More brief encounters in the wild and not-so-wild outdoors by Swain, Horticulture magazine's science editor (Field Days, 1983, etc.). Swain's topics run from childhood reminiscences of horse chestnuts and dime-store turtles to on-the-scene descriptions of leatherback turtles coming to shore in Costa Rica to lay eggs. There, the turtles are observed by the watchful eyes of biologists, but also by local natives eager to snatch the booty for its touted aphrodisiac powers. The author's approach to all this is sort of laid-back gentle. While he is clearly an avowed conservationist who sees the threat of development and exploitation laying the world to waste, he is not about to lecture the natives on their superstitions. He is ecstatic about the birds and the blueberries on the New Hampshire hill that proliferated once the trees were cut down. His admonition is to ``take time out to see what is happening''—``change cannot be halted, but it can be redirected,'' he says in an essay on walking the boundaries of his New England farm. Elsewhere, he glorifies bogs, with their richness of peat to be harnessed; cites the virtues of bats (and why they like attics) and the charms of honeybees as pets; and muses about the comfort of coming back to America and why we like high places and slow boats. Probably one of the oddest pieces is about making a comb; Swain delights in detailing how the process started with the felling of two trees, a black cherry and a red maple. All in all, comforting reading for the hammock or the back porch.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 1991

ISBN: 0-316-82471-2

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1991



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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