In Neff’s debut children’s book, playful animals remind kids to mind their manners.
Gentle, funny phrases are often a useful tool for reminding kids to use proper behaviors. This book aims to add a few more to the toolbox: “Don’t be a whino rhino.” “Stand tall like a giraffe.” “Be gracious and always exhibit the regal behavior of the lion.” Neff depicts a series of lessons about manners as a safari. Readers meet giraffes who teach poise and confidence, penguins who teach “dignity and honor” (specifically, good table manners), lions who teach “courage and humility” (how to give and receive gifts graciously), and so on. The list is comprehensive and refreshingly old-fashioned; how many adults know to put their napkin to the left of their plate when they get up from the table, or how to do a box dance step? (Neff includes two diagrams, featuring the men’s and the women’s steps.) The safari conceit is clever and memorable, and sure to catch kids’ attention. However, the text itself is almost certain to lose them. After a few paragraphs describing each animal, the story repeatedly resorts to bullet points—more than two dozen in one section—detailing etiquette rules. Hippos, for example, are said to “make everyone feel special by inviting everyone to swim and play along with them.” But instead of using a story or example to reinforce that lesson, there’s merely a list: “Do not gossip or tell lies. Do not play favorites. Accept and honor one another’s differences and uniqueness; don’t poke fun at the wonderful things that make us individually special.” On their own, the lists are simply too abstract, and sometimes more than a little overwhelming. However, it’s easy to imagine parents or teachers turning to individual sections to reinforce household rules, or as a jumping-off point to discuss specific behaviors. Many parents struggle to define the behaviors they expect from their kids, and this book may help set very clear boundaries. A dozen bright, playful illustrations, including zebras congratulating wildebeests on a good soccer game, may help kids stay focused, and perhaps even make them giggle.
A comprehensive book about manners, but one that isn’t as fun, memorable or accessible as it could be.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491829837

Page Count: 36

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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