ENTERTAINMENT

Bookworm: ‘Bad Day Breaking’ – Galligan fans will appreciate the ending

Curious 7-to-11-year-olds will devour ‘Museum of Odd Body Leftovers’

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“Bad Day Breaking: A Bad Axe County Novel”

  • By John Galligan
  • c.2002, Simon & Schuster
  • $17, 326 pages

Not everybody has to like you. That’s a lesson you learned the hard way, probably in grade school. Try as you might, you were going to have enemies and detractors along the way and there wasn’t much you could do about it. Not everybody has to like you but, as in the new novel “Bad Day Breaking” by John Galligan, they aren’t allowed to kill you.

“Bad Day Breaking: A Bad Axe County Novel” by John Galligan.

Many years ago, Sheriff Heidi Kick was the kind of girl she’d arrest now.

Back then, she and her best friend, Missy, were into drugs, guns, and petty theft, they both dated Roman Vanderhoof. and the three of them partied constantly until things got out of hand. That was when “Mighty” Heidi went to the sheriff’s office and confessed to everything she knew about drugs and theft. Missy went to rehab, Hoof went to prison in Boscobel, and Heidi kicked her addictions, enrolled in college, got married, paid her dues, and became Sheriff of Bad Axe County, Wisconsin.

Now those days were in the rearview mirror and she hadn’t heard from Missy in a while.

Until she got a text the day before Thanksgiving.

“Want to drink ketchup?” it said, Missy’s code for getting drunk.

Despite that Heidi had been sober for years, her answer was “yes.”

It had been a long week already in Bad Axe County, and it would get even longer. One of her officers was using a department computer to email prisoners, and the courts wouldn’t let Heidi investigate. Another officer had assaulted the leader of a new religious group in town, and city council members were about to appoint her deputy sheriff.

And that religious community? Folks in Bad Axe didn’t want a cult around, although Heidi wasn’t sure the community qualified as a “cult.” The two groups were protesting across the road from one another, things were heating up, and allegations of abuse and animal cruelty floated around town.

“Bad Axe County” author John Galligan.

Then Sheriff Kick learned that Hoof was out of prison.

And she knew he wouldn’t stop unless he got his revenge...

You know that thing you do when you see something scary, so you put your hands over your eyes and peek between your fingers because you can’t not see? That’s exactly what you’ll want to do with “Bad Day Breaking.”

Long before its prologue is anywhere near done, this book turns dark and cold as the snowstorm that hits the background of the story. Slush and ice lay the ground, then, for everything that author John Galligan can pack into an unhappily-long holiday weekend, made more wretched by the kind of small-town embroilments that happen when everybody knows everybody else’s business. Add a headline-ripping current-events possibility and gun deer season in Wisconsin, and oh, yeah, you’ll want to see what happens.

Galligan fans will appreciate knowing that “Bad Day Breaking” contains an ending that’ll make you shriek and perch yourself at the bookstore to await the next Bad Axe County novel. As for this book, though, you just have to like it.

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“The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers: A Tour of Your Useless Parts, Flaws, and Other Weird Bits”

  • By Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Clayton Hanmer
  • c. 2022, Greystone Kids
  • $18.95 88 pages

You don’t need that. Ugh, it’s so frustrating when you ask someone for something and they just say “no” right away. Why didn’t they think about it first, or ask your intentions? What if you spend your own money or find that thing yourself? As a kid, you probably hear “you don’t need that” a lot but in the new book “The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers” by Rachel Poliquin, illustrations by Clayton Hanmer, some things really are so extra.

“The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers: A Tour of Your Useless Parts, Flaws, and Other Weird Bits” by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Clayton Hanmer.

Let’s face it: your body is a wonderful piece of machinery. It lets you run and play and write and read and do all kinds of fun things. But there are things inside you that are “useless... leftovers” and “bad patch jobs.” They’re called vestigial structures, and there was once a time when the human body did need those parts. Not anymore.

Take, for instance, your teeth.

Now, you need your teeth to chew and chomp and bite. You need them to smile. But you don’t need your wisdom teeth as much as your ancestors did and you don’t have room in your mouth for them anyhow. Besides, they can cause “big trouble,” which is why so many adults have a dentist remove them.

You are a mammal, just like your cat or dog is a mammal, but because your body isn’t covered in fur, you don’t need the muscles that make your hairs stand up to act as insulation and keep you warm. You need clothing instead, and not goosebumps.

Scientists say that we are closely related to monkeys and while we have some body parts in common, again, we humans have extra things. Monkeys and humans both have muscles that help to climb trees, swing from branches, walk on all fours – muscles that kept our ancestors alive. Monkeys still need these things. Humans – not so much.

Your feet and legs have evolved to walk upright. You have hair where it’s most beneficial for a human like you. Your gut has become a lean, mean digesting machine. And at one time in your life, you actually had a tail!

You might’ve noticed that kids are inherently collectors of this and that and the other. In “The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers,” they’ll see a collection they never even knew they had, and that nobody has to clean around.

Reading like a guided tour through a museum of curiosities, this book is fictional but based in actual science and its tone is serious but fun – which means that author Rachel Poliquin’s story and illustrations by Clayton Hanmer will teach a kid something effortlessly and on the sly. For easier reference, it’s segmented into different subjects; parents and kids will also be happy to know that this “museum” includes terms and words that are used in real laboratories.

Curious 7-to-11-year-olds will devour this book, and you might expect some excited “did you know?” conversations while your youngster is enjoying it. “The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers” is good and yeah, they need that.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.