Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line.

The Newbery medalist offers a combination memoir and guide for aspiring writers.

As a young boy in 1962, Paul Fleischman, son of children’s author Sid Fleischman, is introduced to a larger world of storytelling with his shortwave radio. Listening to broadcasts from around the world opens him up to cultures beyond white suburban Santa Monica. As part of his father’s research for a book, the family purchases a printing press to be assembled at home, an experience that is an early influence on Paul’s road to becoming an author himself. One of his first experiments as a writer is an outlandish, rogue newspaper he and his fellow classmates produce and distribute under the radar of high school administrators. High school is followed by a spell of wanderlust, including a short stint at UC Berkeley and a bike ride up the West Coast to Vancouver that capriciously lands him first in New England and ultimately in Albuquerque. Vignettes with writing advice, sometimes only tangentially connected to the adjoining chapters, appear sporadically and jar the narrative. Fleischman’s story reads as a remarkably engaging memoir but less successfully as a writing tutorial. At times, cultural references may be lost on younger readers, such as roller derby, Shirley Temple, and Marxism, and they may wish for more context.

Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line. (Memoir. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285745-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019



As in their previous collaborations (Colors of Freedom, Voices of Rape, not reviewed), Bode and Mack portray an issue through the voices of children and adults affected by it. Bode (recently deceased) interviewed preteens, their parents, and adult experts, and organized their responses into parts "For Girls and Boys" and "For Parents." In sections with titles like "Public Recognition" or "What's in Your Heart," her text, addressed directly to the reader, synthesizes many of the responses in a way that should comfort and challenge young and adult readers. At least half of the book is comprised of responses she gathered from her survey, some of which are illustrated in strips by Mack. The result is an engagingly designed book, with questions and topics in bold type so that readers can browse for the recognition they may be looking for. They will need to browse, as there is no index, and young readers will certainly be tempted by the "For Parents" section, and vice versa. A bibliography (with two Spanish titles) and list of Web resources (with mostly live links) will help them seek out more information. They may well have other questions—especially having to do with parents' sexuality—which they don't find answered here, but this is a fine and encouraging place to start. (print and on-line resources) (Non-fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-81945-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001



From the Sterling Biographies series

More a historical narrative than a character portrait, this account of Tecumseh’s efforts to create a tribal confederacy in the Old Northwest focuses on the great Shawnee leader’s many battles and negotiations with then–Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison and then his disastrous—ultimately fatal—alliance with the British during the War of 1812. Replete with side essays on such varied subtopics as the Northwest Territory, the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12 and the Battle of Lake Erie, it also boasts often–full-color illustrations from archival sources (many of these later paintings and old prints that are inaccurate, as the discursive captions often rightly note, and sometimes too small to make out anyway). In all, this will provide students a coherent view of events if not a clear understanding of Shawnee culture or Tecumseh’s heroic personal qualities. If it's not the 100-page holy grail of middle-grade biographies, it is still pretty close. (glossary, bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6847-7

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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