THE WRECKER

A mind-bender-cum-novel, set against the bleak landscapes of schoolyard bullying. Theo is tormented by a vicious boy, Jeffrey, and wants revenge. He doesn't just want to kill him or set him up, he wants to wreck himdestroy his mind and soul. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, Theo has a talent for creating devices, a talent that goes beyond genius, beyond artistry: It approaches the metaphysical. When he enlists new kid Michael as his ally, Michael is at once intrigued and terrified. Theo's new device, a wrecker, turns out to be more than either of them had imagined. Skinner's You Must Kiss a Whale (1992), was, like this one, weird. His characters and situations are once again, bizarrely familiar, and his style is unique and compellingly odd. Michael is realistically drawn. He is introspective, struggling with self- doubt, a nice kid; Theo, on the other hand, stepped out of a Dali painting. Michael is mesmerized, wants to know and understand Theo better, yet never does. The descriptions of Theo's method of working and of the machines themselves, are strange and haunting; the outcome immensely satisfying and will linger in the mind. Skinner stretches the boundaries of children's fiction with an unforgettable story. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-671-79771-9

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1995

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STORIES FROM WHERE WE LIVE

THE GULF COAST

A century ago, collections of intelligent anthologies for children graced bookshelves, encompassing titles like The World and Its People and The Outdoor Book. This fourth installment of the similarly minded literary series mapping the eco-regions of the US treats the Gulf Coast. All edited by St. Antoine, each seeks to give its readers a true impression of its proscribed region through memoirs, fiction, poetry, and finally exposition. It doesn’t fail, even if some authors’ connections with the Gulf Coast at times are a bit of a stretch, like equating a Po Boy with a Hero sandwich. No matter, for much of the collection is lively and evocative. Audubon and John Muir, with slightly archaic language, line up here with contemporary, earnest-sounding lesser-knowns. The poetry is uneven and sometimes clearly serving the political topic, like “Migration Midpoint,” making the excellent “Eulogy for a Hermit Crab” and “My Mother Returns to Calaboz” stand out the better. The Kathy Starr selection, “The Soul of Southern Cooking” is out of place here because a Gulf Coaster would never accept writing from the Delta Country as appropriately proximate, no matter what boundaries the scientists define. Better choices would have been writing by Jessica Harris or even memories culled from Leah Chase’s cookbook. But two of the best stories, “Fig Picking,” and “Mosquito Blues,” are perfectly pitched for this anthology, although the authors are also technically not Gulf Coasters. The canny inclusion of fables of mythic proportions by the late J.J. Reneaux and the great Zora Neale Hurston add the right atmosphere and spice. So mixed with the obligatory manatee and Key Deer stories, newcomers to the Gulf Coast will materially experience the poignant diversity of this dwindling coast of marshes, beaches, and bayous as if they were walking its circumference, no mean editorial feat. Locals will glow at the inclusion of “Buried Christmas Tree,” concerning what is becoming a necessary Gulf Coast custom: the recycling of Christmas trees to create new barrier islands. An extensive essay on the ecological makeup, habitats, plants, and animals wraps it all up. (bibliography, author’s notes, list of parks and preserves, map, not seen) (Anthology. 12+)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-57131-636-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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TOP LAWYERS AND THEIR FAMOUS CASES

According to Emert, the eight lawyers profiled in this book all shared a ``commitment to the causes of justice, fairness, and equality.'' Andrew Hamilton, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln played prominent leadership roles in American history. Belva Lockwood, the first woman lawyer to appear before the US Supreme Court, assisted the Cherokee Indians in their monetary claim against the government. Clarence Darrow (the Scopes trial), Robert H. Jackson (the German war-crimes trial), and Joseph Welch (the McCarthy hearings) exemplified lawyers whose trial skills were at the highest levels. Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and ``the first attorney to file suit against a racist organization,'' has won substantial monetary judgments against the Ku Klux Klan and the White Aryan Resistance; his work continues today. Emert (All That Glitters, 1995, not reviewed, etc.) presents legal theories in clear and concise language; the tone is intentionally admirable in keeping with the book's goal of counteracting the negative image of lawyers. It meets and surpasses that goal, hands down. (b&w photos, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14+)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 1996

ISBN: 1-881508-31-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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