All Creatures Great and Small Essay - Critical Essays

James Herriot

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction All Creatures Great and Small Analysis

All Creatures Great and Small is not an autobiography in the traditional sense of the word. It is the memoirs of James Herriot from his years in practice as a veterinarian, and it is the first in a series of books in which he describes these years spent in the Yorkshire countryside of England. He uses a pseudonym and changes the names of characters to protect his privacy and that of others. The village described in the books is not actually named Darrowby, but it is really in the Yorkshire region of England.

Herriot’s realistic depiction of his work in All Creatures Great and Small makes the book interesting and educational for young adult readers. Herriot’s language is never overly scholarly, even when he describes technical aspects of his practice. He has the ability to use a balance of scientific terminology and everyday language, a fact that allows understanding without sacrificing accuracy. Herriot does not romanticize the practice of veterinary medicine. He is honest about the difficulties of the job as well as its rewarding aspects. His descriptions of cases are graphic and detailed, but not offensively so.

Herriot’s love of animals is abundantly evident. His warm and compassionate attitude comes through, making him particularly attractive to a young adult audience. His sense of humor is also quite evident. Humor frequently permeates even the situations that seem the most hopeless. Herriot regards the people he encounters with good humor that equals the sense of humor with which he presents himself, showing a love of people as genuine as his love of animals.

Herriot demonstrates great storytelling ability and is capable in his handling of dialogue. These two qualities combine with the interesting subject matter to make the work extremely appealing to young readers. He links episodes easily and in...

(The entire section is 761 words.)