The bardic Welsh author and global navigator, who among his many mighty deeds has soloed across the Atlantic nine times (he's now in his mid-60s), finally abandons a task begun in Outward Leg (1986) and carried on in The Improbable Voyage (1987) and Somewheres East of Suez (1988)—and tackles an even greater challenge. In 1982, Jones lost his left leg to virulent gout. Finding himself among the disabled, he decided to do something so daring that all the world's disabled could take heart from it: He'd circle the globe in a trimaran. Three volumes of cresting over disasters have brought him thus far to Thailand and to the idea that his first idea was unsound. Few disabled folk can afford a boat like his; he needs to do something never done before by any sailor—an audacious, high-risk spiritual journey. In a small, cheap boat, he will cross the waterways of the Kra peninsula, which divides the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. With money from a magazine article, he buys an old wooden 38-foot-long Thai boat. He already has a young German mate, Thomas (who later dies of a heart attack), and rounds up a crew of disabled, three-limbed young Thais. Getting through to this crew is like grappling linguistically with Martians, though a great rapport at last awakens. They set sail from Phuket on heavy seas in the monsoon season, since only then will the dry riverbeds of the Kra have water. If they capsize, most of the three-limbed on board will drown, including Jones, who has never learned to swim anyway. Before they arrive at Bangkok amid cheering throngs along the river's edge (part of the journey was captured on TV), the crew makes 38 portages over rocky rapids, are hauled along by an elephant, arrested as Cambodian refugees, attacked by bandits, and so on, all the while with Jones's thigh rubbed to raw meat and his foot horribly infected. A mad crawl—but marvelous. (Nine maps.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-08022-7

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

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



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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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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