Barbara Corcoran Nancy Young Orr - Essay

Nancy Young Orr

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The half-year of [Sam's life as described in Sam] is a time of testing her father's distrust of people against her first independent contacts with the world…. Sam's uncertain eagerness to face life and to understand other people in spite of their weaknesses give the story some strength, but [Barbara Corcoran] almost stacks the deck in favor of the father's misanthropic philosophy. There are a number of improbable events in which secondary characters emerge as exaggerated, stereotyped examples of human frailty. Sam develops the courage to face new people and experiences, but for no logical reason—the book does not provide the necessary balance of feeling for any joy in life or goodness in people; Sam's changing views of her father—from initial hero-worship to near-pity at the end—are not realistically portrayed nor does the plot prepare readers for the emotional about-face.

Nancy Young Orr, "Junior High Up: 'Sam'," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the November, 1967 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./ A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1967), Vol. 14, No. 3, November, 1967, p. 74.

[A Row of Tigers] could be called The Misfits: an eleven-year-old discontent and a twenty-seven-year-old hunchback moving through several short episodes that don't quite join to make a plot…. After [Gene Locke] and Jackie share a close escape from some drunken braves, a traumatic birthday party for Jackie's mother (someone suggests she might remarry), a sheep-herding jaunt and a final run-away-from-home over an allegedly stolen book, Gene Locke decides to buy half a ranch and stay in Montana. (Surprisingly.) The row of tigers is the jackpot hit by Jackie (triumphant final note) in her pet slot machine at the dump—from beginning to end a tale self-consciously piling up the out-of-the-ordinary plaything, hobby, friend. No one seems to really grow, nothing seems to really change, little really happens. A disappointing successor to Sam.

"Younger Fiction: 'A Row of Tigers'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1969 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXVII, No. 5, March 1, 1969, p. 236.