A refreshingly novel parenting method for teaching children not just to read but to write well and love doing it.

Helicopter parents take note: Mother and author Allyn (Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys, 2011, etc.), executive director of LitLife and LitWorld, sets forth a rigorous and, she argues, foolproof strategy for giving a child priceless gifts based on the stage-by-stage cultivation of top-level writing skills. These gifts include a reverence for words, a higher probability of academic success and a leg up negotiating adulthood. For parents, all it takes is time in abundance and years of highly focused effort. Start with plenty of storytelling and songs for newborns to 2-year-olds before moving on to shape-and-bake alphabet pretzels. Later, there’s a designated “writer’s corner” to which the young author can withdraw to muse privately or find his or her writing voice. Fifty remedies for writer’s block help make the words flow. Age-appropriate book lists (don’t look for classics) inspire children and parents along the way. Allyn argues convincingly that to make it all work, parents must be tireless writing advocates intent on forging a writing bond with their children—and the sooner, the better. She exhorts parents to understand that being well read and able to express opinions and feelings in writing is the bedrock of a good education, and is essential to self-discovery. All highly laudatory, but it’s debatable whether parents will have the time and the will to execute the myriad steps in the program.


Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 9781583334393

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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