LOOKING FOR THE KLONDIKE STONE

A loving celebration of those special refuges of childhood that are forever the measure of happiness for those fortunate enough to have known them. The intensity of the joy that novelist Arthur (Binding Spell, 1988, etc.) found in the five perfect seasons that she spent in the early 60's at Camp Wynakee in Vermont's Green Mountains was as much a reflection of the experience itself as a contrast to the rest of her life—about which she's rather reticent. Like a starving prisoner, she spent the months between camp-visits living on carefully apportioned memories of the summer before: ``I wanted to savor the summer in small mouthfuls so that it would last the whole year, and the month of September might see me eating just the first week, just the first day even. I was amazed at how much of the camp I could take with me if I slowed down in this manner.'' Arthur describes a summer at camp: the proper outfit she brought, so that the whole camp became her ``single outer garment''; the camp owners, who tried to help their charges ``discover the qualities we could be proud of''; the daily routine; special events like hikes to Bat Cave, the Fourth of July parade, and, best of all, Klondike Day. On this day, every camper took part in a search for the Klondike Stone, a large, hidden rock painted gold: The search was as much a holy quest as an exciting break in routine, a quest that epitomized all Arthur felt for the place and all that she'd learned there. Even if ``as the years have passed, and I have again brought my bag home empty, it seems I'm always getting nearer. In a way the more time I spend looking, the better I will like it.'' Like the author's camp memories, better savored than wolfed down: a splendid evocation of wisdom acquired in a demi-Eden by a writer of great grace and sensitivity.

Pub Date: June 9, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-41894-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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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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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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