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Working remotely: 8 books that address the rewards and the challenges

This reads like the What to Expect When You’re Expecting of books about working remotely. Acknowledging some of the benefits of wfh (not getting out of your pjs until dinner), Wexler also warns that “there’s a fine line between sensei and senseless” and he offers practical advice for not crossing that line too often. This is a fun, philosophical guide to setting good work-at-home habits and making them stick.

 

A Jewish man wears a face mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus as he reads from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem’s Old City, on April 10, 2020.

What Jewish mysticism can teach us about the coronavirus

(RNS) — Jews are not unfamiliar with pain and suffering. We memorialize national calamity with holidays, rituals and remembrances, as we do today on Holocaust Remembrance Day. We have highly scripted rituals of mourning and remembrance. Even amid the joy of a wedding, the groom smashes a glass to recall the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem centuries ago. Most recently, the Holocaust forced us to confront a stark existential question: How can a supposedly benevolent G-d allow such a terrible thing to happen?

In the face of the global suffering inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with an eerily similar question.

Hulme and Wexler turn the intelligent design concept on its ear in their children’s book debut, a kickoff to The Seems series. The premise: everything that happens in our world, from falling in love to the weather to time itself, is controlled by The Seems—“the place on the other side of the World responsible for generating what you see outside your window right now.” Twelve-year-old Becker Drane lives a double life, secretly working for the Institute for Fixing & Repair; when something goes wrong in The Seems, “Fixers” put the cosmic cogs back in working order. Becker’s first mission as a Fixer is a doozy—find the glitch in the Department of Sleep that has turned everyone in the world into an insomniac. The authors use the conceit to the fullest, creating a complex and intricate world with a sometimes daunting array of gadgets, bureaucracy, vocabulary and capitalization (a glossary is included—and welcome). These details don’t become overwhelming, fortunately, thanks to the book’s consistently lighthearted tone (the Department of Sleep’s radio station, WDOZ, broadcasts tracks like “The Hum of the Air Conditioner [Remix]” into humans’ subconscious minds). The high sense of adventure and an abundance of goofball humor should appeal especially to boys. Ages 10-up.

Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Book Reviews

Newsday (New York)

BOOKENDS: CHILDREN’S BOOKS

“The Seems” is the rare fiction series that can be read purely for the adventure, or mulled over for its implied questions about big philosophical issues: Is reality what we see, or is there a reality behind all this? How do we know who holds power in the world? How do we know we’re doing the right thing?

Thirteen-year-old Becker Drane has secretly been recruited to work for The Seems, the world behind the world. It’s the workers of The Seems who develop and produce the weather, who package and ship dreams, who are responsible for the orderly progression of time, who run a thousand other pieces of reality that we in the visible world take for granted. Becker has the coolest job in The Seems: He’s a Fixer, the guy who’s sent in when something goes wrong that’s too big for an individual Seems department to correct. Fixers are to The Seems what extreme snowboarders are to sport, and Becker is the youngest Fixer ever.

In “The Glitch in Sleep,” insomnia threatens to derail the planet, while in “The Split Second,” an underground organization known as The Tide puts the world in peril with a bomb that can rend the fabric of time. Both threats turn out to have practical Seemsian solutions, which are effected through the use of fabulous tools like the Helping HandTM and other gadgets that make clever use of puns and plays on words. But underneath it all is the question: Why did Becker’s best friend go over to The Tide, and is Becker naive to support the Powers That Be?

BY SONJA BOLLE

THE SEEMS: THE GLITCH IN SLEEP by John Hulme and Michael Wexler introduce us to Becker Drane, a seemingly average 12-year-old with a wholly unaverage job: he gets to fix the World. As one of the youngest Fixers in a parallel world known as The Seems, Becker is responsible for repairing everyday problems that go wrong in the World as you and I know it. Faulty rainstorms, bad dreams… If something goes wonky, you can bet there’s a team in The Seems who’s on it to make things right again.

Having worked his way up in the ranks, Becker finds himself on his first Mission as a Fixer — and it’s a doozy. A Glitch, one of the worst types of problems to crop up, runs rampant in the Department of Sleep, keeping the World from catching any shut-eye. Despite his junior status, Becker throws himself into the Mission and soon finds himself with more trouble than he bargained for. A rash decision leads to his suspension, forcing Becker to try to redeem himself and (hopefully) determine how (or even if) this recent run of problems is linked to The Tide, a shady organization dedicated to undoing everything The Seems attempts to uphold.

With an imagination hopped up on a dozen cans of Red Bull, Hulme and Wexler take no prisoners in creating Becker’s unique world and its clockwork cousin, the realm of The Seems. Reminiscent of the works of Jonathan Stroud and Jasper Fforde, this book makes use of amusing footnotes, a jargon-laden glossary and a guide to the unique tools wielded by the Fixers in their day-to-day routine.

THE GLITCH IN SLEEP has the toughest job as the first book in the series: it needs to set up the world and make it believable and fun. The authors take that challenge and create an infinitely memorable environment that will set the stage for Becker’s further adventures. Although most every dilemma gets resolved by book’s end, we can only hope that future installments will add more dimension to the characters and provide details about the mysterious Tide.

For fans of adventure and imagination that barrel along at a breakneck pace, THE SEEMS: THE GLITCH IN SLEEP opens the door to the next book series you’ll become addicted to.

BY BRIAN FARREY

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