If Lawrence Welk had been a comedian, this is the book he might have written—pleasing for a certain demographic.



Family-oriented, family-directed humor from the longtime Prairie Home Companion head writer.

What’s a terrible place to take your family on vacation? Why, for one, “Vladimir Putin’s House of Fun.” And, for another, “Walmart.” Papa kids; he jokes; he japes, always within a G- (or, in daring moments, PG-) rated milieu. The formula is pure post-Keillor-ian Midwestern, Mort Sahl toned way down: Start with an observation (“men are ruthless and aggressive and powerful”), joke it away (“that’s how we kept wild animals from eating the children”), and then carry it over to a secondary observation (“this is why putting this animal instinct aside and acting like a ‘great guy’ is a fraud”) And again: “Fish are great. You always know where they are, you’re never going to find a fish eating out of your garbage, and they don’t jump up on the kitchen table and start licking plates.” It’s shtick, but within its own narrow confines, it works just fine. It’s not too challenging or too topical, and it draws people in with an in-on-the-joke “oh, yeah.” If you’re a parent, you’re already in on a big swath of Papa’s humor; it makes eminent good business sense, on that front, to buy into his idea of a restaurant for kids called Plain Pasta: “Anyone with a child would be making reservations months in advance, planning their birthday parties and ordering take-out.” No doubt. And no one with a child will contest the author’s position that of all the categories of relatives one might have, the aunt is the coolest. In small doses the groaners are great, but in larger ones—well, it’s like being around someone much older and forcing a smile to keep the peace.

If Lawrence Welk had been a comedian, this is the book he might have written—pleasing for a certain demographic.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14438-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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