These are charming and wise stories, simply told, to be enjoyed by young and old alike—“stories need us if they are to come...



Native American tales relate the story of California's Sonoma Mountain.

Sarris (Writing and Native American Studies/Sonoma State University; Watermelon Nights, 1999, etc.) is chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and these stories were previously published in the tribal newsletter. Inspired by traditional Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo creation tales, they're set near Santa Rosa, California, and tell the story of nearby Sonoma Mountain. As Sarris points out, it “isn’t one story; it is many stories that make up the one story.” The book is like an ancient story cycle as it gathers together 16 different tales, each introduced by Coyote’s twin granddaughters, Answer Woman and Question Woman. Coyote is “the one who created this world, this Mountain.” His granddaughters may be a pair of crows who sit on a fence partway up the mountain or they be humans. Answer Woman knows the stories but cannot think of them unless asked by Question Woman. The book begins and ends with tales about a pretty woman and her necklace, which act as a framing device, connecting the stories just as "this necklace contains the songs and stories of your home, this wondrous Mountain. Each shell bead contains a song, and each abalone pendant one of the stories." Local animals—crow, mole, centipede, lizard, rattlesnake, skunk, bat—play significant roles. Each story addresses something different. When Question Woman asks, “How did night come about in the first place?" Answer Woman responds, “I can give you the answer with one story. Listen.” When asked, “How did pain come about?” Answer Woman responds, “Listen carefully. It’s the story of how a mountain was made.” At one point Answer Woman responds that stories “are like windows that we can look out of and see a part of the real world.” An illustrated volume would be welcomed.

These are charming and wise stories, simply told, to be enjoyed by young and old alike—“stories need us if they are to come forth and have life too.”

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59714-414-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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