Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Arthur, for the Very First Time is the humorous story of a ten-year-old boy who learns to accept himself, his family, and his life. It is filled with charming and eccentric people and animals, such as an aunt who climbs out on a tree limb to leave a hank of her hair for a mockingbird to use in its nest and a chicken who sleeps in a crib and responds best when addressed in French. Patricia MacLachlan skillfully blends her unusual characters in a world that verges on fantasy but retains a unique and charming reality.

Arthur Rasby is miserable as summer begins. His parents are fighting, his friends are away, and his mother is pregnant. After Arthur deliberately makes his mother sick by asking for a pet rat, his parents take him to stay with Aunt Elda and Uncle Wrisby on their farm. Arthur is delighted there. The atmosphere is different from his home: He is able to choose whatever room he wants and is even able to pick the vegetables that he will eat.

The difference becomes even more obvious on his first morning there when Pauline, the chicken, awakens him. Shortly thereafter, Aunt Elda shows him a mockingbird outside his window, filling him with a sense of excitement about the interesting things that will happen during his visit. The adventures begin when he meets a young neighbor, Moira MacAvin, the granddaughter of Moreover, the veterinarian.

Moira gives Arthur the nickname “Mouse” and fascinates him with her...

(The entire section is 534 words.)