A revelatory, smartly written account of the workings at an impressive animal shelter in New York State, from Village Voice art critic (and shelter volunteer) Hess. It is Hess’s hope that this book “will turn the most common myths about shelter animals inside out”: principally that the animals are losers, either sick or frantic or vicious. She accomplishes that task in the first few pages and the remainder of the book is given over to profiling the denizens—both human and animal—of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. The animals are a genial and motley crew of mostly dogs and cats, with a few rabbits and goats and others. The humans are a no-nonsense group of extraordinarily dedicated, underpaid men and women devoted to the welfare of animals. In the process, Hess dispels the notion of shelters as blood-mad abattoirs, stinking and neglected final ports of call for the dregs of the pet world (though Hess doesn’t shrink from taking a long, hard look at the role of euthanasia in a shelter). A couple of the chapters provide adrenaline-pumping excitement—going on patrol with a humane-law enforcement agent, taking part of a raid at a grotesque puppy mill—and there are stories aplenty of cruelty and its consequences: “Chances are, when a crazy dog arrives at the shelter, there’s a crazy person on the other end of the leash.” Perhaps most troubling to Hess is how far our throw-away culture has gone, how we can show so little compunction about handing a pet over to a shelter, absolve ourselves of responsibilities, and how that in turn is reflected in the modern tenuousness of human survival as well. As Hess makes all too clear, shelters aren’t slaughterhouses but sanctuaries, witness—protection programs for animals that are more refugees—from neglect or abuse or abandonment—than strays. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 4, 1998

ISBN: 0-15-100337-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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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