Access to family archives and new material provides the basis for a worthy history of little-known artists.




A biography focuses on two prolific and award-winning 20th-century illustrators.

In this work, Cook (Walking Portland, Oregon, 2013) explores the lives and work of Elmer and Berta Hader, artists who produced dozens of picture books, including the winner of the 1949 Caldecott Medal. The volume follows the Haders from their first meeting in 1915 San Francisco (Berta stored Elmer’s painting equipment so he would not have to carry it up Telegraph Hill every day) to Greenwich Village, where they married after Elmer’s return from war, to the idiosyncratic stone house they designed and built themselves in a bucolic Hudson River village. The Haders were part of the writer-artist communities in both San Francisco and New York, and authors Rose Wilder Lane and Katherine Anne Porter were among the frequent weekend guests at their home. Cook also follows the evolution of the Haders’ careers, which became closely entwined after their marriage, as they moved from magazine illustration to children’s books, eventually creating their own in addition to illustrating the words of other authors. The biography examines their work within the broader context of the growing interest in children’s publishing in the first half of the 20th century as well as the impact of the consolidation and mergers in the industry in the 1960s and ’70s. Thanks to Cook’s examination of family archives and a trove of items discovered by a later owner of the stone house, the book is full of insights into the Haders’ blend of bohemian artistry and Depression-era thrift. (After finding a spider in a window, “the Haders fed him flies, thought the web a work of art and said spiders bring good fortune and Elwell brought them luck.”) Although the work restricts itself largely to summaries of the Haders’ books, rather than offering literary or artistic criticism or an analysis of their contemporary relevance, it is still a valuable contribution to the history of children’s literature as well as an enjoyable and well-researched story about two artists devoted to their work, their friends, and each other.

Access to family archives and new material provides the basis for a worthy history of little-known artists.

Pub Date: June 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-934961-05-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Concordia University Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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