TRAVELS ON MY ELEPHANT

``I was restless again. The last time I had been restless, I ended up being pursued by cannibals in Indonesia.'' This is how British travel-writer Shand explains why he skipped off to India to buy an elephant and ride it 800 miles from Konarak, on the Bay of Bengal, north to the Ganges River. Shand falls in love at first sight with the 30-year-old female pachyderm, which he names Tara: ``She was leaning nonchalantly against a tree, the charms of her perfectly rounded posterior in full view, like a prostitute on a street corner. I knew then I had to have her.'' The foray also includes his buddy Aditya, a drunken elephant-handler named Bhim, and a support jeep manned by two drivers—which makes the trip more like a traveling circus than an adventure. Still, the company meets a few dangers, like cobras slithering by the tent, man-eating tigers, and infrequent escape attempts by Tara herself. But elephant-love remains the central subject of the story as Shand's affection for Tara grows so strong that, when he must sell her at the bazaar in Sonepur Mela, he starts sounding like a little boy entranced by the cozy protectiveness of a mother; indeed, the handler calls Tara ``Mummy.'' Shand does find a good home for Tara, and when they part, the elephant, like a Betsy Wetsy doll, sheds real tears—or so Shand says. There's surprisingly little here on the politics of elephant preservation in a country where the population is at war with the giant creatures. But animal lovers will be charmed, since Tara ultimately comes across as an oversized pet with lots of darling human traits that demonstrate just how much like people elephants really are. (Thirty color photographs.)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-87951-454-X

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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