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The Wild Here and Now

A charming, thought-provoking walk in the woods.

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Charkes (Outdoors With Kids—Philadelphia, 2013, etc.) shares a collection of countryside-inspired essays, many previously published.

This compilation opens with a thoughtful examination of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, history as seen through the art of 19th-century folk painter Edward Hicks and the writings of William Penn. In this essay, Charkes suggests an essential human need to connect with nature (“Through wildness comes peace”). Most people, she says, are disconnected: “For many of us, we have to take a car to get to a place that looks anything like…country.” She then suggests a course of action: “To know the wild, look from where you are, listen from where you stand. Here and now.” Each chapter begins with pretty, relevant black-and-white illustrations by artist Priestley, who also provided the color cover art. Each of four chapters is devoted to a particular season, followed by an epilogue featuring the haunting song of the veery, a small bird that the author notes is still audible in the increasingly urban landscape. She pays careful attention to natural elements in a world where small farms “still form part of the fabric of the landscape, but nowadays they are embroidery, no longer the warp and woof of a living rural culture.” The carefully crafted, engaging essays seamlessly interlace Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau quotations with the unforeseen and whimsical. Charkes links the legendary Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski with the lowly dandelion flower and describes butterflies as doing “the insect equivalent of a pub crawl from one flowerhead to another.” With its minute, local detail, Charkes’ musings and gentle queries will resonate with all readers who wonder about the value of flowers and birdsong in an increasingly urban world.

A charming, thought-provoking walk in the woods.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615902142

Page Count: 170

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

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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

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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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