Just about as ephemeral as a Trump’s noxious emissions.

A CHILD'S FIRST BOOK OF TRUMP

Like an orange potato with arms, legs, and windblown blond hair—and, of course, a big mouth—Americus trumpus is explicated for a putative child audience.

Like Go the Fuck to Sleep before it, this is no “child’s first book,” despite the format. Yes, it rhymes, and yes, it has pictures, but this is full-on political satire that’s about as subtle as, well, its subject. Black (Navel Gazing, 2016, etc.) adopts Seussian rhythms to describe “this strange beast you keep hearing about,” while Rosenthal likewise emulates the good doctor’s palette and line. “The beasty is called an American Trump. / Its skin is bright orange, its figure is plump; / Its fur so complex, you might get enveloped. / Its hands are, sadly, underdeveloped.” Here the white-coated professorial narrator points to a labeled diagram. And so the book goes, plucking almost every possible piece of low-hanging fruit. A Trump loves cameras; it eats cash. “I’ve won each and every game that I’ve played,” it declares, clutching an Oscar statuette, a taco-eating trophy, and a first-grade attendance trophy. There are debate victories and the wall, paid for “using another’s dinero.” Rather oddly, the book counsels readers to defeat the Trump not by going to the polls (or encouraging their parents to) but by turning off the TV, for “ignoring a Trump is a Trump’s biggest fear.” There are certainly chuckles to be had in this book for readers of the blue persuasion, and it’s probably no coincidence that Rosenthal depicts most humans as various shades of blue. Except for the wall, however, Trump's racism is entirely absent, and none of those blue figures, even those seeking refuge at the Canadian border at book's end, is wearing a headscarf or otherwise obviously Muslim. In the end, this is something of a one-joke pony that can’t compare to its inspiration’s seemingly endless capacity for self-parody and doesn't go nearly as far as it could or he does.

Just about as ephemeral as a Trump’s noxious emissions.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8800-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2016

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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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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