Barbara Corcoran

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Jean C. Thomson

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 914

[All the Summer Voices] is a weak tale about a boy who learns to respect his father despite his failings…. David and his father are reconciled when Dad helps save a neighbor's life and rescues David from drowning. This contrived solution shows David that he's a loving father and a brave man. David gets the point (and readers won't miss it either): don't judge the complex world of adults too harshly. David doesn't talk to people his own age; instead he deals with adult problems and listens to adult pronouncements. Action is submerged in the history of the time or town or needlessly interrupted to produce a story that's not as interesting as its locale.

Jean C. Thomson, "Book Reviews: 'All the Summer Voices'," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the November, 1973 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1973), Vol. 20, No. 3, November, 1973, p. 48.

With her mother reentering a mental hospital and her divorced father off painting somewhere, Gail is packed up by a steely-willed social worker to go and live with her hated Uncle Chad [in The Winds of Time]. An automobile accident on their journey to his home in North Dakota gives Gail the opportunity to escape and she finds herself on the Partridge family estate where its two residents … welcome her with no questions asked. The unlikely circumstances that allow Gail to encounter and then live with the Partridges mar the book's credibility, and the story as a whole lacks the artistry of Corcoran's perceptive adolescent study in All the summer voices …; but Gail's newly discovered happiness, though patly found, will satisfy unsophisticated readers. (pp. 654-55)

"Children's Books: 'The Winds of Time'," in The Booklist (reprinted by permission of the American Library Association; copyright 1974 by the American Library Association), Vol. 70, No. 12, February 15, 1974, pp. 654-55.

Gail trusts no one and has no patience with adult attention to "the past" [in The Winds of Time]. Her early musings on the difficulty of living "now" are annoyingly managed and unconvincing, but after Chad, with a court order, fetches her West and she runs away from his car after a highway accident en route, Gails finds herself wanted and sheltered in an isolated dream-come-true household that is beautifully believable…. The vague theme of appreciating the past is never really worked in (or worked out) and Corcoran is not above such narrative tricks as terrifying Gail (and her readers) with her characters' unconventional entrances—Sonny at the pool, Christopher through a bedroom window during a windy night, etc. But it's no wonder that Gail opens up to this family, and when at last her artist father arrives from Hawaii in answer to her postcard, occasioning a party with Sonny's chokecherry wine and candles in the long-unused ballroom, who wouldn't second his toast "To the Partridges, and to all the lovely miracles of life"?

"Younger Fiction: 'The Winds of Time'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLII, No. 5, March 1, 1974, p. 243.

Dixon's animals are always more believable and even interesting than her people, and [in The Young Grizzly ] she reconstructs the first three years in the life of a grizzly bear with unusual immediacy…. Always on the edge of their lives is the threat from humans with guns, especially one bloodthirsty hunter and his protesting son, whose conversations reveal a changing relationship that would be disappointingly stereotyped as a main feature but functions...

(This entire section contains 914 words.)

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here to punctuate the narrative with a smoothly handled subplot.

"Younger Non-Fiction: 'The Young Grizzly'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLII, No. 6, March 15, 1974, p. 305.

Another Corcoran runaway (see The Winds of Time …) finds an idyllic haven [in A Dance to Still Music]…. Newly deaf, Margaret is struggling against the unfamiliar isolation of her condition and against the label "handicapped"…. It might be argued that her successful resistance against attending a regular school for the deaf presents all such institutions in an unfairly negative way. However, for the hearing person, Margaret is a reliable guide to the problems of a handicap that is less well understood—and often less sympathetically treated—than blindness. And as always, Corcoran's gentle, supportive solutions have a convincing grace that compensates for their circumscribed reality.

"Younger Fiction: 'A Dance to Still Music'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLII, No. 14, July 15, 1974, p. 742.

In [Promises to Keep's] Charles Miller and his half-Vietnamese cousin Lon, Dixon presents an interesting study in comparative character, and when the orphaned Lon comes to join the prominent Miller family in a conservative New England town, the situation has a built-in tension…. The two boys barely understand each other except in times of trouble—a whole soap opera's worth…. Dixon's heart is in the right place, and watching such a superior individual as Lon suffer and triumph over prejudice is always moving. Still, except for those who have never before considered the plight of Vietnam, there is little here that would challenge anyone's complacency—in fact those of us who would not beat up or insult a boy for being half-Oriental can come away feeling a vicarious glow of virtue. On its own terms, the melodrama works fairly well—a few of the lesser characters demonstrate unexpected complexity from time to time, and Charles is divided enough inside himself to make the theme at least implicitly challenging.

"Young Adult Fiction: 'Promises to Keep'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLII, No. 14, July 15, 1974, p. 748.


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