In her debut memoir, Bardell reflects on her early childhood in the idyllic Estonian countryside before the Soviet Union annexed her country in during World War II.
In 1938 Bardell’s parents built a small farmhouse in a pastoral setting near the Baltic Sea in Estonia. “Everyone knew each other and there were no strangers,” the author writes. Prior to World War II, Bardell’s childhood was peaceful. She was very independent, entrusted to walk over two kilometers to fetch yeast from a neighbor’s when she was just shy of 4 years old. Her dress caught on fire from a hearth twice, but she sees such incidents as small ones caused by “my misunderstanding of how the world worked.” War came to the Raudsepp family when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940, followed by a German invasion in 1941. Bardell’s father was conscripted into the German army but escaped and hid in the forest behind the farm. Her family was in danger: “My blissful life had abruptly changed....All that had been joyful was no longer as it was.” The Raudsepps packed what they could carry, and in September 1944 made a perilous 52-hour voyage in a leaky fishing boat to Sweden. After their arrival, they realized it was Bardell’s fifth birthday and sang the prescient traditional birthday song “Sa Elagu,” or “You shall live.” Although the Soviet Union tried to repatriate refugees, her family successfully relocated to Canada. Her parents never went back to their homeland. But Bardell visited Estonia after the fall of the Soviet Union found many places just as she remembered them. She calls her brief, episodic memoir “a fond reflection” but paints a poignant picture of a vanished world, which may appeal both to middle-graders and to adults. Reminiscent of Laura Ingalls’ Wilder’s The Little House on the Prairie series, the book abounds with uncredited soft, upbeat watercolor illustrations in the spirt of Garth Williams’ beloved artwork for those tales or the paintings of contemporary artist Lauren Castillo. Vintage black-and-white and more recent color photos add to the appeal of this reminiscence of a county underrepresented in children’s literature.
A fond remembrance of a rural childhood in Estonia charms with its story and pictures.
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").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)