A sweet, wide-eyed, feel-good account about a family friend.



A debut memoir tells the story of a disabled friend who taught the author valuable life lessons.

In the late 1960s, Wiand’s family, which included seven children, moved to Carson City, Michigan, where the kids hoped to make new friends. Enter Eddie Lee—a good-natured, 15-year-old boy with developmental disabilities—who showed up at their door clutching a fistful of peacock feathers. This unique welcome turned into an enduring friendship, and the fun-filled adventures of Eddie became legendary in the author’s family. Affectionately dubbed “Fast Eddie” for the way he zoomed around town on his bicycle, he hadn’t always been so happy. He had been neglected as a baby, and starvation caused permanent brain damage and near blindness in one eye. Thankfully, a loving woman named Tilly convinced her husband that they should adopt him. Tilly taught Eddie how to ride a bike. He started riding it all over town, meeting new friends, collecting bottles to sell, and working odd jobs. And even though he was often bullied, Eddie managed to find joy in life. After growing up, Eddie and Wiand lost touch for more than 30 years, but then they reconnected in 2009. Elderly Tilly had been institutionalized, and Eddie was living with unscrupulous caregivers in horrible conditions. Not to worry—much like Fast Eddie, this often poignant account remains optimistic. Ten brisk chapters offer compelling Eddie anecdotes along with accompanying life lessons. For example, Chapter 6, “Treasure Everything,” tenderly describes how Eddie always had a pocket full of surprises—like arrowheads or a lucky rabbit’s foot—he’d found while neighborhood scavenging. Wiand urges readers to remember that real treasures don’t involve money. There’s some humor here, too. Chapter 2, “Believe In Yourself,” details how Eddie—despite the doubts of others—expertly drove the kids home from a lake after Grandpa got too drunk to handle the task. Regardless of the situation, Eddie’s a memorable guy, and—like curling up on the couch while eating ice cream and watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie—this smooth-flowing, heartwarming memoir is comforting.

A sweet, wide-eyed, feel-good account about a family friend.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9980223-0-7

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Carlysle & Lloyd Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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