Friday, May 15, 2009

The Side-Yard Superhero (Life in Degraff: An Automythography)

The Side-Yard Superhero (Life in Degraff: An Automythography)
Rick 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.

Imagine a place where everyone knows everyone, kids go to school with the same group from first grade through high school, a place where paperboys and paper routes still exist, and the highlight of your day is reading Dick Tracy comics and riding your bike with man’s best friend. For author and educator Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., this is not just an “Andy Griffith Show”-like dream, but a childhood reality.

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.

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

This a wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed! It is well written with great descriptions that made me feel as I was a part of the story. It made me long for a "slowed down" way of life. A time when it was safe for our little ones to ride their bikes through several neighborhoods alone and have paper routes without the worry something unthinkable happening to them. This book brought out moments of laughter as well as tearful moments. This is truly an extraordinary story by an incredible writer. We highly recommend this great read!!

The book is the first in a planned three book series about life in DeGraff. Can't wait to read the next two!!

Thanks so much to FRN for this great reading opportunity!


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