An engaging series of glimpses into the minds and priorities of kids in San Francisco.

URBAN PLAYGROUND

WHAT KIDS SAY ABOUT LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO

An unusual collection offers interviews with California schoolchildren.

In her unconventional nonfiction debut, Burke compiles interviews with a group of San Francisco school kids on a broad array of subjects. The author presents these interviews as fleshed-out profiles, providing readers with short biographical details about each of her interviewees, stitching their responses into a conversational narrative. Burke follows each piece with a selection of discussion questions clearly aimed at children roughly the same age as the kids described in the book. Readers meet youngsters like 9-year-old Silas, who likes living in San Francisco but thinks parts of it are a bit “sketchy.” He appreciates the fact that the city isn’t “cold” like Washington, D.C. (readers from the Midwest and New England will wince a bit), which prompts the discussion question: “Would you rather visit a hot or cold weather place, and why?” The author also presents 9-year-old Lilah, who lives in the Castro District and loves soccer (her favorite thing about the sport is the teamwork). This sparks the discussion question: “If you play soccer, or if you ever did play, do you think it would be more fun to run around or defend your team’s goal, and why?” And readers encounter 6-year-old Eliza, who likes San Francisco, particularly its birds—she loves to chirp to them. (“Do you talk to birds?” the discussion question goes. “And if so, do you tweet at them or say something else?”) These enjoyable profiles are uniformly charming and unguarded peeks into the worlds and minds of kids in one city, and the discussion questions are general enough to be very useful in leading to fun conversations with similarly aged children. But by restraining to such a marked degree from editorializing, Burke misses an opportunity to make the lively book even more captivating for her adult readers, many of whom will want more context about the kids’ lives and environments. Still, the direct voices of these children are quite intriguing in their own right.

An engaging series of glimpses into the minds and priorities of kids in San Francisco.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-016-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2020

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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