A treat not just for music-lovers, but for woodworkers, craftsmen and anyone who has ever mourned the passing of grand...

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PIANO

THE MAKING OF A STEINWAY CONCERT GRAND

New York Times staff reporter Barron follows a Steinway Model D concert grand piano from warehouse to concert hall.

The main character in this story, which began as a series of Times articles, is K0862. (Steinway pianos are known by their numbers.) Born as a few strips of lumber, glued together and bent into shape, K0862 was raised in the Steinway factory and warehouse in Queens, where it was given body and voice. Eventually, it left home for a professional life. Barron documents each step of the process and profiles the workers who complete each of the necessary tasks. Himself an amateur pianist, he combines a journalist’s eye for exactitude with a musician’s love of the instrument. He follows K0862 through the 11-month process, from the bending of the rim through the filing and sanding of each individual key and hammer to the voicing and multiple tunings in soundproof booths. A postlude follows K0862 once it leaves Steinway. The author supplements this individual odyssey with a history of Steinway & Sons. Founded in 1853, the firm faced some daunting challenges in the 20th century. First radio, then television promised entertainment at the twist of a knob (no lessons necessary), and in less than three weeks in 1953, more television sets were made than the total number of pianos built during Steinway’s first hundred years. Yet despite these changes in technology and manufacturing, the company has maintained itself in the art and business of piano-making. The author’s attention to minutiae makes for a few tedious sections, but he successfully conveys the pride each Steinway employee takes in this storied musical instrument.

A treat not just for music-lovers, but for woodworkers, craftsmen and anyone who has ever mourned the passing of grand tradition.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-7878-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2006

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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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