An approachable grandparent voice guides students interested in African animals, mountain climbing, and travel, with great...


Bibi & Babu in Africa

Recalling their trip to Tanzania, two grandparents offer photos and a collection of facts about animals on safari, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and the plight of Tanzanian orphans.

Some grandparents are homebodies; others travel the world and bring home pictures. Christiansen and Toews are the second kind. Here, combining their travel photos with reminiscences and factual data, they share memories of their trip to Kenya, Nairobi, and mostly Tanzania. The story is broken down into three sections: the safari, Christiansen’s journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, and the couple’s experiences at Kilimanjaro Orphanage Center. The book begins with an introduction that uses colonialist language: “Here we meet simple, loving, peaceful people with no apparent racial bias. The soulful eyes and bright smiles of Tanzanian children remind us of an innocence lost in our fast-paced technological world of today. Yet, ironically, even in the primitive villages of the Maasai tribe, we see teenagers talking into cell phones.” The repeated use of the word “primitive” may also grate on some parents and teachers. The adventure begins as Toews and Christiansen, nicknamed Bibi and Babu (“grandma” and “grandpa” in Swahili) by their safari driver/guide, spend time in a Maasai village where Christiansen asked question after question and performed admirably in a Maasai ceremony welcoming outsiders. The couple and their tour group headed out into the Serengeti, where they saw all sorts of wildlife. The pictures in this section are the book’s greatest draw: young readers will fawn over the tiny baby blue monkey, admire the giraffes, and be worried at how close the lions were to the Land Cruisers. (Some of the images are listed in the frontmatter as stock photography, but most are the authors’ travel photos.) After the safari, Christiansen journeyed to the peak of Kilimanjaro; his photographs dominate this section, accompanied by very little text. The final section introduces children of the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre, praising their gratitude while discussing the challenges the orphanage faces in caring for them. The book’s layout, in columns, is occasionally made strange due to photo placement, so it’s sometimes hard to follow the flow of the text down one column and up through the next; at least one image is strangely edited. The book wavers from educational to conversational—much like a conversation with grandparents—and thus lands indecisively between being a classroom aid and a memoir.

An approachable grandparent voice guides students interested in African animals, mountain climbing, and travel, with great pictures to match. 

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940145-46-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Whistler House Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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