Songwriting adman Backer (as in Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide) tells, in some detail, how he did it. What Backer did was spawn the Coca-Cola commercial that evolved into ``I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.'' His pride in his accomplishment is, unfortunately, unbounded. The author—sort of the Barry Manilow of ``the song-form commercial'' (don't call them ``jingles,'' please)—uses the story of the successful soft- drink campaign as a peg on which to hang a book full of bloated expostulation. With the pride that is emblematic of his trade, Backer offers some big talk about ``big ideas,'' the profane Grail of the knights of Madison Avenue. His theory is that original ideas require nurturing from ``families''—sponsoring uncles, aunts, and godparents—and powerful folk who can give the affirmative nod to new notions. Reasonably, he reminds us to separate ideas from their execution. But it's all inflated and never strays far from the author's singular creative accomplishment. (He simply wanted to sell the world some soda pop with ``I'd like to buy the world a Coke''—a real example of pop culture.) To be sure, it's not uniformly dull. The narrative picks up with a description of the Coke shoot, and a few bits of Ad-land gossip help to relieve the tedium. Curiously, Backer has a tin ear for the English language. He innovates with the odd inverted clichÇ (``far and few between'') or inattention (someone ``is yet'' to perform a task). A false self-helper in which the author helps himself to some congratulation. Persuasive texts in this genre are few and far between, indeed. (Illustrations—not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8129-1969-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993



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