Jukebooks: Get Happy by Mary Amato

Get HappyMinerva’s heart sank as she opened her mother’s gift to her for her sixteenth birthday. It was not shaped like a ukulele. It was not firm like a ukulele. Thus, by the time Minerva pulled out a blue sweater decorated with large white snowflakes, her hopes were already trampled. Not a ukulele at all.

So when Minerva marched in the music store to purchase the longed-for ukulele, it was a huge deal. The ukulele of her dreams was hers. Minerva began playing one of the few songs she knew, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” People on the street stopped to smile at her. Some began to sing along. Some began to dance.

Israel KamakawiwoÊ»ole, or “Iz,” was a skilled musician and a leader in the Independent Hawaii movement. His sweet rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on ukulele is irresistible. In 1997, KamakawiwoÊ»ole died of complications related to obesity.

The video clip below shows images of KamakawiwoÊ»ole floating over beautiful Hawaiian land and seascapes. At the very end, KamakawiwoÊ»ole’s ashes are scattered into the water.

Jukebooks: Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford

Brent Crawford is a very funny guy who writes the kind of YA novels that leave ninth graders howling with laughter. We’re talking humor that features boobs, dildos, diarrhea, and other verboten topics, all covered in Carter’s ADD-tinged stream of conscious narration. Hapless Carter seems an unlikely candidate to star in his high school production of Guys and Dollsand yet there he is; forgetting dance steps, zoning out on his lines, and gawking at the Hot Box Girls. The crazy thing is, Carter’s trying to pull off this whole “starring in a musical” gig without letting his guys find out. And he’s kind of in love with his leading lady. Hilarity ensues.

Carter’s big number in the musical is Luck Be A Lady. In MGM’s 1955 film version of Guys and Dolls, Marlon Brando sings this song. Didn’t know Brando could sing? Well, the clip below will not convince anyone otherwise. You will spot a young Frank Sinatra in the background; his version of Luck Be A Lady is an all-out croon. To be thorough, both versions are offered below.

If you’re hooked on Carter, don’t miss Carter’s Big Break  and Carter’s Unfocused, One-Track Mind.

And now, Frank Sinatra!

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh (advance readers copy)