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Click to search this book in our catalog All About Me!
by Mel Brooks

Kirkus The madcap director, actor, and comedian adds another arrow to his quiver with this spry memoir. Brooks (b. 1926) has been dining out on the anecdotes in this book for decades. One, which Johnny Carson devotees may recall, is when Sid Caesar, for whom Brooks wrote in the 1950s, held him outside a high-rise hotel window until Brooks stopped complaining about the smoke in the room. “Sid said, ‘Got enough air?’ ” Brooks recounts. “In a very calm voice I said, ‘Oh yes. Plenty! I’ve had enough.’ ” Another is the author’s affectionate ribbing of his late wife, Anne Bancroft: “I think one of the reasons I married Anne Bancroft was the fact that her real name was Anne Italiano and, boy, could she make spaghetti.” There’s lots of delightful material, even if it’s well rehearsed. For example, Brooks recalls how he changed his name from Melvin Kaminsky—“which would be a good name for a professor of Russian literature”—by painting his mother’s maiden name, Brookman, on the drums he played as a teenager and running out of room at “Brook,” with just enough space for the final letter. The author’s anecdotes about early life in Depression-era Brooklyn are charming, as are his notes on the dawn of TV. He also dishes nice dirt on the making of his films, some of which seemed to proceed by accident: Dustin Hoffman was to have starred in the original version of The Producers but instead won the lead in The Graduate. Enter Gene Wilder. Richard Pryor didn’t show for History of the World, so enter Gregory Hines, with whom star Madeline Kahn had worked. Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman (“he more or less sees out the sides of his face like a horse”) earned roles in Young Frankenstein via a right-place, right-time agent. And so on. Though the book is sometimes labored, if you want to know about the making of “the greatest farting scene in cinematic history,” here’s your source. Fans of Borscht Belt shtick and classic comedies will enjoy Brooks’ stroll into the past. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Brooks is truly a legend of American comedy, and though it has taken him 95 years to write his memoir, it was certainly worth the wait. In a narrative filled with hilarious digressions, he discusses growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; serving in World War II; working as a writer on Your Show of Shows; meeting collaborators Carl Reiner, Anne Bancroft (to whom Brooks was married until her death in 2005), and Gene Wilder; creating Get Smart; writing and directing iconic films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein; and adapting his movie The Producers into a triumphant Broadway musical. Brooks has told many of these stories countless times over the years, but they remain as funny and endearing as ever, especially when presented in the full context of his life. It's a story told by an inveterate writer in a wonderfully conversational style, with a hint of childlike wonder at the things he's been able to experience and create, and a strong dose of humble bragging. But as Brooks himself would say, it's not bragging if it's the truth. VERDICT A must-read for fans of comedy, film, and theater.—Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In this laugh-a-minute memoir, actor and producer Brooks (Young Frankenstein) looks back at his rise through Hollywood, gleefully doling out punch lines along the way. He begins with his childhood in Brooklyn, where he lived with his older brothers and mother (“my first comic foil, and enabler”) and at school slipped into comedy like a well-worn glove: “I ... allowed to hang around with the bigger kids because I made them laugh... you don’t hit the kid that makes you laugh.” Brooks recounts his early days as a writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the 1950s; appearing in 1962 on the very first Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he shared the stage with Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Rudy Vallee, and Tony Bennett; learning how to bend the truth, after he told producer Joe Levine that he cut a scene from the end of his Oscar-winning film The Producers (“On every movie... since then; I’ve often lied when the studio objected to something by saying, “It’s out!”); and taking a giant leap forward as a director by writing “the greatest farting scene in cinematic history,” in 1974’s Blazing Saddles. Studded with snickering asides and rapid-fire jokes, Brooks’s account of making it in show biz is just as sidesplitting as his movies. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list The subtitle for Brooks' rose-colored autobiography could have been It's a Wonderful Life. Even events that might have distressed others get a positive spin. Left fatherless at an early age? More attention from his mother and doting older brothers. A stint in the army in his late teens in the closing days of WWII? An opportunity to hone his comedic chops. Every movie Brooks ever made was a hit (or at least broke even), and every cast and crew he worked with was the best. And maybe it's all true, because the ebullient Brooks' default position seems to be happy. It helps that he focuses on his career, so although his wonderfully talented wife, Anne Bancroft, is certainly mentioned, her death gets just a few sentences. He goes into depth about his own films and shows, but it would have been nice to hear more about the excellent movies his production company made, including The Elephant Man and My Favorite Year. Brooks is a national treasure who's not shy to admit it, and his laugh-filled memories mix with an optimism that fans will find almost contagious.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Brooks is legendary in comedy, TV, and film, and his upbeat memoir is just the sort of fun book many readers are seeking.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

Publishers Weekly Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: "[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look 'more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.-Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens Brother Authors inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together like a chain. Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: "[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look 'more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.-Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Addressing the appetites of readers "hungry for role models," this presents compellingly oratorical pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a "birthright of excellence." Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson "socked it straight / to the secretary of state," to Barack Obama, who "turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call," the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects' moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks' protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such "a hot-buttered way with words" that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was "more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck." (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens Brother Authors inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together like a chain. Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: "[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look 'more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.-Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Addressing the appetites of readers "hungry for role models," this presents compellingly oratorical pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a "birthright of excellence." Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson "socked it straight / to the secretary of state," to Barack Obama, who "turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call," the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects' moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks' protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such "a hot-buttered way with words" that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was "more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck." (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens Brother Authors inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together like a chain. Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces her subjects with powerful poems, before moving into image-rich, introspective, and candid descriptions of each man's influence on civil rights, culture, art, or politics: "[Malcolm X] thought carefully about some of the beliefs he'd held in the past, and how they supported the idea that he'd been brainwashed by whites. For example, straightening his hair was Malcolm's attempt to deny his black heritage by trying to look 'more white.' " Brian Pinkney's portraits of each man echo the multidimensional prose with their bold strokes and dynamic swirls of color. An examination of Barack Obama's life and presidential election carries readers into the present day, placing the achievements of those who came before him into perspective. Though the text-heavy format may initially daunt some readers, the inviting narrative voice and eloquent portrayal of these iconic men and the times in which they lived make for memorable reading. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-This book is similar in scope to the author's Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt, 2000. The subjects here include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama, all introduced in the author's characteristically lively prose ("Black students kept on keeping on with dog-eared textbooks and dog-tired feet"; Malcolm Little's hair was transformed from "pretty-boy cotton-kink to slick-daddy bone-straight"). The distinct experiences that shaped each man are ably delineated-the childhood events, the hardships faced, the richly deserved victories won-and the results are, without exception, compelling. The large font size is perfect for the middle-grade audience, but too many blocks of unbroken text may turn away less-confident readers. Thankfully, Brian Pinkney's magnificent portraits and spot art throughout each profile help to amplify each man's story. A must-have for all libraries serving young people.-Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Addressing the appetites of readers "hungry for role models," this presents compellingly oratorical pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a "birthright of excellence." Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson "socked it straight / to the secretary of state," to Barack Obama, who "turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call," the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects' moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks' protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such "a hot-buttered way with words" that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was "more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck." (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list In her extensive introduction, Pinkney explains how a visit to a creative-writing program made up of young black teens Brother Authors inspired her to write a testament to positive African American role models. She has chosen 10 men, and though each appears in his own extensive chapter, their accomplishments weave them together like a chain. Some are well known, like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Others, such as Benjamin Banneker, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, may be less familiar to today's young people. Pinkney uses an upbeat, sometimes colloquial writing style that kids will appreciate, and with chapters sometimes as long as 20 pages, there is often more information about a subject than might be found in a slim series title. Each chapter begins with an original poem and a Brian Pinkney portrait. Another two or three small pictures break up the long pages of text. Surprisingly, Pinkney provides no notes, even though she references both feelings and words in her biographies. For instance, she quotes Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather and his unhappiness over his son's marriage to Ann Dunham without any sourcing. While this is problematic, the book is still a handsome piece of bookmaking that does Pinkney's premise proud.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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