Item description for Boo Hiss (Boo #3) by Rene Gutteridge...
Overview When a soccer complex springs to life seemingly overnight, and the local coffee shop begins offering computer access along with its suddenly overpriced beverages, goosebumps start popping up all over town in this tale of the various ways people respond to change and growth.
Publishers Description When a soccer field complex springs to life seemingly overnight in the sleepy community of Skary, Indiana, and the local coffee shop begins offering computer access along with its suddenly overpriced beverages, goosebumps start popping up all over town. Has soccer mom Katelyn Downey hatched a diabolic plot to turn their slow-paced town into a den of hip suburban iniquity–or is this the perfect solution to the community's financial woes?
Even as concerned residents take sides over their town's future, many are dealing with changes of a more personal nature. Novelist Wolfe Boone can't seem to find the right niche for his post—horror writing efforts, and his new bride Ainsley–known for executing complicated events with penache and perfection–is bewildered by her inability to control something as seemingly simple as scheduling a pregnancy. Frustration turns to envy when her wacky friend Melb discovers, to her utter terror, that she and husband Oliver are expecting a baby.
Through its quirky characters and winsome humor, Boo Hiss offers unexpected insights into the various ways people respond to change and demonstrates that growth often occurs amid the most difficult–and hilarious–circumstances. Rene Gutteridge is the author of five novels, including Boo, Boo Who, Ghost Writer and Troubled Waters. Trained as a screenwriter, she also has been published extensively as a playwright. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University and served as director of drama for First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City for five years. Now a full-time writer, Rene lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.
1. Whose side were you on, those who wanted Skary to join the modern world, or those who wanted to keep it the way it was?
2. What were Katelyn's motivations for changing the town of Skary? Could you relate to Katelyn? Why?
3. Melb and Ainsley have become friends, but suddenly their friendship is tested when both of them are forced to deal with the other's quirks on an ongoing basis. Have you ever struggled with tolerating someone you love when you have to be around them more than usual? How did you cope? What helped you through? What would you do differently next time?
4. Ainsley is trying to schedule a pregnancy. Do you believe we are obsessed in our culture with schedules, or do you think it simply helps us be more productive?
5. If you could live in your town or Skary, Indiana, which would you choose? Why?
6. What does the two-headed snake represent in the story? What in your life acts like a two-headed snake? You marriage, your job, a relationship...?
7. Ainsley is immediately intimidated by Katelyn, even though Ainsley has seemed to have plenty of self-confidence. Why do you think women, in particular, feel the need to compete?
8. Who was your favorite character and why?
9. How did you feel about Martin's resolution?
10. If you could be any character in the book, who would you choose and why?
11. If you could write a Boo book, what would it be about and which character would be your main focus?
Chapter 1 “ALL RIGHT FOLKS, let's calm down.” Mayor Wullisworth looked like he was patting the air as he tried to get everybody to sit down in the crowded community center. Martin Blarty stood a few feet away, attempting to take a pulse on why this crowd was so agitated.
It was a soccer field, for pete's sake. Sure, it was a little mysterious, but it wasn't like it was a crop circle or anything. And they'd had their share of those, until 1984, when a farmer named Bill Dunn had confessed to the prank, though he claimed he'd been possessed by alien serum when he'd done it. Rumors flew when Bill disappeared one night, leaving an empty farmhouse and all his belongings behind.
Turned out he was in Vegas, but it did make for some good headlines for a while.
“Where did it come from?” The woman's desperate and dramatic voice hushed the crowd and everyone looked at the mayor.
Martin bit his lip. The mayor was known for his inability to mock concern or compassion, especially for those he called EGRs, or Extra Grace Required. Martin had dealt with the town's EGRs for years, decades, and sometimes even generations. Martin's attempt to coach the mayor on how to respond to questions that lacked sensibility had finally taught him that it was really the mayor who lacked sensibility, so Martin just let it drop.
“Well,” the mayor began, “we've just learned that the government has a top secret military plan to take over the country via soccer fields.”
Martin slid up next to the mayor and turned the mike away from him. “What the mayor is trying to say is that though we don't know why this soccer field has seemingly popped up in Skary overnight, we're sure there is a reasonable explanation for it.”
“What could be a reasonable explanation?” a man asked. “We don't even have a soccer team.”
True. “Listen, we're going to find out why the soccer field is there, folks. It may just take some time. But rest assured, it's nothing to panic about.”
He could remember one other occasion when the town got up in arms like this, when they decided to change a street name. A century ago, someone had mistakenly named two streets in Skary Maple Street. One was on the west end, one on the east. It never confused the residents of Skary because what you were talking about determined which Maple Street you meant. You never used West Maple if you were going to the grocery store. You never used East Maple if you needed your car repaired.
But back when they were a tourist town, some tourists would get confused. One man ranted, “This is worse than Atlanta and their Peachtree Street fiasco!” The man was also irritated that they didn't give tours of Wolfe Boone's home, so Martin had disregarded it as misplaced anger. But, he decided, there was no reason why they couldn't give one of the Maple streets a new name.
No reason at all, except for the fact that the town nearly rioted over it, and nobody who lived near one of the Maple streets wanted it changed. So the two Maple streets remained, and everyone was happy.
“It came overnight,” Mr. Runderfeld said with a grunt, clacking his cane against the floor. “I drove by there the day before, and that soccer field wasn't there. The next morning, it was. You got a fancy explanation for that?”
Martin stepped on the mayor's foot, a sign he would be doing the rest of the answering. “I'm sure there is a good explanation, Mr. Runderfeld. Maybe the person who owns the land wanted a soccer field.”
“Who owns the land?” someone shouted.
“I'll look that up in the records, and we'll figure this out. But folks, let's just rest assured that there is nothing strange going on, all right? It's true we've never had a soccer complex or anything close to it in our town before, but there's no reason for alarm. Now if a nuclear testing site popped up overnight, that would be cause for alarm.” Nobody else was laughing, and Martin's chuckle faded. “Anyway, I'm sure there's other business to address here today.” He looked into the crowd. “Anybody have any other concerns?”
Silent glaring answered. Then, at the back of the room, he saw someone raise a hand. “Yes?”
A teenaged boy with curly, greasy, unkempt hair mumbled something that nobody could understand.
“Could you speak up, please?” Martin asked.
The kid nodded, but went back to mumbling, this time adding gestures.
Martin waved him up front. “Why don't you step behind the microphone so we can all hear you?”
With a slump worthy of osteoporosis, the kid padded his way up to the front of the room. Half an eye was showing when he faced the crowd. Martin recognized him as the kid that worked at the bookstore.
“Hey,” the kid said like he was waving to his surfer buddies. A couple of toastmaster sessions might do him some good. “I'm Dustin, and I've lost my pet.”
“Great!” Martin enthused. This was exactly the kind of thing community meetings were meant for, and a perfect distraction for the crowd, as the citizens of Skary were always suckers for lost pets. “Why don't you tell us about your pet. Give us a description, and I'm sure somebody will be able to help.”
“Well, it's sort of brown and black, I guess. A little yellow mixed in. With black eyes.” Martin glanced at the crowd. By the “oohs” and “aahs,” he could tell they were already starting to forget about the soccer field.
“What kind of breed is it, young lad?” Mr. Runderfeld asked.
Dustin's sulky face lit up with pride. He scooted his hair out of his eyes. “It's a rosy!”
“Is that a kind of Chihuahua?” someone asked.
“Boa,” Dustin said.
The room was so quiet, Martin could hear the water heater hissing behind the wall. “Dustin, I'm sorry. I think there's some confusion here.
Are you saying you lost a…a…”
Someone screamed in the back of the room.
Dustin looked surprised. “Oh, please, don't be afraid. Boa constrictors are not dangerous.”
Martin needed to get this situation under control quickly. He stretched a grin across his face and said, “Well, Dustin, we'd be more than happy to help you find your pet. What is your cute little pet's name?”
“Bob. Okay. Bob.”
“Well, it's kind of confusing. You can call him Bob, and that's totally fine. But Bob is kind of special.”
Martin could hardly find the words to ask what made Bob the snake special, but he managed a weak, “Why?”
“Well, Bob has two heads.”
Martin felt himself grow pale along with the three already pasty looking old ladies sitting on the front row, but he kept the grin tight on his face. “Two heads?”
“Yeah. He's a two-headed snake. A bicephalic. Pretty rare, actually. See, Bob is the more dominant of the twins. His brother's name is Fred.” “Bob…and Fred.”
“Yeah. They're like Siamese twins. They share a body, and have separate necks, and two separate heads. I've had them since they were babies.”
A trickle of sweat rolling down Martin's temple beckoned a subject change back to the soccer field. He looked out at the startled crowd. A woman on the third row had fainted.
“Okay,” Martin said in a shaky voice, “so what we've got here is a lost snake…snakes, I mean…well, one snake, two heads…anyway, a snake that goes by the names Bob and Fred. A harmless snake, I might add, right, Dustin?”
“Yeah. Totally harmless.”
“So, Dustin, I guess we should probably be…aware…when we take out the trash or move some brush, as that is probably where it's going to turn up, right?”
“Well, you would think. But actually, Bob and Fred are really domesticated. Spoiled, if you ask me.” He snickered.
“What does that mean?”
“Well, you're not going to find Bob and Fred out and about like other snakes, under a rock or something. They've gotten used to being inside, and they especially like carpet and things like comforters and pillows. I'm sure they're going to turn up soon because they can't stand to be outside much. The only tough thing is that they're probably only going to appear at night because they're nocturnal.”
Martin could actually hear someone crying. Dustin was completely oblivious. He addressed the crowd, suddenly very comfortable with the mike.
“And listen, if you do find Bob and Fred, they're probably going to be very hungry. They really have very healthy appetites. So if you can't get ahold of me, I'd go ahead and feed them. Any sort of rodent is fine. They're not into gourmet mice or anything.” Dustin was amusing the daylights out of himself with his jokes. “Anyway, please, please, if you feed them, follow my instructions very carefully.”
The room grew still. Dustin relished the attention.
“When you feed them, you must place a piece of cardboard or something between them while they're eating. Bob is the much more dominant of the two, and if you don't put something between them when they eat, Bob ends up swallowing Fred's head, and let me tell you, that is a nightmare to fix.”
Martin dismissed Dustin with a feeble thank you as he ushered him off the stage. There was no use trying to get everyone under control.
Martin turned to find the mayor. Mayor Wullisworth would surely be able to come up with some creative idea. But when he looked at him, the mayor's eyes were wide, and his mouth was gaping open. The fact that he was pulling at strands of his own hair wasn't helping Martin's confidence. “Mayor! Are you okay?”
“I-I-I hate snakes. I hate them. I hate them,” he whispered.
Martin pulled the mayor out the back door and into the cold outside. Under enormous stress, Martin had found out, the mayor had a tendency to want to go tropical on him.
“Sir,” Martin said, grasping his arm. “Sir, get ahold of yourself.”
The mayor looked around his ankles, then at Martin. “What are you going to do?”
“You're the mayor, sir. I thought you might have some ideas.”
“Let's pull up the protocol for evacuating the town.”
Martin directed the mayor to his car. “Why don't you let me handle this? This is no big deal. I'm sure by the end of the day, we will have found this cute and, um, unique little critter.”
“Critters have fur. This is a bloodsucking, slimy reptile.”
“Reptiles aren't actually slimy.”
“Handle this, Martin. And quickly.” The mayor ducked into his car and drove off. Martin turned to find an ambulance loading an elderly woman inside.
Katelyn Downey watched out the back window as her son Willem threw the baseball to her husband, Michael. Ever the athlete, Michael caught it and pitched it back while cradling his cell phone between his shoulder and chin. He glanced at the window and gave Katelyn a short wave.
She went to the kitchen and pulled out casserole number seven. She was going to miss all those cooking days with the neighborhood ladies. It was a day well spent making large batches of casseroles, then dividing them and taking them home to freeze. On the days that soccer games, Spanish class, T-ball practice, or gymnastics meets ran late, she could just pull out a casserole and add a packaged salad.
Out the kitchen window, she saw Annette across the street edging her yard for the fourth time this month. Once, Willem had kicked his soccer ball across the street and into her grass. After he retrieved the ball, she witnessed Annette walk out and actually comb the blades of grass back into place. She painted her window shutters yearly, hid all her garden hoses after each use, measured the height of her bushes with a yardstick, and actually parked her car in the garage.
Katelyn was going to miss this dreamy street with the white picket fences, but she had a higher calling. And Annette's web wasn't long enough to reach where she was going.
Rubbing her hands raw at the kitchen sink, she didn't flinch when Annette looked up and into the kitchen window that perfectly framed Katelyn's scowl. With her designer gardening gloves, Annette's fingers rolled a wave in the air like she was strumming a harp. Her radioactive teeth glowed against her sunless tan.
Katelyn waved back. Annette's two twin girls, Madee and Megynn, provided a thorn for each of her sides. She'd been deceived by their yellow ringlet hair and saucerlike eyes. They'd been playing soccer since they were two and could run circles around Willem and all the other boys on the team. They also had a knack for snotty one-liners that evoked visions of plotting their curls' demise with a pair of safety scissors. They only had coed teams until eight. Three more years of this kind of torture and little Willem might go into the arts.
Which would be fine with Katelyn, except she'd never hear the end of it from Michael. The back door opened, and Willem trotted in, dusty and sweaty, his cheeks flushed and red. “Hi baby!”
He hugged her and ran upstairs after a toy car. Michael came in, shut his cell phone, and said, “It's official. The loan went through, and we can break ground on our dream house!” He stretched his arms out toward her, but Katelyn whirled around and grabbed the For Sale sign that was propped against the wall by the front door. She took a hammer from the kitchen and marched outside and down the front steps.
Annette had her back turned as she rolled the edger along the sidewalk. That was fine. Katelyn was willing to wait. She stood there for five yards worth of sod. As Annette turned the edger off, Katelyn banged her hammer on the top edge of the sign, driving one leg into the patchy ground beneath it.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Annette crossing the street, blotting her brow with her designer garden gloves. This was going to be fun.
“Katelyn?” Annette said in her practiced anchorwoman voice.
Katelyn let the hammer fall one more time before turning and greeting Annette with her own version of a smile. “Hello there, Annette.” Katelyn stepped aside just enough so she could see the sign.
But Annette's attention went elsewhere as she said, “This grass! I still don't understand why it won't grow!” She began shaking her head and staring at the dirt that showed between the measly blades that made up their front yard. “It reminds me of my mother-in-law's hair before she started Rogaine.” She looked at Katelyn. “And I've seen Michael out here fertilizing it to death. It must be these sweet gum trees. The shade is nice in the summer, but no good for a vital lawn.”
Katelyn turned and hammered in the other side of the sign, with enough force that one slam pounded it straight into the ground.
“Oh.” Annette scowled at the sign like it was a knockoff designer handbag. “You're moving.” “Yes,” Katelyn said and, after a precise and practiced pause, added,
Annette's eyebrows shot to the top of her forehead, but Katelyn kept her smile steady. “We're building” needed no further explanation. In those two small words, it was pretty much implied that your husband was making more money, you were planning on expanding your family, and you'd outgrown the current suburban perks that your particular neighborhood had to offer. “Well,” said Annette, quickly recovering her facial expression, “how interesting. So Michael's real-estate business must be going well.” Her eyebrows gently floated down to their proper position.
“Tudor. Three thousand square feet. With a bay window.”
The superiority literally melted off Annette's face. She rubbed each cheek, stared at the sign, stiffened her back, and pulled her hat down a notch. “We will certainly be missing little Willem on our soccer team.”
“Where we're going, there's soccer, a spa, a charming little coffee shop, and a great church with an up-and-coming children's ministry.”
A smile sprang and retreated from Annette's berry colored lips. “And where would this perfect piece of paradise be?”
This was going to be the tricky part. And it was all in the delivery.
Annette's eyelids lowered halfway over her eyes. “Skary? Isn't that the little town that all the hoopla was about?”
“Hoopla?” Katelyn asked innocently.
“That famous horror writer lives there, and I hear they've got the most horrendous shops and restaurants. It's like a den for the devil!”
Katelyn paused, smiled, then said, “He no longer writes horror, and the town is no longer a tourist town. It's actually quite lovely, quaint even. Like something you would see in a painting.”
Annette didn't look convinced. So Katelyn added, “And as the city spreads, Skary will soon become a suburb, and the real estate will skyrocket. Luckily for me, I'm married to a man with a great sense of vision. He can look into the future and see what's going to be hot.” This was a particularly stabbing line, since Annette's husband was a history professor.
Annette scratched her ear. “I guess it will take some time to getting used to a name like Skary.”
“It makes it that much more charming. Irony is in, you know.”
Indeed, it had taken her time to get used to the name too. But when she saw the potential of this town, and all it would eventually offer herself and her family, Katelyn decided a weird name would soon fade into oblivion. And there was always the chance it could be changed.
Annette, never one to be obvious, stretched an eager grin across her face that smothered any hint of jealousy. “I'm happy for you, Katelyn. I know you and Michael and little Willem will do well.”
“Thank you, Annette. I'll miss our neighborly talks, but we're very excited.”
Annette nodded and then walked back over to her side of the street, which probably didn't seem so worthy of such outrageous landscaping efforts.
Katelyn secured the sign and went back inside. Michael was standing by the kitchen sink. “You have the most self-satisfied grin on your face,” he said.
She shrugged and turned on the oven. “It was just a friendly chat.”
“Right,” Michael said. He leaned against the sink and crossed his arms. “Katelyn, are you sure this is what you want? Because once we break ground, there's no turning back.”
“The more time I spend in Skary, the more I like it.”
“Why is that?”
“Because so far, my ideas have been easily sold for a few crisp, green dollar bills.”
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Studio: WaterBrook Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.14" Width: 5.54" Height: 1.01" Weight: 0.69 lbs.
Release Date Sep 20, 2005
Publisher WaterBrook Press
Series Number 3
ISBN 1400071437 ISBN13 9781400071432
Availability 0 units.
More About Rene Gutteridge
Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels including Ghost Writer, the Boo series, and the Occupational Hazard novels. She is a published playwright with a degree in screenwriting and a decade of experience writing, directing, and publishing church comedy sketches. Rene is married to Sean, a musician, and is the mother of two. She is a fulltime novelist who lives and writes in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Rene Gutteridge currently resides in the state of Oklahoma.
Some of my friends said they didn't like this one as much as the first two, so my expectations were low. But to my surprise, I liked this one much better than Boo Who. I laughed a lot more out loud while reading this and found the snake situation amusing. Another reason for liking this book was the humor poked at the book publishing industry, secular vs. Christian.
There was less Ainsley & Wolfe and more about the other town characters. A few things were wrapped up that had been hanging since the first book; the pastor finding his niche, Melb becoming responsible, Ainsley's dad's realtionships, the town's survival, etc. But of course a few things were left open and probably enough to write another book.
This is a great book to read when you want something light, funny and quirky. There is also a Christian message, but it's not overly stated or preachy. It's how people live out their lives in spite of their crazy circumstances!
Hmm... a snake and the end of Skary... BOO HISS sums it up pretty well! Sep 27, 2006
OK OK! I admit, I did enjoy this final installment of what started out as simply, "BOO". I just hate to see something so good like this end so quickly. Being a fan of this, I really had a problem with seeing so little of my favorite character... Thief! In the first 2 books, Thief always cracked me up. I saw more of Goose and Bunny than I did of my favorite cat. Hey, I'm sorry, but he absolutely made me HOWL, and my name really IS Wolfe, so that's saying something, amen?! In this one, you get a glimpse of him, and then his name comes up once or twice. Oh well. This was STILL worth the time well spent.
So what's going on in Skary this time? New lady, with possible new plans for the church? Melb gets pregnant and Ainsley doesn't. And on top of that, there is a 2 headed snake on the loose, and a 19 year old boy wants him back. And what's up with the Sheriff? The sucker's in LOVE!!! But somebody else is in love too, and Sheriff Parker is gonna have himself some competition. And what're Wolfe and Butch up to these days? You'll have to find that one out yourself.
I figured that with all that stuff going on, that this would have made a grand finale. But at times it got silly enough to the point that it resembled a soap opera. It got on my nerves a couple of times, but it was still acceptable. Ok, it was a good read! But still love my Skary, and I still say BOO HISS to an ending like this. It just gives me an excuse to find more by Rene Gutteridge and find her other talent!
Whimsical town of Skary, Indiana is back for more fun! Aug 2, 2006
Boo Hiss by Rene Gutteridge appears to be the last book in the series, but what a ride it's been! Dustin, the bookstore nerd, has lost his rare two-headed rosy boa constrictor, and the town of Skary, Indiana is turned on its ear during the search. This series is so full of whimsy and eccentric characters, it's almost guaranteed to bring a smile on each page. While Wolfe and Ainsley are each struggling with their own troubles, they, and the rest of the town, come to realize that God is in control, and sometimes you just need to let go. I did miss Missy in this book. There was a spark that she brought to the books that was missing a little in this one. Gutteridge is a terrific writer of humor, and I hope that she writes more of it in the future.
COME BACK TO SKARY! Nov 16, 2005
Run straight to the bookshelf and pick up this book. (And if you haven't read its cousins be sure to read BOO and BOO WHO.) You will be delighted with the fun small time eccentricities and the charming humor that Ms. Gutteridge brings to this small town. A must for your fall reading list!
Humorous, whimsical, and imaginative Sep 30, 2005
Get ready to chuckle --- a lot --- as Rene Gutteridge spins her tongue-firmly-in-cheek, humorous tale of small town life in BOO HISS, her third book in an informal series.
In BOO, Gutteridge introduced us to the quirky town of Skary, Indiana. The small town's economic life revolves around famous bestselling horror novelist Wolfe Boone --- or "Boo" --- from the Haunted Mansion restaurant to Spooky's Bookstore. When Wolfe becomes a Christian and chooses to quit writing horror novels, his decision turns the town upside down. In BOO HOO, the little town of Skary is on the edge of bankruptcy, Wolfe has become a car salesman, and his fiancýe, Ainsley Parker, is on track to become the next Martha Stewart.
If you haven't read Gutteridge's earlier works, put this book down and read them in order. Although it's not impossible to read this as a stand-alone novel, you'll enjoy it more with some background.
Now, the town has gone "from famous to obscure to a magnet for all things suburban." BOO HISS picks up the story as a two-headed rosy boa named Bob and Fred is on the loose in Skary. (Just for you skeptics, two-headed snakes are possible, though a rarity). The characters juggle other problems. Wolfe is struggling with writer's block. Ainsley longs to have a baby but nothing is happening, and her carefully ordered life is thrown out of kilter when Melb gets pregnant, and Melb and Oliver (improbably) take up temporary residence with Wolfe and Ainsley.
Just-arrived suburban soccer mom extraordinaire Katelyn Downey (mother of the devilish imp, five-year-old Willem) are determined to turn the little town of Skary into the Next Big Thing. A new cell phone tower, soccer field, coffeehouse complete with lattes and frou frou drinks, and some major changes at the church are only a few of the items on her agenda. The gentle Reverend Peck is spinning over all the changes Katelyn brings to his church, and wonders if the new cappuccino bar will be more of an attraction than his sermons. Will Skary lose its small-town values?
Romance is also in the air in the most unlikely places. Martin Blarty (short and contemplating hair implants) and Ainsley's dad, Sheriff Bart Parker (tall and clueless about women), are both attracted to Lois, The Queen of Menopause ("Eccentricity can be attractive, especially when it comes with hot flashes"). Lois has launched a town play and, in the process of casting, finds herself dating both men. As she ponders their flaws, she muses, "As a mature woman, your standards haven't slipped, they've just deepened to include Volvos instead of Covettes." Lois's sleepwalking leads to an unexpected engagement --- and more trouble --- and the play turns into a reality show.
When the strangely named Leonard Tarffeski, a charming snake hunter from New Zealand (where there are no snakes) appears to save the day --- or capture and sell the unusual snake for financial gain --- things quickly disintegrate.
Writers will enjoy some of the lines tossed at Wolfe (his father-in-law says in one aside, "It's not like you work or anything..."). Christian publishing industry folks will also snicker at the subplot involving Wolfe's editor/agent Alfred Tennison's discovery of the "Christian fiction" and his attempts to blend in --- and cash in.
If you're looking for a serious literary read to analyze for character development and plot treatment, look elsewhere. To enjoy this book, you'll have to suspend your disbelief from the earliest pages. However, if you want a book that's pure fun, BOO HISS is it. Relax and enjoy the pure whimsicalness of Gutteridge's imagination.