Another centimeter-deep celebio from King (Madonna, 1991; Everybody Loves Oprah!, 1987, etc.), and one with no research acknowledgements, pointing up King's failure to land an interview with Hall or anyone close to him. As with Oprah and Madonna, King again chooses a subject whose big mouth supplies the author with magnetic filler for lending a sense of life here and there. Hall was born in Cleveland to an abusive Baptist preacher 20 years older than his wife, and today attributes his talk-show smarts to time spent watching his dad work the church crowd. A single child, Hall would stay up late to watch TV and found his real family of friends on The Tonight Show. Like Johnny Carson, he became a drummer and child magician. In high school, Hall was ever the class clown and, with his first tape recorder, seriously began interviewing classmates, much to the despair of their embarrassed parents. At Kent State, he brought down the house in his speech class when he announced that ``I plan on making my living with my oratory skills, and I'd like to be a talk-show host.'' In short, Hall was as born to the tube as Mozart was to the pianoforte. Hall began moving into the big time as a warm-up act for the Temptations, Dionne Warwick, and Nancy Wilson. His buddy Eddie Murphy drafted him into Coming to America as the hero's sidekick and, though the moneymaking film turned off most critics, reviewers singled out Hall's performance. Meanwhile, Hall had long seen a hole in late-night talk shows—blacks didn't get to chat with Carson as often as whites—so he chose to become ``bicultural'' on his late show. His self-definition: ``I'm just a guy from Cleveland. I ask real ordinary Midwestern questions.'' But he wears $900 suits. Mr. Stardust battles bad vibes from the critics and wins the moon. (Photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10827-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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