At once heart-wrenching and heart-lifting is this record of four years that the author spent riding to the rescue of abused and neglected children. Parent was an Emergency Children's Service worker in New York City's child welfare system, one of the men and women who on nights and weekends investigate calls about children in danger. Parent (yes, he took a lot of flack about his name) came to public prominence when a baby died after he and another worker had visited a family in a mice- and drug-infested building and missed identifying the child as at ``imminent risk,'' that is, in immediate danger of death or serious injury. Official blame was placed elsewhere, but Parent agonized over the judgment for weeks. This compelling book is the result of his self-scrutiny. It includes what the author considers the most tragic and dramatic of the hundreds of cases he encountered. Here is the story of a mother who, anticipating Armageddon, urged her five children to jump out a 23rd-storey window; two leaped before help arrived. Another woman, convinced that she was hexed and seeing blood on the walls and broken glass in the food, had barricaded herself and her hungry children inside their apartment. In another horror story, a nine-year-old had beaten his five-year- old cousin to death. Amid the sad tales are often humorous sketches of Parent's colleagues and telling vignettes of the primitive working conditions—among other things, no place for children removed from their homes late at night to sleep except a straight chair. In the long anecdote that provides the title for the book, Parent comes to believe that even in cases where child welfare workers can do little, the work provides ``an opportunity to touch a life at a critical moment and make it better.'' Riveting stories, tuned to the headlines, that also defend the much maligned caseworkers who must make snap judgments under often bizarre circumstances in the field. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100204-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.



Inspirational lessons from the life of one tough teacher.

Today’s parents who lament their children stressing over tests may be horrified by the themes of tough love and tenacity offered by this biographical tribute to the late Jerry Kupchynsky, “Mr. K,” a gifted high school strings teacher from East Brunswick, N.J., whose exacting methods helped spawn the careers of generations of musicians and educators. Journalist Lipman and Kupchynsky, a violinist and Mr. K’s daughter, met as children when Mr. K joined his daughter’s exceptional talents on violin with Lipman’s on viola to form half of a string quartet that would also include Kupchynsky’s younger sister, whose disappearance decades later reunited the authors. The bond forged through the intensity of creating music is but one of the storylines running through this engrossing account of Mr. K’s life. Born in 1928 in the Ukraine, Mr. K endured a litany of wartime atrocities before immigrating to the United States as a refugee in 1946. But prior to fleeing to the U.S., it was the sound of a German soldier playing the violin that sparked his love for classical music. Surviving these early hardships helped instill in Mr. K an appreciation of adversity as a motivator, an unflagging belief in the value of hard work and a willingness to fight for the underdog. With a booming Ukrainian accent and “trim” mustache, Mr. K’s battle-ax demeanor and perfectionist drive struck both fear and a ferocious desire to succeed in the hearts of his pupils. One of his more unforgiving approaches involved singling out a section’s weakest player—“Who eez deaf in first violins?”—and forcing the guilty party to play alone with a stronger player until the weak one improved. While tactics like these may not have earned his students’ immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found they could achieve more than they ever dreamed.

Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2466-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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