THE READING PROMISE

MY FATHER AND THE BOOKS WE SHARED

Reading really was fundamental for a father and daughter team who made it their nightly ritual for eight straight years.

The author’s name—an amalgam of characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s Oz series—illustrates her profound passion for reading bookshelves of literature from childhood to well into adolescence. In 1997, plucky, headstrong Ozma and her father, an elementary-school librarian, began reading aloud to each other for 1,000 consecutive nights. Dubbed “The Streak,” it began when the author was in third grade and lasted 3,218 nights. Ozma’s father, a firm believer in the limitless power of books, was overjoyed (and pleasantly surprised) when they’d achieved their initial goal of 100 nights. But then Ozma determinedly upped the ante to 1,000 as their readings graduated from James and the Giant Peach to Shakespeare and Harry Potter. There were stringent “rules” to follow: They had to read for at least 10 minutes, before midnight, preferably in person, and books only—though “anything from magazines to baseball programs would do” in a pinch. Those days, Ozma fondly recalls, incorporated a playful and deeply unifying pastime shared with a man who became not only an interactive parent and friend, but a shoulder to lean on when inconvenience and calamity impeded their endeavors. But nothing could stop them—not the funeral in honor of her pet fish, nor her Dad’s laryngitis, nor the painful, physical separation of her mother, who moved out, nor her older sister’s absence as a foreign-exchange student. While all were painful memories that Ozma evokes with a hushed despondence, “The Streak” continued unabated until the author moved away to college, majoring in English, almost nine years later.    A warm memoir and a gentle nudge to parents about the importance of books, quality time and reading to children.

 

Pub Date: May 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-446-58377-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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