Two prolific writers for children offer advice on the writing process for young writers. In an engaging, informal style, Mazer and Potter cover the range of writing concerns, from getting started, creating characters, writing dialogue, finding a narrative voice and revising. Clearly the authors had fun compiling their tips, and original metaphors and images for the writing process keep things light: “Mental compost” is the fertile soil of the imagination, the “overflowing toilet” comes from having too many ideas and 300-pound drafts are what students lug around when enthusiastic teachers burden them with too many required steps in the writing process. This volume runs that risk, too, with so much well-intentioned advice that it could become daunting, but Phelan’s illustrations, “I Dare You” sidebars that encourage students to try out ideas and the authors’ own models of their writing help keep the format light and engaging. Young people who have already written a fair amount will best be able to see the value of the advice and will feel as if they have been allowed into a friendly conversation with masters of their craft. The best of recent volumes on the subject. (introduction, appendix) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-514-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.



Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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