The joys of joyriding in a battery-powered roadster (``EV'' for short), by Perrin (Environmental Studies/Dartmouth; Last Person Rural, 1991, etc.). Perrin decides to go electric after being grilled about his commuting methods by an ardent student-ecologist. He flies to California to take proud possession of an electric commuter-car—a Ford Escort converted through the addition of 18 batteries and a set of solar panels—and, in a moment of heady exuberance, decides to drive his EV the 3000 miles back to Thetford, Vermont. Perrin makes it as far as the Sierra Nevadas before the car's tiny range (sixty miles maximum between recharges) and sluggish pickup foil his plans. Undaunted, he leases a truck to tow his EV home. From then on, this amusing excursion into alternative energy doubles as a low-keyed road adventure. Instead of Thelma and Louise, it's Noel and Solo (``quite suddenly...I realized that this car was not an it but a he, and that his name was Solo''). Car and driver visit a flying-saucer factory, countless truck stops, and a car museum that houses an EV from 1899. Most people Perrin meets seem indifferent to Solo, although a few EV fanatics cross his path, as well as dissenters who worry that EVs simply displace pollution from the oil well to the electric power plant. Once home, Perrin tootles around in his clean, friendly machine; outwits a faculty member who accuses him of stealing Dartmouth's electricity; and looks forward to facing his environmental-studies class with a clean conscience. A needless digression on the evils of pollution; notions for improving an EV's range (gas/electric hybrids, better batteries); and a list of EV dealers, associations, and consultants wrap up the short, smooth ride. Laid-back EV propaganda that makes electric cars seem as much like pets as machines. We sense a film in here somewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1992

ISBN: 0-393-03407-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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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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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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