Allan W. Eckert Jane Manthorne - Essay

Jane Manthorne

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Allan W. Eckert] pays homage to a serpent of North Carolina [in The King Snake]. Physiological details … are included, but greatest emphasis is accorded the snake's repeated battles for survival. The author's skill is in evoking such interest and compassion in the reader that he actually identifies himself with the serpent. In a complete reversal of roles the reader hopes that the snake will outwit his human captor.

Jane Manthorne, "The Ways of Wildlife," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1968 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. XLIV, No. 5, October, 1968, p. 578.

Oak Lake in Mr. Eckert's Wild Season is the setting for a day-by-day series of carefully informative adventures showing us the predatory habits of wild creatures. We follow the fortunes of many animals in turn, the link in most cases being the hunting and eating of one by another. Each creature gets its quota of textbook description ("that he was a male frog was evident by the tympanum, or ear … slightly larger than the eye and this was the single external sex-identifying factor"). Mr. Eckert is concerned with the harsh justice of nature and the "persistent interdependency of creatures"—elevated concepts, but what he has written is little more than a detailed study of cannabalism.

"'Wild Season'," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1968; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3475, October 3, 1968, p. 1123.