TO ANNABELLA PELICAN
Four Winds Press.
32 pages. $13.95. Ages 5-8.
A story of two friends that will be read and discussed by young children, "To Annabella Pelican from Thomas Hippopotamus" is warm and honest. Children will recognize the security of having a best friend, and the anger and loss of losing that friend. Annabella and Thomas do everything together -- bike, picnic, swim, find and bury treasure, and climb the Giant Slide, until Annabella excitedly reports that her family is moving away -- leaving Thomas alone.
Most stories follow the one who moves away, finds new friends, adjusts to new sights and experiences, but Nancy Patz concentrates on the one left behind with old memories and none of the excitement that comes with a new environment. As the illustrator as well as the author, Ms. Patz tells her story with the brush as much with as the pen. The tiny framed picture of Thomas reveals how diminished he is by the loss of his friend as vividly as the picture of the recovered hippo -- eating popovers and strawberry butter as he bursts from the frame shows that he realizes that he still has the love and pleasure of all the good times he and Annabella have had together.
This is the seventh imaginative and creative book by Baltimorean Nancy Patz. Her stories are real and make-believe at the same time, and always a joyful experience. Chicago police officer Abe Lieberman is a man facing big changes in his life. He is nearing retirement age. His daughter's marriage is rocky. The neighborhood he has lived in for decades is going through a dramatic change, and his wife wants to move. His synagogue is discussing a move to the suburbs. Even the Cubs are playing games at night. If that wasn't enough, Abe's partner, Bill Hanrahan, is battling alcoholism. Things become bleaker when one of their "street sources" is murdered -- a murder they could have prevented.
Stuart Kaminsky's "Lieberman's Folly" suffers from several problems. The most annoying is that the angst the characters suffer has been done so often. Lieberman's and Hanrahan's personal lives are simply not compelling. The Chicago backdrop is handled with deftness but writers such as Robert Campbell have been working that area for years.
Stuart Kaminsky has received accolades for two very inventive mystery series, one involving a 1940s detective, Toby Peters, and another a Moscow policeman, Inspector Rostnikow. With his prior successes, one would expect more than the cliche-riddled "Lieberman's Folly."
KNIGHTS WITHOUT ARMOR:
A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR MEN
IN QUEST OF MASCULINE SOUL.
Aaron R. Kipnis.
304 pages. $19.95.
The war of the sexes marches on. While another book published last month -- Susan Faludi's "Backlash" -- essentially contends that men continue to exclude women from power, "Knights Without Armor" insists that "We men don't feel nearly as powerful as you think we do!"
Psychologist Aaron Kipnis suggests that men are in many ways weaker both physically (more prone to autism, hyperkinesis and dyslexia) and psychologically (raised in schools that affirm "feminine traits" like orderliness and conformity but punish male drives like aggression and restlessness).
Mr. Kipnis' portraits of men who feel confused, inauthentic, lonely, frustrated and disappointed offer poignant support for his claim. But his analysis of how society victimizes men often is simplistic (he even blames circumcision in a section titled "The Wounded Penis") and his "New Male Manifesto," essentially a list of every noble character trait in Roget's Thesaurus, is as unrealistically Utopian as Robert Bly's.