ON MY OWN AT 107

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE WITHOUT BESSIE

From Sadie, the surviving Delany sister, an inspiriting testimony to love and faith as she recalls life with Bessie and the challenge of learning to live on without her. With coauthor Hearth, who first brought the remarkable African-American Delany sisters to public attention in 1993 with their bestselling memoir Having Our Say, Sadie now describes the year following Bessie's death in September 1995. The two had been together since their distant childhood in North Carolina and all through the long remaining years in New York. As the older sister by two years, she never expected to survive Bessie: ``It doesn't seem natural that I outlived you . . . learning that I am a separate human being . . . for the first time in my life.'' But in the months ahead, Sadie does learn how to endure on her own and how to find pleasure in living. Summoning up the same religious faith that carried her through the worst excesses of Jim Crow legislation, she offers her memories of Bessie, and the conviction that Bessie is in heaven with their parents as a consolation for her grief. She punctuates her account of the passing year with comments on the flowers Bessie loved and cultivated in her garden, comforting quotations from the Bible, and what she's learned about life: ``To make the best of life, to keep trying, no matter what.'' But the same zest that made the sisters centenarian celebrities also enables Sadie to make a fulfilling life on her own. She starts writing this book, educates the young about the past, gives a party to celebrate Bessie's birthday, and is honored in turn on her 107th birthday. By the year's end, she's busy and content: ``Don't worry about me, Sister Bessie. Child, I've got plans.'' A bracing reminder from an exemplary teacher that life, a rare gift, must be savored in the living. (illustrations, not seen) ($150,000 ad/promo; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-251485-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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