Funky, fun, and occasionally naughty, with a meaningful message about embracing creativity and living life to the fullest.

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A large dose of creative inspiration served up in an irreverent self-help package.

When he’s not writing books, Leisawitz composes and produces music, makes films, and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University, among other things. In a debut that’s full of cheeky attitude, he encourages creative types “to rev up, keep it on the road, and step on the gas.” The underlying messages—find your passion, do what you love, visualize a successful outcome, learn from failure, take risks, pursue your dreams, and, above all, have fun—are fairly typical of self-improvement books. The difference here is the author’s delightful delivery: Leisawitz writes with clarity and honesty, employing contemporary cadence and hip phraseology. He peppers his prose with insights and quirky humor: “As you may have noticed, humans are delicate creatures with oversized brains that tend to get themselves into trouble.” In addition, the book offers an intriguing mix of philosophy (“The Universe will guide you towards your highest good”) and psychology (“The one who puts the most time and effort into sabotaging our lives is ourselves”). The author effortlessly strings these one-liners throughout the text, creating a reading experience that’s a bit startling at times but always exhilarating. The book’s design is equally engaging; the type is unusually large, headlines emphasize key points and frequently break up pages, and cartoon illustrations enhance and effectively augment the text. In the end, the process promulgated by Leisawitz celebrates untethered creativity and freedom of spirit in the broadest sense: “Although it may not seem like it at times,” he writes, “every moment that you’re alive on this planet is a big deal. It’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to grow, to do stuff.” The author’s reverence for the creative process is evident throughout, and he writes with a passion that’s nothing if not infectious.

Funky, fun, and occasionally naughty, with a meaningful message about embracing creativity and living life to the fullest.

Pub Date: June 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-89996-0

Page Count: 169

Publisher: Electron Unlimited LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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