Barbara Corcoran Ann Gebhard - Essay

Ann Gebhard

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A recipe for an entertaining junior novel might well read: take one adolescent heroine, add a light touch of romance, combine well with an exotic character, locale or situation, and season with a current problem.

While any formula has its limitations, it also affords gratifications. Such a novel is Titania's Lodestone. At fifteen, Priscilla Parkins has never known a permanent home. Her thoroughly individual parents, Paul and Titania, have chosen a lifestyle that involves travel in Europe and frequently identifies them as hippies. Priscilla's more conventional values create conflict within her family…. The novel is highly recommended for its sympathetic characterization of the parents and its portrayal of a loving, if off-beat, family…. (pp. 421, 423)

In Meet Me at Tamerlane's Tomb, Hardy Harlow, a dumpy but enterprising fourteen-year-old traveling with her family in Russia, simultaneously dreams of Paul, the hotel drummer, and uncovers a drug smuggling plot. Ancient Samarkand, peopled with modern Russian secret service agents, is an exciting backdrop for the story; the characters are deftly drawn and congenial; the incidents amusing and sometimes even suspenseful. The novel has much going for it—but not credibility. Even for the preteen mystery adventure fan, this situation is extremely improbable. (p. 423)

Ann Gebhard, "Books for Young People: 'Titania's Lodestone' and 'Meet Me at Tamerlane's Tomb'" (copyright 1976 by the International Reading Association, Inc.; reprinted with permission of the International Reading Association and Ann Gebhard), in Journal of Reading, Vol. 19, No. 5, February, 1976, pp. 421, 423.