Wilson (Jesus, 1992, etc.) turns his attention and considerable wit to the crisis of Britain's Royal Family—elevating the tabloid debate about Diana and Charles and the rest of the clan so that we see them as players in the possible collapse of the monarchy itself. When the queen was in her teens, Wilson says, ``it was decided that she should be instructed in the mysteries of the British constitution, and she was sent off to Sir Henry Marten, the Vice- Provost of Eton....'' Marten munched sugar cubes and taught Elizabeth II the ideas of the Victorian editor Walter Bagehot—who, Wilson explains, believed that ``the function of a constitutional monarch was to warn, to encourage, and to advise.'' It was Bagehot who also created the idea that the monarch was to exemplify Christian family life. Wilson contends that Elizabeth personifies this Victorian ideal: It's Prince Charles who's the problem. Not only is he—judging from his marital lapses—no moral pillar, but he is, claims Wilson, a pompous ninny (``He knows little and retains little of what he is told. Like many second-rate minds, he is fond of posturing and attitudinizing''), so blind to his responsibilities that—in a speech, in an apparent effort to seem original—he nearly scotched the crucial General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations of 1992 by disagreeing with his government's position. Wilson concludes that all of Elizabeth's heirs are hopeless; but, finding value in the monarchy itself, he proposes that the Windsors step aside in favor of a new line of monarchs to be headed by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the quietly intelligent heir of King George V—an event that, Wilson admits, is unlikely to occur. A thinking person's irreverent, entertaining, and knowledgeable guide to the monarchy.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03607-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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



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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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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