WEST FROM HOME

LETTERS OF LAURA INGALLS WILDER, SAN FRANCISCO, 1915

In 1915 Laura Ingalls Wilder was 48 and the publication of the first Little House book was seventeen years in the future; in a sense the well loved chronicler of pioneer childhood had not yet been born. The author of these letters home is Mama Bess, a farm wife and occasional contributor to the Missouri Ruralist, who is enthusiastic over the journalist successes of her daughter and hostess Rose Wilder Lane ("the stories in it, although incidents, are true, and actually happened" she says admiringly of one piece), who marvels at the wonders of the San Francisco exposition and is fearful of city traffic. (Justly, it appears, since her sightseeing is cut short by a fall from a streetcar which lands her in the hospital.) Mama Bess is a dutiful, precise observer but her reactions are exactly those of a wide-eyed provincial more impressed by the Exposition's budget than its content: The "northern 'lights" show cost "$40 a minute. . . in salary alone" she reports triumphantly, but the "friendly and good-natured" Navahos receive only passing mention because their (reconstructed) dwellings "smell like wild beast dens and I did not like to be there." And though students of children's literature might be interested to know that Rose Lane gave her mother help with her writing, Mama's greater preoccupation with recouping a loan made to the Lanes can have mattered to no one but husband Manly. That we find these letters only intermittently interesting can hardly be blamed on Mrs. Wilder who intended them for her husband and friends, but at best they serve as an object lesson proving the English composition cliche "write about what you know.

Pub Date: March 1, 1974

ISBN: 0064400816

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1974

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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