The first black country music star spins a great life story. Charley Pride, one of 11 kids born into Mississippi Delta poverty, may be the only black country star, but he's no Uncle Tom. He frankly describes growing up in a segregated world, with a tough-as-nails father and a mother he adored, writing with simple directness and folksy turn of phrase (``You have to walk past a lot of woodpiles...but most of them do not harbor wild animals''). He speaks movingly about race relations and indignities endured early on, including seeing a brother kidnapped by whites. Pride actually set out to become a professional baseball player; slowed by injuries, he still managed to become a star in the Negro Leagues and flirted with the majors. He stumbled into country music—which he had loved from childhood—almost as an afterthought. But he's had a surprisingly smooth ride there and sees his acceptance by country's white audiences as proof that music lowers barriers. Like baseball's Jackie Robinson, Pride had the right combination of traits for a pioneer: good looks, charm, and talent. He tells how RCA set up his career (developing a following for him on radio before letting fans learn he was black), and of aid and friendship proffered by Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, Ralph Emery, and others. As with many celebrity stories, the tale of Pride's gritty beginnings is more interesting than details of his finances, his interest in astrology, or the obligatory star-chat of later chapters. Pride's story flags only slightly as he describes a struggle with manic depression, a campaign to gain respect from a withholding father, and his disappointment with the way country has abandoned its elder statesmen for vacuous, photogenic young stars. Filled with wit and grit, an admirable exemplar of the celebrity bio genre.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12638-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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