C is for cheeky and clever; a work that all ages can enjoy.

ROADKILL ABC

A debut alphabet book collects photographs of things that haven’t survived the perils of the road.

Though roadkill will likely make most readers cringe, the majority of what appears in this tongue-in-check volume are nontraditional victims. For example, A is for Arm, which is merely the limb from a baby doll lying atop the ground. Similarly, both the Bear and the Lion are of the plush variety. McPherson often tinkers with the notion of roadkill, which isn’t always on or near a street. A broken Tree planter sits among vehicles in a parking lot; a Fly seems to be the victim of a license plate; and a train has apparently left a car in ruins (in this case, X is for railroad crossing). This playfulness carries over to the ABCs as well: Both Coyote and Knight (a plastic toy) are listed under their phonetic spellings (K is for \ki-’o-te\; N is for \’nit\). While the photos occasionally show animals (including the coyote), there is no sign of viscera and hardly any blood. The creatures, like so many things in the book, simply look forlorn. A largely intact and lonely Jack-o’-lantern, for instance, rests in a vacant field; a seemingly empty modular Home has fallen by the side of a road; and a solitary Glove is stuck on a fence. The photos throughout are bright, sharp, and filled with details. (The railroad-crossing shot is by Miille; the rest are by McPherson.) One of the standouts is a Mattress that’s torn with its springs exposed, as if a driver dumped it without even slowing down. But there’s much more to the photo: The Mattress is next to pieces of trash and on a mostly desolate stretch of road save for the ambulance that’s clearly passed it by. In other striking pictures, road signs unfortunately haven’t been very helpful, from the railroad crossing to the stop-ahead one that offered no assistance to what’s now lying in the street.

C is for cheeky and clever; a work that all ages can enjoy.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984553-21-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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