Harris, head of variety programming for CBS radio, tries hard- -with very iffy results—to provide unsophisticated listeners with an in-depth introduction to Mozart's life and work. After some predictable opening remarks about Mozart's genius and personality (a ``titan charming the gods''), Harris leaps right into matters of musical theory: the basics of rhythm, meter, melody, harmony; the sonata-allegro form as exemplified by Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; close-textual score-reading. (``Do you see that C sharp that sneaks in at the end of bar 21 in the first violin part?'') Most nonmusicians will be lost, even if they listen (as directed) to a recording while reading. Consistently, in fact, Harris mixes overdemanding musicology with a patronizing tone as he offers close-ups of a half-dozen major instrumental works: ``Don't be frightened by a large work like a concerto....Think of this opening to the piece as if it were the opening to a TV mini- series.'' The detailed discussions of the great operas—Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, The Magic Flute—are less technical and more involving, though not particularly fresh or forceful. And the chunks of biography scattered throughout are modestly entertaining and informative, if occasionally simplistic and graceless. (Gratuitously, one of Mozart's most graphic scatological letters is quoted in full.) With, as an appendix, brief appreciations of Harris's ``personal selection of Mozart's Top Fifty works'': an only sporadically effective music-appreciation class—often too dense for beginners, too spoon-fed for serious music-lovers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-75092-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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