Inspirational and heartwarming.



Now living in Illinois, 20-year New Orleans resident Tisserand recalls a community’s effort to make sure their kids got a decent education in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Along with other families living in the district served by the popular public school Lusher Elementary, the author, his wife and two children fled west to the small bayou town of New Iberia. When he heard it might be six months before anyone could return to the city, journalist and editor Tisserand grew concerned for his children, wondering how they would continue getting proper education. He got together with Paul Reynaud, a beloved first-grade teacher who had left a career in the restaurant industry to work at Lusher, and hatched a plan to open an interim school, christened Sugarcane Academy, at an old accounting office in New Iberia. With misery and death all around them, Reynaud focused on the positive in his teaching: The children planted seeds, wrote in personal journals and toured nearby sugarcane fields. Writing with the same warmth and humanity that distinguished his ASCAP Deems Taylor Award–winning The Kingdom of Zydeco (1998), Tisserand offers tender, revealing profiles of Reynaud, his fellow volunteer teachers and others affected by the evacuation. The author also recounts his visit to observe the dire conditions inside Lafayette’s massively overcrowded Cajundome, one of the many “sports-facilities-turned-shelters” stretched across Louisiana. By early November, when some families returned to New Orleans, the Sugarcane Academy followed and continued flourishing at Loyola University. Culled from his “evacuee journal” in the Gambit Weekly, an alternative newspaper Tisserand edited, the narrative highlights a displaced community that refused to be decimated.

Inspirational and heartwarming.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 0-15-603189-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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A quirky wonder of a book.



A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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