MY OWN TWO FEET

A MEMOIR

Continuing her memoirs, begun so successfully in The Girl From Yamhill (1988), Cleary here covers the eventful years that began with her boarding a bus for junior college in California and ended with the publication of her first children's book in 1946. In between she attended the University of California at Berkeley, received a degree in library science, met Clarence Cleary (there is little doubt about the outcome of that romance), worked as a librarian in smalltown Yakima, Washington, in army posts during WW II, and in a book shop for four Christmas rushes in a row. With lively wit, Cleary recounts her many amusing experiences—such as her confusion over being told to count the "little brown things" in the bookstore before the arrival of the Little, Brown sales representative. She never minces words when describing her occasional failures or the strained relations with her parents. In the end, she writes the story of a boy named Henry Huggins; the rest—and we hope it's forthcoming in another installment—is children's book history. The writer brings the same verve to her own story that has made her fiction classic for nearly 50 years. In her, readers will find a character worthy of even Cleary's imagination. (Biography. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1995

ISBN: 0-688-14267-2

Page Count: 261

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys.

THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

The acclaimed author of Between the World and Me (2015) reflects on the family and community that shaped him in this adaptation of his 2008 adult memoir of the same name.

Growing up in Baltimore in the ’80s, Coates was a dreamer, all “cupcakes and comic books at the core.” He was also heavily influenced by “the New York noise” of mid-to-late-1980s hip-hop. Not surprisingly then, his prose takes on an infectious hip-hop poetic–meets–medieval folklore aesthetic, as in this description of his neighborhood’s crew: “Walbrook Junction ran everything, until they met North and Pulaski, who, craven and honorless, would punk you right in front of your girl.” But it is Coates’ father—a former Black Panther and Afrocentric publisher—who looms largest in his journey to manhood. In a community where their peers were fatherless, Coates and his six siblings viewed their father as flawed but with the “aura of a prophet.” He understood how Black boys could get caught in the “crosshairs of the world” and was determined to save his. Coates revisits his relationships with his father, his swaggering older brother, and his peers. The result will draw in young adult readers while retaining all of the heart of the original.

A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys. (maps, family tree) (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984894-03-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Clearly written, with heart and integrity, but lacking in substance: tasty but not very filling.

FOOD-RELATED STORIES

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Melian, a chef, activist, and former Test Kitchen Manager at Bon Appétit, begins this brief memoir by recounting clearing out the freezer and finding and eating one last helping of her mother’s signature fish dish following her death.

Sharing this precious meal with her brother connected them emotionally and physically with their mother one last time. In other vignettes, she ties her love of food to her happy childhood in Argentina; memories of cooking with her cousins at her abuela’s house and, in particular, her abuela’s ravioles de seso; the revelation of a sidewalk vendor’s hot pretzel that she ate following her arrival in New York City to explore a new path after studying journalism in Buenos Aires; and the physical and mental strength she developed after going into business to sell her empanadas. Melian briefly alludes to her work bringing free food education to inner-city public schools, but the stories she shares here are overall more personal and primal—food as sustenance, not as a vehicle for social justice—which feels like a missed opportunity. She also references in passing the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated industry where being Latina and speaking English with an accent affected how she was treated. Each of the individual anecdotes stands alone, without a narrative arc connecting them, but the descriptions of food are rich in sensory detail.

Clearly written, with heart and integrity, but lacking in substance: tasty but not very filling. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-22349-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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