GATES OF EXCELLENCE

ON READING AND WRITING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

Several of Paterson's Washington Post Book World reviews, articles from The Writer, her award acceptance speeches, and some original chapters on her own writing and her thoughts on writing for young people—collected here, she says, for her adult readers, "not all [of them] librarians or teachers," just people who "have learned. . . truly how to read." Whoever these adults might be, they may well be interested in her revelation that she was a "weird little kid" (more accurately, a timid, uncertain outsider) and now writes for other weird little kids, and in her account of how she conceived and planned and progressed with some of her stories. (The Master Puppeteer began with a vivid dream.) However, readers seeking an award-winner's insights into the special nature of children's literature will find, as Paterson's title might indicate, only the usual solemn banalities: Children's literature is true art, not moral instruction; a sense of wonder is the greatest gift we can give our children; words are very precious; we must help non-readers to recognize that books are "friends who will enrich and broaden and give joy to their lives"; and we must give our children not slogans and platitudes (these apparently she reserves for adults), but "the life and growth and refreshment that only the full richness of our language can give." As for adult literature, "Fiction allows us to enter fully into the lives of other human beings"; "a season with Natasha and AndrÉ and Pierre may make us wiser and more compassionate people" (a dubious proposition); and, à propos of Agatha Christie, "we care desperately" who killed Roger Ackroyd. As for her own, "I cannot, will not, withhold from my young readers the harsh realities. . . but neither will I neglect to plant that stubborn seed of hope. . . ." (Besides hope, she lists plot, brevity, absence of "symphonic" complexity, and characters readers can care for as requirements setting "boundaries"—not limits—on juvenile fiction.) No doubt the separate items gathered here well served their original occasions. Reading them in one lump tends to clot one's consciousness.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1981

ISBN: 0140362258

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Elsevier/Nelson

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1981

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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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IN MY PLACE

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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