A quiet, leisurely, and moving account of Jewish life in Rome during WW II. In 1938, the Italian government instituted a number of exclusionary racial laws. The Jews of Rome, who had by then been thoroughly integrated within nearly every sphere of public life, were suddenly forced into isolation and threatened with the prospect of exile or death. At the Villa Celimontana, the segregated school where Della Seta spent the war years, most of the students found themselves enclosed within a wholly Jewish setting for the first time in their lives and had to find new ways of understanding themselves and their nation. Many of them began to consult rabbis and attend temple services; others took up Zionism. Some fought the fascists as partisans; at least one joined the Fascist party ``to reform it from within.'' This is a memoir rather than a history, and the author writes with that lack of focus and richness of incident that most young lives contain: the intellectual pretensions and ambitions of his classmates, the anxieties brought by news of invasion or deportations, the simple traumas of adolescence, the strange beauty of Rome—all are portrayed with the same deliberation and seriousness. The final chapter, a rather sketchy account of Della Seta's 1960 meeting with Martin Buber in Jerusalem, attempts to add a bit of perspective by showing what the author became (an accomplished journalist) and how the Jewish sense that he gained of himself during the war grew in the quiet years that followed. Rambling and a bit diffuse, but very strong all the same. Della Seta's formal and rather distant narration (he writes in the third person) gives a novelistic quality to the story, profound in its pathos and depth.

Pub Date: June 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-910395-63-2

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Northwestern Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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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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