A succinct and sometimes-engaging, if occasionally cloudy, account of a long life.

THE APRICOT OUTLOOK OF KATHERINE KOON HUNG WONG

A debut portrait of a Chinese American woman from Hawaii, compiled from interviews by her son.

Wong presents the story of his mother, Katherine “Katy” C. Wong (1928-2014), in her own words, drawing from conversations that he, her eldest child, conducted in the latter part of her life between 2005 and 2009. She was born in Honolulu, where she worked at her family’s laundry business before graduating high school in 1946. Two years later, she married. She was soon with child, although later, after having multiple children, her doctor advised her husband to refrain from getting her pregnant “all the time,” she said. In 1960, the young family settled in Hayward, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. There, Katy worked various jobs, including at a Jack LaLanne Hi-Protein bar factory. Later in life, she professed a fondness for gambling (“I play blackjack. I’m good at it”) and she enjoyed giving protein bars away to people when traveling. Along with Katy’s own words, the book also features an array of color and black-and-white images from her life, depicting such things as the first home that she and her husband purchased and travel documents from a trip to China. At fewer than 70 pages in length, including pictures, the memoir moves along very quickly. However, some of her memories lack explanation and detail, perhaps due, in part, to the effects of a stroke, as the editor points out in a preface. She says at one point, for example, that her deceased husband and daughter “can play Japanese cards,” although what this refers to is unclear; she also doesn’t talk in detail about what it was like to work in a Jack LaLanne factory, or what her first impressions of California were. Still, Katy’s statements can carry plenty of emotional weight at times: “I feel sorry that the doctor told him you don’t get Katy upset because she is already downhill.”

A succinct and sometimes-engaging, if occasionally cloudy, account of a long life.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949723-53-3

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Bookwhip Company

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2020

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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