Stone rows his boat into a work of art.

ON THE WATER

DISCOVERING AMERICA IN A ROWBOAT

In an impeccable piece of travel-writing, newcomer Stone travels by rowboat on a course that turns the eastern US into a big island that he transportingly circumnavigates.

“I had plain adventure in mind, to be sure,” he declares, “to live by my wits and material minimums.” The adventure is to row up the Hudson, through the Erie Canal, and on to the Allegheny (after the briefest of portages), then down the Ohio and Mississippi to the Gulf, around Florida and back up the coast to Eastport, Maine, at the Canadian border. Though he was raised around water and his father was a crack rower, Stone is no professional: he’d never even pulled the oars of his 17-foot scull until the morning he set off from Brooklyn, and it wasn’t until Pittsburgh that he got important tips on technique and equipment. But once afloat, he gradually settles into a comfortable rhythm that includes the nightly chore of finding a place to sleep, whether that means pitching his tent (to say the trip was done on a shoestring might be an overstatement) or accepting the generosity of people he meets. In recounting his voyage, Stone uses words freely yet with a poem’s compression, a coiled energy deftly released, as when he describes the mechanics of the rowing stroke or the correct pronunciation of Atchalafaya (“one easy breath, ‘Chuff-uh-lye’”). There are enough snafus and mistakes to keep him human, and while his encounters with people are mostly pleasant and frequently revealing about the place, there are a few ugly moments as well, including the time he was invited to join a picnic gathering and then, for no discernible reason, summarily evicted (“GET OFF THIS PROPERTY. NOW!”) by the patriarch of the group. Throughout, he keeps his sense of the journey’s importance in perspective with an engaging combination of innocence and opinion.

Stone rows his boat into a work of art.

Pub Date: July 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-7679-0841-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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