A Bag of Tricks: Short Stories and Poems
by Peter Leibert
Author’s Tranquility Press

"I could probably be considered a classic case of ADD."

Readers discover charming stories and verses bearing a distinctive, observant voice in this book. Strong narratives and memorable characters carry readers through a variety of places. They also meet memorable animals like “The Cat,” with its quirky ideas about cats and what they contribute to their owners’ lives. Other poems like “Sugar Maple” wax nostalgic and bear a sense of longing. Stories like “Miss Covington” share a tender memory about the joys of missing too many dance classes. At its conclusion, readers meet the author, who gives a humorous, sentimental account of marriage and the word “devotion.”

This book offers something for everyone. Poetry lovers will find a variety of playful verses that take a humorous look at the world. One of the most playful poems is “The Singular Marriage.” It opens with the lines, “I decided one day in early May / to marry myself in a singular way.” Internal and end rhymes add even more humor to the poem, and lines like “I would be me and me would be mine” are playful tongue twisters. Other poems like “Duck and Drake” also rely on rhymes to portray summer’s simplicity where “the blue truck flies / across dirt roads, beneath gray skies.” “The Beaver Lady” is an homage to an often misunderstood creature. It cleverly portrays a maternal side of the beaver that many often overlook: “She nurses her young in a hut made of wood.” The poem also reminds readers that each creature is important in nature.

For those readers looking for some great storytelling, the short stories in this collection won’t leave them disappointed. The short stories also rely on memory and nostalgia. They are written in a manner that makes readers feel like they are sitting with an old friend for a bit of storytelling. “Frank” is a story about a “mad as a hatter” father-in-law who possesses the “energy of a gibbon gone wild.” This story is about the first time the narrator meets Frank. The narrator reminisces about the time the two embarked on a beer-making adventure, which resulted in a brew of seventeen percent alcohol. The story is heartfelt and kind, encouraging readers to look past someone’s flaws and see the good they bring to the world.

Another attribute of this book is that it is ideal for readers of all ages and is family-friendly. It is an engaging way to introduce young readers to simpler days gone by. The stories take a unique look at how places and relationships ultimately shape a person throughout one’s lifetime. The poems offer glimmers of hope and heartfelt insights about the small moments in life which may seem insignificant at one moment but ultimately have the power to leave an impression on a person that lasts a lifetime. Many of the poems will leave readers smiling, and many of the stories hold laugh-out-loud moments. This book is truly a conversation opener that will have readers talking about the stories and poems in its pages and the memorable times from their own experiences.

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