A heartwarming story of how a young woman confronted dyslexia and went on to help others.

Once Upon a Time a Sparrow

A school psychologist works to accept her own past while also fighting for her students.

In Kabrich’s debut novel, 47-year-old Mary Madelyn Meyers, a psychologist in a Minnesota school system in 2005, struggles to maintain a professional demeanor after her mother dies. She argues with a rage bordering on violence against teachers who want to hold back students with disabilities or different learning styles. When she begins seeing social worker Irene Ingersoll, readers learn that these outbursts, which Mary calls “the mercurial monster,” are linked to her childhood. Back in 1967, Mary was in third grade, went by the nickname “Maddie,” and struggled with severe dyslexia. Her teacher, Mrs. Zinc, classified readers at different levels as types of birds: the best readers were “eagles” and the slowest, “sparrows.” Maddie, time after time, was labeled a sparrow, and she lived in fear of repeating third grade as a result. However, when Mrs. Zinc began reading a new story, The Fairy Angel’s Gift, in class, Maddie became inspired to put new energy into her reading; she stole the book and began working hard on it outside of class. As these two plotlines develop, the older Mary balances her personal struggles and professional life, Maddie learns to read The Fairy Angel’s Gift, and Kabrich reveals an engaging story of self-actualization. The primary motor of the narrative is Mary’s quest for stability in the workplace, but its emotional core rests in the third-grader’s struggle; Maddie’s earnest effort to push herself is endearing and inspiring. Still, the true strength of Kabrich’s novel isn’t its story but rather the important issues to which it draws readers’ attention. Maddie, and the students that she works with as an adult, exemplifies the countless kids that don’t conform to common academic standards. The author demonstrates how school administrations can allow these children to fall through the cracks, sometimes causing lifelong damage to their confidence and learning abilities. It’s an important lesson for everyone to learn and one that Kabrich teaches well.

A heartwarming story of how a young woman confronted dyslexia and went on to help others.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 253

Publisher: Open Wings Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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