A slow but purposeful and engaging remembrance.




In this debut memoir, Stevens pays tribute to his mother as an avid learner, wise teacher, and tender nurturer.

The author was born in 1958 and grew up in rural Indiana. As he describes his mother, Berthella (who receives co-author credit), it immediately becomes clear that she didn’t conform to traditional gender roles of the era. She had “perpetual struggles in the kitchen,” didn’t keep an immaculate home, and pursued “her own social and intellectual stimulation.” Her in-laws rejected such nonconformity, but it was a tremendous blessing to her nuclear family. She always had time for her children and for education—constantly learning new things and teaching others. She also embraced her talents, providing therapeutic massages in her home and writing a newspaper column about her local community. The memoir recounts Stevens’ childhood memories, but it’s truly about Berthella, with each chapter painting another stroke in a portrait of an exceptional woman. She’s shown to be fun-loving, as evidenced by an impromptu family food fight, and nurturing, as seen by her care of Stevens when he suffered from polio and later, two broken arms after a playground mishap. Ultimately, the author says, “she was crazy for life,” constantly finding joy and meaning in nature, language, and relationships. Stevens’ vivid details transport the reader directly into the time period and physical settings, and he has a gift for describing ordinary things in beautiful, artistic ways, allowing the audience to experience a zest for life that he seemingly inherited from his mother: “Strawberries grew like jewels in the treasure chest of our garden”; “she and I regularly plucked food from [the library’s] shelves for our ravenous minds.” The book’s slow pace is reflective of unhurried rural life. Still, each chapter draws the reader in, allowing them to glimpse life in the country and a woman who lived life to its fullest.

A slow but purposeful and engaging remembrance.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73242-661-0

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Six Points Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?