Monday, November 15, 2021

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday # MMGM Book Review: The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler by Karen Pokras

Eleven-year-old Danny Wexler is growing up in a factory town during the late 1970s. His days are spent going to school, taking piano lessons, playing kickball, and hanging out with his friends. Danny has a Super-Secret Spy Notebook where he jots down mysteries he's trying to solve- like if his piano teacher is part tarantula. He's had a lot to add to his notebook recently, especially with all the reports of a white van approaching children in local towns. People are talking. Danny and his best friends, Frank and Nicholas, have a theory about the van and missing children. They know the Bermuda Triangle is involved. It has to be! They've read all about it in one of Frank's encyclopedias. Their investigation into the possible white van suspects leads them to theories about werewolves and aliens. Will they be able to solve the mystery of the white van? Is Danny's piano teacher part spider? Does the Bermuda Triangle have a role in what is happening? You'll have to try to piece together the clues with Danny to see how it all turns out!

I have read and enjoyed other books by Karen Pokras, so I was excited to get my hands on a brand new copy of The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and mysteries, so this was a winning combination for me. Danny and his friends may have been growing up in the 1970s, but they were still easy to relate to, and I loved Danny's Super-Secret Spy Notebook. I definitely know how important it is to keep track of clues. It's amazing what you can notice when you keep a list of the facts. I liked the way aliens and the Bermuda Triangle were explained. I asked my mom about the Bermuda Triangle, and she told me when she was growing up she worried about the disappearances there. I definitely need to learn more about that area. I felt sorry for Danny as he dealt with struggles with friends. It's never easy to have problems with our friends, and watching the way some people were treating him because of his religion was really sad. I'd recommend this book to kids in third grade and up who like mysteries, realistic fiction, and history woven together. I look forward to reading more books by Karen Pokras and hopefully Danny and friends will have another mystery to solve.

Has anyone else read The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler? Or have you read another book by Karen Pokras? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading!

For other MMGM posts, please visit Greg Pattridge's blog.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Answer to Fairday's Riddle: Mysterious Triangle...

Excellent guessing, Riddlers! We'll be sailing into a mystery next week. Tune in Monday to find out how the answer ties into the story. See you all around the book block! ~ F

Troubled triangle.

Phantasmagorical pass.

Deep mystery dive. 

What am I referring to? Answer: Bermuda Triangle

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Fairday's Riddles: Vanished into the Abyss...

Hello, Riddlers! My haiku riddle was lost, but then found- this is against the odds in this infamous place. Tune in Sunday to find out the answer. ~ F

Troubled triangle.

Phantasmagorical pass.

Deep mystery dive. 

What am I referring to? Stop by Sunday for the answer.

I gave you a clue!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Spooktacular Story Time...


Eleanor Skeleton is here to haunt Fairday's book blog once again. Fall down the rabbit hole and soak in the spooktacular vibes. 

"I'm here to rattle your bones and fire up your imagination. Beware, dear reader- stories want to steal you away, and you may become lost in their lines. They do this because if you don't swallow them, they rot. To keep your wits when you digest stories, remember who you are- the one eating them up."

Eat Your Words

Our story did not want to rot. It wished to live, so it set out to find a dream. 
Stories are not alive or dead. They don't breath air or eat things. A story craves attention. 

Dreams are something else; they are born in mind. Stories are crafted from the stuff of dreams, and people are their path to living. 

Words have the power to reel a person this way or that, charging them one way or the other, or not at all. 

If a story wants to survive it must stick to the bones like a steaming bowl of oatmeal. 

Minds eat stories like guts eat proteins. Food for thought. Thought for food.

Our story did not want to die. It did not want to be forgotten like the others. They had fallen off the ledge; disappeared forever. Our story would not let that happen. It would survive. 

So it sailed off on the sea of dreams until it found a dream so powerful that no one would ever forget it. This dream's dark storm of plasma waves frothed and surged, tossing our story about. But it rode the waves, mightily holding its lines together, until it came upon a secret place swirling with pure emotional energy.

Our story gripped tight to its purpose, fighting the plasma waves burbling around it. When our story washed up on shore, it seeped into the sand like the blackest ink you can imagine. 

Energy Flow

Our story found its solid plot and soaked the scene. In no time it would be realized, and once it was, all would be compelled by its riveting characters and twisted tangents. 

But, of course, you are the master of stories, and whichever stories you pay your attention to is forever up to you. Eat your words wisely.


Speaking of eating words- 
these mysteries are bursting to be devoured!

Reviews for The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow and Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library


The novel builds to an exciting climax that takes magic in stride and suggests that further mysteries await the DMS trio. 

~ Publishers Weekly

Read the full review

This paranormal mystery will be of interest to young readers looking for something spooky but not violent or scary.


"[The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow] moves briskly and includes magic, action, and suspense."


This fine combination of clever kids, arcane mysteries, and witty conundrums falls nicely in-line with other novels featuring riddle-solving kids and literary and linguistic references.

~ Publishers Weekly

Read the full review

The plot is unique, imaginative, creative, and fresh and I like how the authors bring the written word, grammar, books, and libraries alive. The illustrations add to the appeal of the book and it is a good read for all those kids who love mysteries. The characters are interestingly portrayed and the concepts will not only encourage children to read, but will make them more imaginative and adventurous in their thinking and creativity.

~ Readers' Favorite

Read the full review

Click here to check out more about the books and read an excerpt from Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library along with Elly Skelly.

Halloween Classics

What happens when a flower has all the power? 
Find out in The Flower Monster

Consider me Cornerstone Owl. I may or may not care. Stay or don't, the choice is yours. I've a tale to tell. But only if the rain persists. It's the chill in the sweeping wind that stiffens the vine, that's the buzz around here. Listen. Creaking bones of bark and burrowing bug, more or less paper flesh, or so the story goes.

In a time of none, and a half turn of spin, by the throat of a running river, six twinkling loves gathered under the shadow light of the blood moon to tell fantastical stories to each other.... continue reading 

"I'm certain that you've met my good friend, Great Pumpkin. I know she's haunted Fairday's blog before. I'll let her talk you into whatever she has planned, but beware, she enjoys a good scare." 

"Ah, it's me great friend, Elly. La ti da. Nice ta see ya bones rattlin' around here. Ya know me, I like ta pop in an' take em' all on a trip to Halloween town. 'Tis a hoot ta visit with them monstrous neighbors of mine, so grab yer bag o' tricks and skip over fer a fright— if ya dare." 

Visit Halloween town with Great Pumpkin (read the comments:) 

"On the hunt for more spooky fun? Follow me into an enchanted forest."

About the artwork: the images in the short Eat Your Words were formed in a mad splash of matter under my home microscope. The bits of things involved in the photoshoot were; fish skin, mushroom, drop of blood. I call this style of art, Microscopic Modern Art.

Paintings are acrylic on wood canvas board. 

You can view more of Jess's artwork at