Perrin (First Person Rural, 1990, etc.) follows up his popular collection A Reader's Delight with a similar garland of essays on underappreciated children's books. Perrin is one of those rare grown-up literati who appreciate the joys and splendors that are peculiar to books for children, and this volume collects his appreciations of 30 such works. Most of those under discussion were written and published in the 20th century, which Perrin believes has been the golden age of children's literature. He has chosen works that he calls ``wonderful but little-known,'' although it is hard to imagine that The Story of Doctor Doolittle, The Borrowers, The Rescuers, The Railway Children, and Watership Down (to name but three of his choices) qualify as ``little-known.'' On the other hand, P.L. Travers's I Go By Land, I Go By Sea, Virginia Hamilton's The Planet of Junior Brown, and Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, among others, sound like real finds. Perrin's great strength here, as in the previous book, is his ability to communicate enthusiasm in an intelligent, thoughtful way. He playfully and intently assumes a child's consciousness (he has two children and four stepchildren, so he undoubtedly has had ample practice), allowing readers to see what a child might value in the books he extols. He is also skilled in highlighting the themes that draw most of the works together, particularly a focus on the battle of the small and powerless against the big and strong, an understandable concern for children. Occasionally, he gets carried away with his own whimsy, and taken in large doses, the book is a bit twee, certainly not a problem afflicting A Reader's Delight. Despite the periodic lapse into cuteness, this is quite a delight itself and should send parents and kids alike scurrying to library shelves in search of Perrin's picks.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 1997

ISBN: 0-87451-840-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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



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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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