivel. Which, I dunno, maybe that's your thing.
I have no funny words to put here. I am too busy remembering Karou and Akiva and wanting to read the book again.
I don't want to say too much about her upcoming book THE DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE because it's still a ways away and I will talk about it again, but if it isn't on your to-be-read-immediately-without-delay-the-day-it-comes-out-because-seriously-you-do-not-need-to-eat-or-take-care-of-your-family-or-do-anything-but-get-it-trust-me list, it needs to be. You know how a lot of blurbs about books will throw around terms like lush, sweeping, epic, romantic, masterpiece, thrilling, awe-inspiring, incredible, and you read it and think, eh, sure. Sure it's all those things. Mmm hmm.
ALL OF THOSE WORDS AND MORE APPLY. Laini Taylor is an artist, and she has an artist's attention to creation. I read her writing and I want to soak in it, to fill a bath with her words and sink down to my eyeballs and just let them envelope me. (Fully clothed, of course, because we use PG imagery on this blog, folks.) (I always bathe fully clothed.) (Don't you?)
People might describe this as an "angels and demons" book. Do not let them. Read it for yourself and understand why I say you cannot describe this book. Unless you are Laini Taylor, who can describe anything. Better than you can ever even dream of doing. And she's the sweetest person alive, to make it even worse.
(Her brain would get pink twinkle lights year round, and fresh flowers, and masquerade masks. And the occasional false mustache, too, because everyone deserves that.) (MUSTACHE! GRANDPA NED!) (Ahem.)
That's all the brain envy I have time for at the moment, since I still have a contest to judge (oh my gosh I suck I know I'm sorry). But I am pleased to report that my Amazon page now recommends fake self-adhesive mustaches. Now all I need are some mantel display brains to put them on!