Occasional self-conscious pontifications on the big questions are forgivable in light of the author's genuine enthusiasm for...

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ADVENTURE DIVAS

SEARCHING THE GLOBE FOR A NEW KIND OF HEROINE

Seal Press editorial director Morris sheds her stuffy old life to become a television producer, criss-crossing the continents in search of intrepid women.

Working at a feminist publisher had been a fine job, but Morris (A Different Angle, 1995, etc.) was ready for a change when she decided to go into business with her mother and create a TV series about inspiring women around the world. Mother and daughter dug deep into their own pockets to fund their pilot, a video shot in Cuba. With footage of female teenage rappers, a filmmaker and a poet all working in the shadow of Castro, they created something that caught the eye of PBS producers, and the diva series was off and running. Morris gives a first-person account of starting the business, directing the shoots and moonlighting as a TV host for another adventure series that was focused on the remote and the strange rather than the female and empowered. In her accounts of India, New Zealand, the Matterhorn, Iran, Borneo and the Sahara, she relates the director’s anxiety about interviews, the producers’ concerns over funding and the writer’s fascination with her material. Morris shows an admirable fearlessness when it comes to chasing down the money shot, whether it’s a pig hunt in Borneo or a “ram cam” to capture a sheep’s-eye view in a charging herd. She also isn’t afraid to discuss menstruation or pen a phrase such as, “Poets are the ones who torch up an eight ball of life’s giant je ne sais quoi and distill it down to a pot of sweet nectar.” This combination of eagerness and earnestness, unfortunately, sometimes distracts from the genuinely interesting subject matter.

Occasional self-conscious pontifications on the big questions are forgivable in light of the author's genuine enthusiasm for her broad but appealing topic.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-50827-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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