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J.K. Rowling (People in the News) by Bradley Steffens, poet, playwright, author, and speaker.


More Critical Acclaim for Bradley Steffens

J.K. Rowling (People in the News). From School Library Journal: At last, a biography that contains some real information about the popular author. A three-page introduction focuses on the success and impact of the "Harry Potter" books. Steffens then turns his attention to his subject's early life, education, and first few jobs. The next chapter provides background on the plot, setting, and characters found in her famous series, as well as the inspiration and some of the thought processes that went into their development. The third chapter continues with Rowling's life. The author then focuses on her writing and, of course, on her tremendous commercial success. The book concludes with a discussion of the movie and speculates on what Rowling will do after the "Harry Potter" series is completed. Most libraries will want to add this competently done title.—Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL

Censorship (Overview Series), Horn Book. A thought-provoking survey that includes historical background, legal perspectives, and contemporary social implications. The book excels at explaining paradoxes and often difficult distinctions between individual and group rights.—The Horn Book

Censorship (Overview Series), Booklist. Using a historical approach, this discussion looks at basic principles of free speech and free press in relation to landmark cases. Steffens starts with the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Bill of Rights, and then takes the survey right up to the recent arguments about violence and obscenity in popular music. Whether dealing with racism or antiwar activity, he demonstrates the basic paradox that “freedom and censorship can—and must—coexist.”—Hazel Rochman

Censorship (Overview Series), School Library Journal. This book introduces all aspects of its topic and leads students to additional sources for further information. Interestingly written chapters are short but comprehensive. Steffens presents a historical overview, then deals with rights in conflict; how time, place, and manner help to determine the exercise of free speech; and explores the issues of incitement, fighting works, obscenity, and compelling interest. Balanced introduction to a thought-provoking subject.—Marilyn Makowski, Greenwood High School, SC

The Trial of Charles Manson (Famous Trials Series), School Library Journal. Focusing on both sides of this high-profile case, the authors present testimony and excerpts from Manson's two-hour statement made from the witness stand to help readers sort out the facts and the individuals involved. The bulk of the book is a detailed account of the trial of Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten. It describes Manson's desire to represent himself and the ultimate denial of that request, and the ways the defendants attempted to interrupt the trial before being found guilty. This title will be useful to students writing reports as well as those interested in famous cases. The index is thorough, and an epilogue describes what has happened to the convicted killers.—Tracy Ansley, formerly at Cary Academy, NC

Cartoonists (History Makers Series), School Library Journal. Beginning with a history of cartooning and the place of cartoons in popular art today, Steffens looks at the lives and careers of six individual artists. Charles Schulz, Chuck Jones, Garry Trudeau, Cathy Guisewite, Matt Groening, and Scott Adams are profiled in the 8-to-14 page entries. Discussions of each cartoonist’s work are supplemented and authenticated by quotes from scholars and contemporary observers of the time. The writing is clear, unbiased, and interesting.—Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA

The Children’s Crusade (World Disasters Series), School Library Journal. Offering background on earlier religious journeys and medieval beliefs, this volume sets the Children's Crusade in context and gives insight into the culture that produced it. The clearly written text serves students writing reports, and the index allows reasonable access for those who want to skip the historical background. This is a solid introduction to a period that, although mentioned in more general works, is relatively sparsely treated for this audience.—Ann Welton, Thomas Academy , Kent, WA

Emily Dickinson (Importance Of Series), School Library Journal. This engaging narrative succeeds in bringing to life one of literature’s most elusive and controversial figures. Steffens emphasizes and celebrates Dickinson 's elaborate differences, not only from her creative peers, but also from her family, friends, and contemporary culture. Using a combination of her personal history, psychological influences, religious explorations, and creative processes, the volume pieces together an intricate and cohesive story of both the woman and her work. The content is accessible and clear. The attempts to present a variety of unbiased interpretations of the poet’s life and her work set a positive example for readers learning how to interpret and critique. The universal questions that Dickinson asked and the effects that her questions continue to have make this text a valuable asset to most collections. —Kate Foldy, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

Free Speech (Opposing Viewpoints Juniors Series), School Library Journal. This book discusses the different viewpoints about the limits of free speech and issues of censorship. Propaganda techniques are explored and critical thinking activities are included to help readers discern facts from opinions. The list of further reading is excellent —Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA

The Free Speech Movement (American Social Movements), School Library Journal. A well-balanced exploration of the subject. Grouped into broad chapters such as “Philosophical Origins,” “Landmark Supreme Court Decisions,” and “Free Speech as a Social Movement,” the articles and essays are arranged to reflect the breadth and depth of the topic. Pieces from John Milton and John Stuart Mill are juxtaposed with more modern ones by Nat Hentoff and William Brennan, Jr. More recent contributors debate the merits of filters for the Internet or how speech is regulated on college campuses. Students looking for both the origins of the concept of free speech as well as its current benefits and conflicts will find what they need here.—Carol Fazioli, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Gwynedd Valley, PA

The Free Speech Movement (American Social Movements). From Children’s Bookwatch:  The Greenhaven "Contemporary Issues Companion" series of nonfiction discussions holds plenty of detailed arguments and discussions perfect independent study and highschool classroom curriculum enrichment. Bradley Steffens' The Free Speech Movement surveys the promise, limits and potentials of free speech, with articles discussing both civil rights and social liberties issues and the rights of states and regions to determine free speech issues.

Medusa (Monsters), School Library Journal. These four volumes describe the mythological and legendary origins of each monster, as well as representations of the creatures in modern film, television, and toys. For example, in Medusa, readers learn of the ancient Greek myths about the Gorgon sisters, the story of Perseus killing Medusa, sculptures and paintings featuring this snake-haired creature, movies such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and Clash of the Titans, and the computer games Hercules and Age of Mythology. Numerous full-color and black-and-white reproductions of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and movie and television stills are placed carefully in the appropriate spots within the texts. A flaw in each of the books, probably of more importance to adults than to young readers, is the incomplete credits for most of the illustrations. The books are clearly written and contain fascinating information that will satisfy both casual browsers and serious report writers.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA


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