The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 293 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. O’Hagan writes in the third person, shifting perspective among multiple characters (sometimes within a single paragraph) and frustrating, until the very end, readerly attempts to uncover the “real story.” At the center of the tale is photographer Anne… [Read More]

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems; illustrated by the author. Hyperion Books, 2916. 32 pages; $17.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 4-8. If you’re on the lookout for every word that rhymes with “Nanette” and “baguette,” this is the book for you. Tucked away in the playful pile-up of rhymes (and it is quite the pile-up!) is… [Read More]

Ben-Gurion; Father of Modern Israel by Anita Shapira Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ben-Gurion; Father of Modern Israel by Anita Shapira; translated from the Hebrew by Anthony Berris. Yale University Press, 2014. 276 pages; $25.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. In the first four chapters of this biography, David Ben-Gurion is born David Green in Plonsk, Poland, travels to Warsaw to attend high school (only to be rejected for… [Read More]

Reading Like a Writer – All Writing Can Benefit From Clarity and Organization

I’m not fond of broccoli but I eat it anyway because it’s good for me. As a writer of nonfiction, I also do the writerly equivalent of eating broccoli. Midway through the January 19, 2017 issue of The New York Review of Books, I came to an article entitled “The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics” by… [Read More]

A Bittersweet Interview – Listen to an Interview with Connie Wooldridge and the Late Andrea Cheng

It’s been over a year now since my writer-friend Andrea Cheng died – too quickly and too young – of cancer. She wrote some marvelous books, some of which are reviewed on my website, and she gave me invaluable advice about my writing over the years I knew her. Quite a few years ago, Andrea’s… [Read More]

The Water Princess by Susan Verde Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Water Princess by Susan Verde; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016.  42 pages; $17.99 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 4-8. Gie Gie, a princess in her parents’ eyes, surveys her kingdom: the African sky, the wild dogs, the tall grass, and the dusty earth. Not part of her kingdom is water,… [Read More]

The Two Tims by David Elliott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Two Tims by David Elliott; illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo.  Candlewick, 2016.  32 pages; $15.99 (hardcover); reading level:  4-8. Tim and Tim (one with blond hair, one with brown) are best friends.  Until Tom comes along.  Blond Tim plays knights with Tom while brown-haired Tim sulks.  Brown-haired Tim crazy-dances with Tom while blond Tim sulks…. [Read More]

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Woodridge

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 340 pages; $14.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Two narratives from two time periods unfold concurrently in this impressive first novel: The first is the story of Francis and Viola Turner, who marry in 1944 and migrate north to Detroit; the second story reaches forward to… [Read More]

Work in Progress #28: A Reconstruction of My Emily Post Biography

After my agent read my latest draft of Emily we had a long phone conversation. I still had more work to do. I needed to begin in medias res (in the middle of things), I needed to get to the significant part of Emily’s life more quickly, and I needed to shorten even more. What… [Read More]

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough; Simon & Schuster, 2015. 320 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This is McCullough’s tenth work of nonfiction and he has acquired a well-deserved reputation for turning impeccably researched facts into enjoyable narratives. This latest book is not a birth-to-death biography of the Wright brothers (it ends in 1910,… [Read More]