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Many parents, divorced or not, will see reflections of themselves in this pleasant collection.

A collection of humorous, sometimes poignant essays from an award-winning writer and happily divorced father who confesses to hating kids’ music but loving Barry Manilow tunes.

Schwartzberg (The 40-Year Old Version, 2009) returns with another mostly lighthearted ensemble of short reflections on life as a zany but loving dad trying to raise kids after a divorce. Except for a few f-words and some milder expletives, the humor in this easy beach read is almost squeaky clean. Most parents can relate to “Lost In Space,” about the author’s heart-stopping ordeal when he temporarily loses his son in an electronics store. Readers who have endured the trials and tribulations of selling Girl Scout cookies will chuckle at “Tough Cookies,” a series of tongue-in-cheek office memos in which Schwartzberg harasses co-workers to purchase more boxes. In “Football Redefined,” he creates silly definitions for football terms; for example, in a parent’s world, “Good Field Position” is a “shady picnic spot in the park that’s far from dog poop.” Although most of the essays are fun but shallow dips in the family pool, a few are more somber and affecting, such as the story of a teenage accident victim in “The Girl Who,” and touching reflections about his father and grandfather. The author’s self-effacing humor also reveals some insecurities, particularly when he ponders his role as a dad who no longer lives in the same house as his children. In “Dad to the Bone,” for example, he wistfully details the luxurious amount of time his kids’ stepfather can spend with them: “This man sees them in the morning and at night, takes them out to dinner, wakes them up, helps them with their homework, and tells them to brush their teeth. He sits with them in toy-filled waiting rooms, argues with them, jokes with them and even disciplines them.” In the end, however, Schwartzberg realizes that as his kids’ biological father, he will always hold the most special place in their hearts.

Many parents, divorced or not, will see reflections of themselves in this pleasant collection.

Pub Date: June 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939288523

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2014

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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

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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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