A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans.

TEACHING WILL

WHAT SHAKESPEARE AND 10 KIDS GAVE ME THAT HOLLYWOOD COULDN'T

A former actress shares her experiences running a Shakespeare acting club at a Los Angeles elementary school as well as reflections on her own life and career.

Canadian-born actress Ryane had walked away from an acting career and was working as an acting coach and living in LA with her husband, William, when she spotted a flyer that asked for “civilian help” to make Arden Street Elementary “the best school possible.” She volunteered to run an after-school Shakespeare acting club at the school, where students were mostly of color and from low-income families, and transformed a rowdy, distracted group of children into an acting troupe ready to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She had them follow “rules” for the club: respect each other, Shakespeare, and the acting process and write in journals (excerpts are included here). Ryane soon realized that her group had issues beyond her own experience (literacy challenges) and reminiscent of her own life (facing the scrutiny of casting); she includes several autobiographical flashback sequences for context. Throughout the rehearsal process, Ryane learned to navigate the balance of leading and learning from the children, who proudly came together to play Titania, Bottom, et al., by year’s end. Ryane brings a wry tone to this highly enjoyable memoir, and parents and teachers will undoubtedly appreciate her stories about working with children who are by turns sweet and wily. She effectively brings her pint-size players to life; Miles, the only boy in the production, is a particularly well-drawn character who goes from just wanting to swing a sword to itching to play Hamlet. It’s inspiring how Ryane helped these kids step up to Shakespeare, and their journal excerpts are often hilarious (“William Shakespeare went to London because I like his plays”). The inclusion of various excerpts from Shakespeare’s works also underscores the evergreen emotional connections to be found in the Bard’s work. Overall, a bravura performance.

A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939629234

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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