THE MAGIC MAKER

A longtime collaborator provides an appealing portrayal of John Meredith Langstaff (1920–2005), the talented and passionate musician, charismatic performer and tireless researcher who created the combination of song, dance and drama known as The Revels.

The first Christmas Revels in Cambridge, Mass., in 1971, was an entertainment with medieval roots and a winter solstice theme grown from Langstaff’s interests in folk music and traditional dance. With his daughter Carol and other associates, he went on to develop community and seasonal celebrations of many different traditions and subjects. In nine more cities, from New England to the Puget Sound, professional and amateur musicians, children and adults, joined to offer annual performances combining mythic elements, ritual and enthusiastic audience participation. Cooper (Victory, 2006, etc.), the Newbery-winning author of The Dark Is Rising series, was a partner in many of Langstaff’s projects. Describing herself as “John's tame writer for fifteen years,” she explains that, late in life, he asked her to help him write a personal history going back to his choirboy childhood. Unfortunately, Langstaff died before they could complete their joint effort. For this “posthumous present to a friend,” she has interviewed colleagues and scoured her subject’s papers to produce a short, gracious and highly readable story of a man and an institution. Beginning with his early years in a family whose annual Christmas carol parties began before he was born, she covers his musical education, service and combat wound in World War II, teaching, performing and process of turning folksongs into children’s books. The second half of her narrative is a history of the Revels. This is a selective rather than exhaustive account, with well-chosen examples and quotations that convey the breadth and appeal of an extraordinary man. A loving remembrance and a special gift for all who have encountered Langstaff and his performances.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5040-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

MY HOUSE CHEF

: COOKING WITH LORY AND MAZEL

This highly original children’s cookbook is full of delicious and imaginative recipes, but could benefit from adding healthier and lower-fat alternative recipes.

Whether it’s a beef-filled zucchini boat riding atop a sea of blue spaghetti or fudge cars with gumdrop wheels and lollipop passengers, these fanciful recipes are sure to tempt children. Lory and Mazel are two cartoon mice who guide the reader through the book, donning various costumes according to the theme of each recipe. Children will love the mix of photos, cartoons and colorful graphics. Though many recipes include healthy ingredients, many also contain heavy cream and/or sugar, and white bread is the preferred choice over wheat. A great addition would be healthier versions of these dishes, listing the percentage of daily recommended vitamins, and number of fat and sugar grams in each. But there’s more to the book than simply recipes–a chart lists the approximate recommended serving sizes for children from ages six to 12 in clever, kid-friendly terms. For example, one serving of grain would be half a medium bagel or approximately the size of a hockey puck. Vidal explains the metric and imperial systems of measurement, and gives a lesson given on vitamins and the effect they have on our health. The author also includes a page identifying various kitchen utensils in charming illustrations. For children–and adults–who are flummoxed about proper place settings, there’s a diagram explaining the function and placement of each plate, bowl and utensil. The recipes provide illustrated step-by-step directions, pointing out techniques which may require parental help or supervision. Parents seeking a quick dinner or snack should be forewarned–many of these recipes not only require mixing food colors, but involve some complicated assembly.

A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-7697-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A compellingly investigated, relentlessly gloomy report on the drug distribution industry.

DREAMLAND

Discouraging, unflinching dispatches from America’s enduring opiate-abuse epidemic.

Veteran freelance journalist Quinones (Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, 2007, etc.) cogently captures the essence of the festering war on drugs throughout the 1990s. He focuses on the market for black tar heroin, a cheap, potent, semiprocessed drug smuggled into the United States from Nayarit, a state on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The author charts its dissemination throughout American heartland cities like Columbus and Portsmouth, Ohio, home to a huge, family-friendly swimming pool named Dreamland, which closed in 1993, after which opiates “made easy work of a landscape stripped of any communal girding.” Assembling history through varying locales and personal portraits, Quinones follows a palpable trail of heartbreak, misery and the eventual demise of seemingly harmless people “shape-shifted into lying, thieving slaves to an unseen molecule.” The author provides an insider’s glimpse into the drug trade machine, examining the evolution of medical narcotic destigmatization, the OxyContin-heroin correlation and the machinations of manipulative pharmaceutical companies. His profiles include a West Virginia father burying his overdosed son, a diabolically resourceful drug dealer dubbed “the Man,” and “Enrique,” a Mexican citizen who entered the drug trade as a dealer for his uncle at 14. Perhaps most intriguing is the author’s vivid dissection of the “cross-cultural heroin deal,” consisting of an interconnected, hive-minded “retail system” of telephone operators, dealers (popularly known as the “Xalisco Boys”) and customers; everything is efficiently and covertly marketed “like a pizza delivery service” and franchised nationwide with precision. The author’s text, the result of a five-year endeavor of remote research and in-person interviews, offers a sweeping vantage point of the nation’s ever expanding drug problem. Though initially disjointed, these frustrating and undeniably disheartening scenarios eventually dovetail into a disturbing tapestry of abuse, addiction and death. Thankfully, for a fortunate few, rebirth is possible.

A compellingly investigated, relentlessly gloomy report on the drug distribution industry.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1620402504

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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