Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review ~ The Side-Yard Superhero

The Side-Yard Superhero (Life in Degraff: An Automythography), Author Rick Niece defines an automythography as ~

A work of nonfiction that looks reflectively at what we think we remember and how we think we remember it; an iridescent memory based upon truth and fact. R.D.N.

In his new book, “The Side-Yard Superhero” (Synergy Books, March 2009), Niece comically recounts his childhood experiences as a paperboy in small-town DeGraff, Ohio, and the special relationship he forms with Bernie Jones, a teenage boy with severe cerebral palsy. Taking the reader back to the small-town life of the 1950's and '60's, Niece shares the lessons learned from cherished friendships that still inspire him today.

A university president and true storyteller, Niece shares an assortment of childhood memories, ranging from the eccentric and humorous (the trendsetting Fern Burdette who only wore a brassiere from the waist up) to the heartwarming and poignant (the reclusive Miss Lizzie who made the best pumpkin bread in the Midwest) to the true bittersweet moments, including Dick Tracy comic lover and wheelchair-bound, Bernie Jones.

“Being friends with Bernie Jones was no different than being friends with any other boy in town. Although Bernie’s world was confined to a wheelchair, it did not stop him from being an intrepid daydreamer, adventurer and hero,” says Niece. “I learned more from Bernie on how to live life than from any other person.”

Raised in a town of 900 residents, Niece learned the true sense of community and trust, a theme that runs throughout his memoir.

“The memories I share in ‘The Side-Yard Superhero’ are about capturing a time of pure innocence and simplicity,” says Niece. “I wanted to write a book that appealed to grandparents and grandchildren alike, opening the dialogue about the time when life was simple and people were downright good.”

In an interview, Niece is available to discuss:
-Time of innocence: How to rediscover simplicity in a world of complexity
-How to teach your children to be responsible and respect others
-How childhood experiences affect us in adulthood
-Does small-town America still hold its charm?
-Finding superheroes in everyday life

With more than 40 years as an educator, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D. currently serves as the president of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark. He, along with his wife SherĂ©e, work to provide intellectual and cultural enrichment for the 675 students of the University, preparing them for graduate school and professional employment success as well as establishing lifelong values. Niece is currently working on part two and three of the “Life in DeGraff, Ohio” trilogy. For more information, please visit

My thoughts ~ I grew up in the 80's & 90's so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Niece's experience in the 50's & 60's. He has a writing style that pulls you in. Knowing that it is a true story, makes it all the more enjoyable. This is one of those books that everyone can enjoy from your grandparents, parents to your teens.

The way that Niece befriended a wheel chair ridden boy without a second thought gives you hope that humanity really is kind. With this book, it will hopefully inspire readers to do the same!

Regardless of when you grew up, The Side-Yard Superhero will take you back to your childhood. Watch out for a flood of all your wonderful memories. I highly recommend picking up this book, it is a wonderful read!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i don't believe small town America has to be "dead." it's the people of the towns who make it what it is, for good or bad. this book sounds like inspiration for bringing back small town America and for making an effort to get to know those in your community.

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