One from the Hart: A Memoir by Stefanie Powers (Gallery; $26.00; 272 pages)
Spunky, vivacious and charming are words that easily describe Stephanie Powers, the actress best known for her role in the television series Hart to Hart. Yes, her character on the series also matches up with these adjectives. Don’t be fooled by appearances or roles, for when it comes to intellect and curiosity, Ms. Powers leads the Hollywood pack. Her memoir, One from the Hart, is filled with fully developed recollections of a life lived all over the globe.
Although Powers’ formal education concluded with her graduation from Hollywood High School, readers will be treated to the best in grammar and word selection. Powers set out to make up for a lack of college education by committing to reading through the literature list for students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). With that goal accomplished, she has maintained a lifelong course in learning. Her curiosity and willingness to expand as a person has resulted in a remarkable memoir that is well-developed and engagingly narrated. This reviewer felt as though she had been included in the circle of friends that Powers has grown over the last several decades.
Yes, Powers is talented musically and as an actress. Yes, she is remarkably beautiful. Underneath this Hollywood veneer beats a heart that truly loves people and animals. Her actions speak for themselves for she is the driving force behind the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya. Given her enthusiasm for education, it is no surprise that Powers founded the organization to honor the efforts of her long-time love William Holden.
This engaging book includes photographs from Powers’ private collection that serve to document the remarkable events in her life.
A review copy was received from the publisher. Note: Hollywood High School, the home of The Pharaohs, also produced two notable actors who would come to be known to the world as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press; 22 pages; $14.95)
Leaves tumble, Kitten mews. Porcupine snacks, Chipmunk chews. Hummingbird sips, Caterpillar munches. Rabbit nibbles, Squirrel crunches. Fish gulps, Bear licks. Deer grazes, Raccoon picks. Beaver chomps, Frog zaps. Skunk slurps, Turtle snaps. Supper waits, Fireside greets. Door opens, Kitten eats.
This would make a perfect first reader for just about any child. In Kitten’s Autumn, we accompany a Calico kitten on her very first trip through nature’s wonders during the season known as Autumn. She discovers other animals, both friendly and fearsome, all of whom are feasting on whatever it is they eat. This kitten observes them all before returning to her home for warmth and a good meal.
Each double page is meant to illustrate a single sentence in a poem, and children will come to absorb the lesson that there’s a difference between being outside with nature and being inside one’s own home-sweet-home. The text and illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes (author of Kitten’s Spring) are both cute and charming. This one’s a winner, by all accounts – especially for curious cats and kids!
This review was written by Joseph Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review. This book is recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron (Tor Forge; $22.00; 320 pages)
“And the people who hide themselves/ Behind a wall of illusion/ Never Glimpse the truth/ Then it’s far too late/ When they pass away.” George Harrison (“Within You Without You”)
A Dog’s Purpose is a 320-page novel targeted for adults. This is a story of a dog named Toby who dies and is reborn as Bailey, then becomes the female Ellie and finally Buddy. It is a novel on the subject of reincarnation that will not convince anyone that it actually happens, but it’s told in a charming voice. The dog’s voice, no matter which of the four dogs is being portrayed (and regardless of age) is that of a non-threatening and generally naive pup which is why children will identify with it.
Had this been truly written for adults, it would have been better structured as a novella. It goes on too long to make the rather simple point that love between humans and their pets is always reciprocated. Any child who has loved stories like My Dog Spot will likely be enchanted with this one, but the adult reading it to a child is best advised to break it into 40 or so digestible bites.
Any they lived happily ever after, and were reborn again and again and again. Woof!
Take Away: This novel, sold as a childlike story for adults, is actually a long children’s story that might be read to children by adults. There are, however, dozens and dozens of great children’s books currently available, any one of which might be a better choice.
This review was written by Joseph Arellano. A review copy was provided by the publisher.