Woody Guthrie was a “radical folk prophet from grassroots America,” “Shakespeare in overalls,” and “a national treasure.” He was also a hard-traveling, hard-living man, refusing to be held down or held back by family, work, or the expectations of others. He wrote over 1,000 songs, married three times, had eight children, wrote fiction, drew cartoons, and performed across the nation from the 1930s to the late ’40s, when drinking and disease began to take their toll. The glory of Woody Guthrie’s music and the popular image of the traveling man with a guitar slung over his shoulder will be balanced in the reader’s mind by the tragedy of his final years and the odd coincidence of fire throughout his life. In this attractively made volume, complete with photographs, lyrics, family tree, and cartoons, Woody Guthrie is honestly portrayed. A strong point is the final section on the persistence of poverty in the US and the current singer/songwriters who carry on the folk tradition. Brevity is occasionally a problem when the impression given by the author’s accounts doesn’t fully match the historical record. When Woody’s father Charley was burned by the kerosene in a lamp his mother, Nora, was carrying, this was apparently more intentional than the author indicates. And when Woody visited Nora in the asylum in Norman, Oklahoma, Neimark’s account is that Nora didn’t recognize him, but, in fact, Nora became lucid for a moment and said, “You’re Woodrow.” Such scenes are not always documented. These quibbles aside, this is a volume that ought to be included in any collection of good books about Woody Guthrie, including Elizabeth Partridge’s This Land Was Made for You and Me (p. 107), Bonnie Christensen’s Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (2001), and Kathy Jakobsen’s This Land Is Your Land (1998). (author’s note, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83369-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002


Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre.

Survival camp? How can you not have bad feelings about that?

Sixteen-year-old nerd (or geek, but not dork) Henry Lambert has no desire to go to Strongwoods Survival Camp. His father thinks it might help Henry man up and free him of some of his odd phobias. Randy, Henry’s best friend since kindergarten, is excited at the prospect of going thanks to the camp’s promotional YouTube video, so Henry relents. When they arrive at the shabby camp in the middle of nowhere and meet the possibly insane counselor (and only staff member), Max, Henry’s bad feelings multiply. Max tries to train his five campers with a combination of carrot and stick, but the boys are not athletes, let alone survivalists. When a trio of gangsters drops in on the camp Games to try to collect the debt owed by the owner, the boys suddenly have to put their skills to the test. Too bad they don’t have any—at all. Strand’s summer-camp farce is peopled with sarcastic losers who’re chatty and wry. It’s often funny, and the gags turn in unexpected directions and would do Saturday Night Live skits proud. However, the story’s flow is hampered by an unnecessary and completely unfunny frame that takes place during the premier of the movie the boys make of their experience. The repeated intrusions bring the narrative to a screeching halt.

Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014


Sixth-grader Troy White is a one-of-a-kind athlete with the ability to predict which plays any football team will run even before the ball is snapped. However, his mental talents don’t help him crack his youth-league team’s starting lineup (the coach plays his own son at quarterback). Troy dreams of pitching his talent to his beloved Atlanta Falcons, helping them post a winning season. Seemingly an after-school-special waiting to happen, and marked by cinematic writing, this feel-good story has a place in libraries fielding requests for clean and uplifting stories. Touching scenes of underdog Troy wishing he had a father to help him are contrasted with very realistic on-the-field football action, which is not surprising considering that the author is a former NFL player. Many actual players’ names are dropped throughout the story but some, like Randy Moss, may soon switch teams. More than a sports story, romance pops up as Troy nudges star Falcon linebacker Seth Halloway to date Troy’s mother. This light and fast-paced story will appeal to the tween crowd. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-112270-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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