Friday, December 11, 2009

On the passing of Kirkus: A eulogy

Kirkus Reviews: 1933 - 2009

My goodbye:

Kirkus, I wanted to love you. I yearned for your attention, but you spurned me. You gave me no stars. You said a few good things about my first novel, but you didn't gush. In time I realized that was a good thing. If too many reviewers had gushed, I might not have pushed myself to produce better work the next time around.
I worked hard on the second book. Worked my poor fingers to cramps, and my back to aching. And did you give me a star that time? No. You withheld your affection, doling out a few little gift words like a tightwad who'd already overspent his budget in early December. No matter; I worked harder on the next book. I was determined to win your favor. Determined to get a star. I studied. I stayed up late. I read until my eyes dried and my contacts stuck. I developed a permanent squint.
My third book is almost done. I was giddy with excitement, sure that this, finally, would earn your smile. But you died before even getting a chance to hear my book's heartbeat.
I would dedicate this book to you but frankly I have a list of other people I owe more to. And people would think I was sad and desperate, carrying a torch for someone who, if I had been the one who died first, would not even blink.
Alas, Kirkus, I hold no grudge.
May you rest in peace, and may we meet again, someplace where fallen writers gather to argue about syntax, and where unkind words are drowned out by harpists. I do mourn your passing, even though you did not love me.


Book 1 quotes: "Part journal, part graphic novel, all fun (with echoes of Harriet the Spy)." -Kirkus Reviews
Book 2, Kirkus review:
(Audible sigh of relief, here, when this one came out, but then I celebrated -- though there's no star. I hoped book 3 would bring a star)


"Although Ellie McDoodle knows that moving means the end of everything good, her sketch journal (which, glumly, begins, “The End”) shows her gradually making a place of her own in her new house, finding friends and conducting a successful nonviolent campaign to improve the school-lunch situation. Ellie is lucky in her move; her house is roomy and her neighborhood full of young people who gather for evening group activities. This sequel to Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen Will Travel carries healthy messages: Ellie finds a new friend in the librarian; reading is more interesting than TV and video games; her new friend’s Down syndrome brother is just another piece of a complicated life; peaceful protest works. But readers won’t notice as they gobble down this fast read, enjoying the jokes and riddles, familiar situations and interesting instructions for group games and paper-folding woven into the story. An appendix includes an interview with the author and suggestions for making and keeping a sketch journal." --Kirkus Reviews

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