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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Robert Fulghum
Published by Villard Books in 1988
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


This is a delightful book. The author explains in the beginning how it came into being: his list of things he learned in kindergarten got passed around all over ("took on a life of its own") until one day a girl brought it home to her literary agent mother who called Fulghum and asked, "Do you have any more stuff like this?" "This book is the answer to her question," Fulghum says.

The book is a collection of vignettes, both philosophic and poignant. The ugly Indian who could dance, the shoemaker who put cookies in shoes he couldn't fix, and a menagerie of assorted humanity performs on these pages and in the life of this philosopher, IBM salesman, minister and, among other things, new author.

One Christmas season a young Vietnamese boy came to his door and said "Trick or Treat" and began singing one Christmas carol after another.

One day in the fall a deaf boy came by his house and offered to rake his leaves. He was speechless to respond to the offer because ha had decided this year to rake only half of the yard and let the leaves decorate the other half (by virtue of Mexican standoff with his wife). Finally he gave in to the raking, deciding that the kid was more important than his experiment with leaves.

Over and again R. F. 's attitude mirrors my own - his love of dandelions and other wild flowers coupled with his dislike of neatly cut grass, for example. Fulghum is one of the few authors I've read with whom I'm positive I could be good friends. His writing style is one that I could emulate - small vignettes of personal experiences wrapped in philosophy and grape leaves of sentimentality and served piping hot.

This book is like a book of favorite recipes. Where you go to find that special chicken casserole that you want to make for the holidays so you can re-savor the taste and aroma.

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