If childhood is magic, kids have created its principal enchantment by dreaming up their own games, writing their own rules, inventing endless variations on anything fun. Bottle Cap Soldiers, Kid Crusher, Ring-a-leavio, Chinaberry War -- no one remembers the scores anymore and the rules changed as often as the players, but the strongest and best memories of childhood grow from the games we played.
With this enchanting volume, Steven A. Cohen shares a collection of childhood memories from a host of stars, public figures, and writers, from President Bill Clinton and Al Roker to Jackie Collins and Rob Reiner. Novelist Brad Meltzer describes an ongoing series of increasingly lunatic dares he and his friends staged to determine the Craziest Kid in the World. Movie star Esther Williams remembers the dollhouse built by her father in the midst of Depression-era poverty, and the endless scenes she acted out with simple paper dolls behind its miniature walls. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss recollects a Wisconsin childhood in which his friends created a version of hardball called Five Hundred -- until they hit the ball into the zoo's elephant cage and the vast gray beast gobbled it down.
As varied as these tales are, together they create a marvelous picture of childhood freedom and imagination. As Maraniss remembers, "There were no adults acting out fantasies of being major league managers. Childhood was for children." In an age when computers, television, and soccer practice all compete for a child's attention, these stories recall a different time -- when free time was actually free.
We all have memories of the games we played -- memories so fond and so powerful that the events themselves could have happened yesterday. With this moving and hilarious collection, the simple joy of imagination introduces us again to the genuine magic of childhood.
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Reading this breezy collection of childhood reminiscences, one cannot help but feel a nostalgic tug on the pant leg. Cohen returns us to our most common denominator bottle-cap soldiers, lollipop gardens, stoopball splendid visions yet to be squeezed out by adult realities. Cohen, a one-time press aide to former President Bill Clinton and deputy communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton, has assembled a diverse gallery of voices, including those of his former bosses. Other contributors include actress Esther Williams, weatherman Al Roker, writers Jackie Collins and George Plimpton, actor Andrew Shue and baseball player Billy Ripkin, Cal's little brother. The imaginative games recollected here are without borders, producing a commonality so pure it could only be found in a child's head. Some writers reminisce in the mediums of their callings: former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky writes a poem called "The Game;" cartoonist Judd Winick depicts his childhood games in illustrated panels. Who would have guessed that broadcast correspondent Gwenn Ifill was raised in a West Indian household where the game of dominoes was a psychological arena in which her family "flirt[ed] with violence at the same table where we broke bread." And the prose often further humanizes the participants: a clich‚ here, a repetition there. Overall, this anthology is like pleasant dinner-table conversation, chatty and anecdotal, embedded with wistful smiles, and bound to unlock chambers in even the most grown-up hearts. Agent, Joe Regal, Russel & Volkening.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.From School Library Journal:
Adult/High School-This collection of writings about child-invented games makes entertaining reading for today's young people who, though frequently heavily supervised in free time for safety's sake, may be tickled to look back upon a wild, unstructured afternoon, when rules were created, broken, or enforced rigorously. In this gathering of such well-remembered games, poets, sports figures, entertainers, and politicians share brief chapters of spontaneous group activities, as well as individual free-time pursuits. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton recall neighborhood pick-up games of baseball and football and the more general joys of a kid's society. Gwen Ifill, the TV commentator, tells of vigorous family domino tournaments. Billy Ripken titles his recollections "Keeping Up With Cal." Judd Winick describes the thrill of possessing a Superman cape. Such recollections may echo fondly with teens, jogged to recall fence walks, food fights, acorn battles, or more leisurely pursuits.
Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0743201663