A sweet, if occasionally hackneyed, book of advice for young girls.

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A GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE

A mother’s collection of bromides to her young daughter that centers on healthy emotional growth.

This life guide and memoir from Herman (Stories We Tell Ourselves, 2013, etc.) aims a set of life-rules at 7- to 11-year-old girls, along with stories that show these values in action. The author originally wrote the guide at the request of her then-8-year-old daughter, Grace, who wanted a book of advice like the ones that Marmee gives the March girls in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. Years later, Herman’s daughter rediscovered the guide, which served as the basis of this book. Initially, the platitudes about growing up and doing the right thing veer the book into vague, self-help territory. Its overstatement of the universality of the golden rule, for example, almost feels like a lecture. Herman’s advice becomes more nuanced as the chapters progress, beginning with a section that distills the golden rule’s fundamental requirement: empathy. A later section illustrates the importance of expressing all types of feelings, even if they aren’t positive ones. Herman allows room for girls to experience a range of emotions, rather than confining them to “good and happy” feelings. In other chapters, the author depicts situations that girls may find tough to navigate, using honest phrasing that shows compassion and restraint (“If people are angry with you…for saying “no” to something that’s bad for you, then these are people you will not enjoy having in your life”). She pairs the tidbits of advice with black-and-white illustrations, drawn by her husband, which show women of all ages at work, play and home, in both solitude and sisterhood. The book closes with some prescient tips on finding love, aimed at girls who are likely still in the awkward, crush phase of adolescence, yet on the cusp of dating. It provides young women with an adult perspective, even if, at times, it feels oversimplified. Overall, however, Herman’s book may help to ease readers into their teenage years, at a time when they want to be both independent and nurtured.

A sweet, if occasionally hackneyed, book of advice for young girls.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1632260208

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Thought Catalog Books/Prospecta Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

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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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