Everything you always wanted to know about the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying corpses—and so much more. Brier (Ancient Egyptian Magic, 1980) sets the tone early: ``For 15 years,'' he states matter-of-factly, ``I had been working toward the goal of mummifying a human.'' Imagine his surprise and disappointment when the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University (where he is chairman of the philosophy department) declined the honor of being the site of this project, which among other things would have entailed keeping an unembalmed corpse on the campus for 70 days. The text treats the reader to a scattershot review of the wide variety of information Brier learned about mummies while doing research for the mummification. These range from clinical descriptions of the process (derived from Herodotus and other ancient writers as well as from archaeological evidence) through an account of the development of mummification in ancient Egypt to a fascinating look at medical information scientists have derived from mummies (for instance, that ancient Egyptians suffered from often fatal tooth decay and arterial diseases). Brier discusses French scientists' close, but disappointingly unfruitful, study of Ramses the Great's mummy, briefly takes note of the Egyptian religious and cultural practice of mummifying animals, and inventories famous royal mummies. He concludes rather far afield with a discussion of ``The Mummy in Fiction and Film.'' Mercifully, the book closes before he embarks on the macabre task of actually mummifying a medical cadaver in the ancient manner, which is scheduled to take place this summer. A great gift idea for the hard-core Egyptologist in your life. General readers with strong stomachs may also enjoy Brier's eccentric ramble through the ancient world. (125 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-10272-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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