RaveThe Wall Street Journal... a highly enjoyable biography by Leslie Brody, a professor at the University of Redlands in California and the author of a 2010 biography of Jessica Mitford ... Ms. Brody’s engaging biography reminds us how fragile and serendipitous artistic beginnings can be, yet how mighty and enduring their endings.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalThe events are all related in deadly earnest, but there is what seems to be unintentional comedy in Ms. Collins’s choice of names for her minor characters ... Ms. Collins should be commended for conjuring Coriolanus and his grim surroundings in the relatively graceful past tense rather than the grinding present tense of the trilogy. She is not a subtle stylist, though, and in places the prose is so wooden that Katniss could fashion arrows from it...That said, Hunger Games devotees will probably be too busy relishing their return to Panem to care. Readers who enjoyed the details of gladiatorial game-making in the trilogy will find all sorts of satisfying explanations for why things developed the way they did ... One has the sense that Ms. Collins is in a hurry to get to her foregone conclusion. There is a point in the novel at which Coriolanus describes himself feeling \'like a marionette being jerked here and there by invisible strings.\' That’s a pretty good description of what happens to the reader of this exhausting book, already a bestseller.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalFor a broad cohort of readers, experiencing David Kamp’s history of the golden age of children’s television will be like spinning the dial on a radio set to pick up frequencies from childhood. As you turn the pages, songs and jingles from half-forgotten TV episodes start dancing through your head...If the tune brings happy associations, you’ll find much to appreciate in this affectionate chronicle of an exuberant cultural moment ... Whether it really nudged the needle of child literacy and numeracy is a question that Mr. Kamp touches on only lightly; his bias is toward affirmation, but this is not the book to consult for an exhaustive reckoning of monies spent and trajectories altered ... full of such nostalgic jolts for readers who grew up in those years. The book doesn’t paint a full picture of what happened, or what it all meant, but it makes the era a pleasure to revisit. And the songs!
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Pullman is a storyteller, not a lyricist; his writing is clear, clean and forceful, never striving for effect and all the more effective because of it. He’s also a man of ideas, which gives great savor to his work even if the ideas themselves are not universally congenial ... Mr. Pullman comes across as notably less hostile than in his earlier books to the notion, if not the exact description, of a divine benevolence.
Brian Jay Jones
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... fluid and enjoyable ... In this lively chronicle, Mr. Jones tackles the controversial elements of the Seussian oeuvre in a forthright way, setting them in the context of both the times and his subject’s own life. His is a temperate perspective that doesn’t spare Dr. Seuss the judgments of the present but that doesn’t calumniate him for failing to anticipate the demands of what was then the unknowable future.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"... yet this book too is a stunner. Devastating, demanding and deeply moving, Bridge of Clay... unspools like a kind of magic act in reverse, with feats of narrative legerdemain concealed by misdirection that all make sense only when the elements of the trick are finally laid out ... Grief and sacrifice lie at the heart of things, and we can feel it through Mr. Zusak’s writing even before we understand the story’s real contours... His style is like free verse, at once spare and dense with feeling and meaning.\
Anne Boyd Rioux
RaveWall Street JournalWhen Little Women first appeared, readers and reviewers were astonished by how new and original it was, Ms. Rioux writes. Most literature for children at the time was \'so stilted and pious that it failed to capture the attention of young readers.\' Alcott’s...prose, with its informal dialogue, came as something of a revelation. From the vivid, fire-lit opening scene, with the teenage Marches bemoaning their poverty and the prospect of Christmas without their father, each girl has a distinct voice that hints, as Ms. Rioux says, \'at her unique personality.\' ... the author observes, \'Alcott’s classic pointed the way not only toward girls’ future selves but also toward the future relationships they could have with men and with each other. She imagined her characters moving into a mature womanhood that achieves self-fulfillment as well as shared joys and responsibilities, a storyline today’s little women desperately need.\' She’s right about that. The thoughtful pages of Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy amount to a plea: Let us not forget these girls! We still need them.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] gripping, vivid and upsetting book ... The author also makes wonderful use in this book of what must surely be his most enchanting contribution to literature: the daemon...For the novelist, and for the reader, daemons add a rich textual dimension: betraying the dark heart of a smiling villain; creating the opportunity for dialogue when a person is otherwise alone; allowing a character to hear and see things that his human senses might miss ... 'I’m profoundly interested in religion,' Mr. Pullman has written, 'and I think it’s extremely important to understand it. I’ve been trying to understand it all my life.' That is the strange beauty, the fearful symmetry even, at the heart of his novels about Lyra. Philip Pullman is a Jacob, wrestling with an angel: He grapples and battles in the darkness, but he cannot let go.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn Turtles All the Way Down, Mr. Green shows the same writerly panache, but there is a bruised weariness in his principal characters that creates a more subdued experience for the reader ... This being a John Green book, the dialogue is snappy and sophisticated, and the characters invested with a sensibility, articulateness and aspirational range of reference that are so appealing to intelligent young readers ... Having wept through The Fault in Our Stars in both its book and movie versions, enthusiasts will want to know: Does Turtles All the Way Down offer the same sort of cathartic transport? It doesn’t, but perhaps it couldn’t. While there is tenderness and wisdom here, and a high quotient of big ideas, too, the stakes are lower, and so the drama is somewhat diminished ... There is arduous and unhappy turmoil aplenty in Turtles All the Way Down, but by the end readers ages 14 and older will find themselves, like Davis and Aza, in a place of hopeful ambiguity.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...a charming, discursive encounter with classic children’s literature from the perspective of a parent ... For parents who are embarking on this phase of rediscovery, for those in the thick of it, and for those for whom it is a warm and recent memory, Wild Things will be a delightful excursion. Mr. Handy writes with zip, sincerity and good humor. He has a gift for witty phrasing ... engaging and full of genuine feeling.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalTheir perspectives on Sendak’s work, juxtaposed with Mr. Cott’s own exchanges with the artist, illuminate Sendak’s books and psyche to remarkable effect. Enriched throughout with images of Sendak’s art, the book will be catnip for those who already admire him. Non-enthusiasts who never warmed to his more discomfiting books as children or, as adults, to either his work or his irascible manner may find themselves surprised, sympathetic and enchanted ... In this riveting account of Sendak’s vision, Mr. Cott captures the pain and glory of the creative process: moments of soaring grandiosity and times of grinding struggle, of words and images that won’t come or that come in the wrong way.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIf the measure of a good life story is the longing it leaves in the reader to have known the subject, this one more than succeeds ... what some readers may feel a weakness of the book: that only at the very beginning and very end of In the Great Green Room do we hear Brown’s own voice. Each chapter starts with a bit of her poetry, including some unpublished verses, which is something, but in following the events of her life, we are vouchsafed only Ms. Gary’s representation of her thoughts and feelings. Through a publicist, the author explains that she wanted to keep the reader 'in the moment with Margaret' and that the abundance of her sources made paraphrasing the best course. Still, we may feel a bit wistful, as we finish reading this fascinating account, that we weren’t able to get somehow even closer to the undoubtedly bold and brilliant Margaret Wise Brown.