For children’s-literature researchers after the eclectic and esoteric, the price is right.

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THE PROFESSOR IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

AN ANTHOLOGY

Published as a companion to editor Terras’ monograph, Picture-Book Professors (2018), which analyzes depictions of professors in illustrated children’s books, this anthology introduces 21st-century readers to 26 professors from stories published between 1871 and 1933.

Most of these characters are likely to be new to even scholars of children’s literature; aside from Charles Kingsley, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, E. Nesbit, and L. Frank Baum, authors included are almost certain to be obscure to most American lay readers. Befitting the collection’s role as adjunct to Terras’ scholarship, many selections are mere excerpts from longer works. Some are so targeted to the depictions of the professor highlighted that any sense of narrative is entirely lost, as in the bits and bobs from four separate Little Jack Rabbit tales by David Cory. In these, readers meet professor Jim Crow, who mostly appears to read snatches from his “little Black Book” or “little Wisdom Book” to the bunny protagonist before flying off. Some short stories are reprinted in full, offering both some narrative satisfaction and fascinating glimpses into bygone times and mores. Readers will be astonished, for instance, at the implied workings of primitive telephony in Frank R. Stockton’s “The Curious History of a Message,” published in St. Nicholas in 1888. Also lending insight is the frequently “colonialist, racist and sexist” language preserved in many of these tales, which occasions both a blanket warning in the book’s introduction and specific warnings where appropriate in the contextualizing note that precedes each piece. U.S. readers sensitized to the demeaning association of simians with black people will remark that no such gloss accompanies the excerpt from Barrington MacGregor’s King Longbeard, featuring the foolishly self-important professor Entellus Hanuman Semnopithicus A.P.E.; it is also silent on the appropriation of the Hindu deity Hanuman to name this object of ridicule. Children are not the target or the likely audience of this collection, but caregivers moved to share this open-access work should take note.

For children’s-literature researchers after the eclectic and esoteric, the price is right.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9928581-7-9

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Fincham Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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