Occasionally repetitious; best for history trivia buffs and Kuehn's family members.

STEPPING INTO RURAL WISCONSIN

GRANDPA CHARLY'S LIFE VIGNETTES, FROM PRUSSIA TO THE MIDWEST

Debut author Kuehn collaborates with debut co-author Ruggeri to pen a tribute to his paternal grandparents in this look back at Wisconsin farm life during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Driven by a desire to better understand his grandparents, Carl August Kuehn and Hulda Theresa Bandt Kuehn, Kuehn returned to Ripon, Wisconsin, in a quest for information about the Eastern European immigrants who settled as farmers in the northern part of the state. The work traces scant documented family land transactions, adding general historical data about the area as well as Kuehn’s personal recollections of the two decades spent visiting his grandparents on their farm. The result is this celebration of the “dignified, quiet, and unassuming lives” led by the simple, hardworking folk who populated rural Wisconsin. Both Grandpa Charly and Grandma Hulda were first-generation offspring of Prussian immigrants who had separately arrived midcentury in Princeton, Wisconsin. Charlie married Hulda in 1894 when he was 24 years old, she only 16. They lived with Hulda’s parents until the spring of 1895, when they rented a house in Metomen, where Charly helped work his father’s farm. In 1907, Charly purchased his own farm in Ripon, remaining there until his death in 1956. Much of this first-person narrative, written in Kuehn’s voice, is culled from reference books and is therefore not specific to Kuehn’s family. The authors enhance what are sometimes rather dry historical and geographical details with long passages that imagine what Charly might have been thinking: “Sitting on the porch stoop before going to bed, I took in my surroundings. Short loud trills of gray tree frogs filled the air. The warm summer breeze had cleared the sky and all the stars were out looking down upon us.” The text is overloaded with recent family genealogy, which becomes tedious, but it’s also sprinkled with some historical lifestyle gems; e.g., how to bake bread in a wood-stove oven and why women often wore black wedding dresses.

Occasionally repetitious; best for history trivia buffs and Kuehn's family members.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9992780-0-0

Page Count: 140

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2017

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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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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