Book 9: The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, by Barbara O'Connor, Frances Foster Books 2009. Upper elementary to middle school.
After I put the baby to bed, I jump on the computer and check my email and catch up on the blogs I follow. One of those blogs is Barbara O'Connor's Greetings From Nowhere. Barbara is witty, funny, clever, quirky and oh-so-human (see her Cafe Francais saga), so it is no wonder she can breathe life into witty, funny, clever, quirky and oh-so-human characters.
In "Small Adventure", Velma recites the kings and queens of England in chronological order. As someone who just crossed the 40-year mark and is a new mom, as I read this part of the book I was thinking this is a great way to keep one's mind sharp. Then I read Popeye's reaction. And it's perfect. And not terribly complimentary. Not only can Barbara O'Connor create characters so real that you think you know them, she can draw you so entirely into a book that you forget it is just a story.
By the time I hit the Yoo-hoo boats, there was no retreating. No way I was putting this book down until I met everyone and I found out how this story ended. So go out and buy this book. It's a short story and a fast read and not a single word is wasted. And you'll enjoy re-visiting it for years to come.