A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.

Destination Dachshund

THREE MONTHS, THREE GENERATIONS & SIXTY DACHSHUNDS

In her debut memoir, Australia-based blogger Fleetwood shares the highs and lows of an extended family trip from Sydney to New York City.

The transition from blog to book is trickier than many writers realize, but for the most part, Fleetwood has the knack. In 2010, right before Fleetwood and her family took off from Sydney, one of their dachshunds, Coco, died unexpectedly; the remaining dog, Charlie, she says, “won’t leave our side or our laps…his howls break our hearts.” In honor of Coco, the family invents a trip-long game of dachshund sightings. Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—86 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her. The family goes to Singapore; Istanbul; Moscow; Budapest, Hungary; Nuremberg, Germany; Paris; and Dublin (with numerous stops in between), before finally reaching New York in time for Christmas. There, they discover that “People are all going in different directions and are pushy, loud and rough.” But Fleetwood is otherwise delighted by almost everything else she encounters, be it a dinner cruise on Europe’s Danube River or a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France (Christmas markets are her admitted addiction). She’s also as adept at noting what it’s like to travel with family as she is at describing cathedrals, castles, battlefields, and Roman ruins. In Turkey, for example, her 12-year-old son “barters for a fez hat that he will probably never wear again”; later, at a Paris café, she notes her recently widowed mother’s loneliness, achingly detectable under her otherwise cheerful demeanor. Fleetwood can be a sensitive observer and she has an admirable fascination with and respect for history. But occasionally, there are jarring juxtapositions. In Krakow, Poland, for example, the family visits a monument to many thousands of Krakow Jews who died in World War II; barely a paragraph later, Fleetwood’s husband spots a miniature dachshund: “I follow his pointed finger, and sure enough ahead in the distance is a darling brown miniature dachshund. It’s so cute!” Overall, though, the author ably conveys the fleeting pleasures of managing a trip that embraces both grandparents and grandchildren. By the time they get to Poland, for example, the kids complain they are “churched out,” and anyone who’s ever been part of a family outing will certainly relate.

A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.

Pub Date: April 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9945914-0-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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

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