TRAVELS WITH TED AND NED

Engaging fluff, as Catholic priest and former Notre Dame president Hesburgh (God, Country, Notre Dame, 1990) spends his first year in retirement poking around the world. The title is obviously modeled on Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, and Hesburgh occasionally approaches the Nobel Prize winner's intoxicating on-the-open-road air of freedom, but never his psychological complexities. In fact, most of the characters here remain nothing more than names; this is even true of Hesburgh's rather invisible fellow traveler, Fr. Ned Joyce, former vice-president of Notre Dame. The fun comes in the traveling itself, which holds no surprises but moves swiftly from sight to sight. First the pair take an RV on a 12-week cruise out west. They concelebrate Mass each day; visit friends; marvel at the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone. On a side flight to Alaska, the two fish for salmon and meet with bishops, professors, and Indians. Next stop is Latin America, where they dine with various national leaders, trap alligators in the Amazon, and wander the ruins of Machu Picchu. Here, the book briefly becomes more somber, as Hesburgh encounters survivors of Argentine political terror. After a short stop in New York for the Heisman Trophy dinner, it's all aboard the QE II as chaplains during a spin of the Caribbean, followed by an around-the-world cruise. Hesburgh reads Allan Bloom near the Panama Canal, chats with Ruby Keeler and George McGovern, finds Tahiti hot, India crowded, China awash in red tape (he's not strong on novel observations). Finally, the gung-ho travelers make it to Antarctica, where Hesburgh admires the penguins and argues, unsuccessfully, with a Polish bully who rejects his request to say Mass. Hesburgh justifies his lark with some words of encouragement to other retirees—few of whom could afford even a portion of these travels. This embarrassment aside, the excellent adventures of Ted & Ned prove a fine antidote to cabin fever.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-26681-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1992

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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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