An appealingly shoestring odyssey chronicled with engaging, ever-ready curiosity.

Newcomer Alaskan Romano-Lax heads south to Mexican waters, charting the changes 62 years after Steinbeck's famous travels by shrimp seiner.

Just before he got his Pulitzer for The Grapes of Wrath, the author and his biologist friend Ed Ricketts spent weeks collecting sea creatures and impressions, getting drunk, and more: “We search for something that will seem like truth to us; we search for understanding; we search for that principle which keys us deeply into the pattern of all life,” Steinbeck wrote in The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Romano-Lax, accompanied by her husband and two children, is on something of the same quest in her own fashion; she seeks not for the keys to the universe but for understanding of what is happening to the Sea of Cortez, all but written off for dead by many environmentalists and journalists. She wonders if the creatures Steinbeck and Ricketts catalogued are still in evidence and, if so, in what abundance. In fact, she finds many of them, sometimes in great profusion; to her way of thinking, this indicates a population in flux, an opinion buttressed by her talks with local fishermen, who speak of the ups and downs of catches. These detailed observations come wrapped in the entertaining story of the family’s voyage, which begins on a too-small boat in the company of her brother-in-law, Mr. Mood Swing, and continues in its second half as a combined road-kayak venture, with towns and harbors both getting good descriptions. Romano-Lax is a sharp delineator, whether seeing the water's surface as turquoise-tinted mercury or musing on Steinbeck's musings: “They were just fishing: putting out a long line into the dreamy current, to see what might bite.” The environmental picture of the Sea of Cortez is nowhere near complete, but her trip adds substantial strokes to the portrait.

An appealingly shoestring odyssey chronicled with engaging, ever-ready curiosity.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-57061-255-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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