Christie Harris Penelope M. Mitchell - Essay

Penelope M. Mitchell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

More than a who-wore-what version of the history of dress, [Figleafing Through History: the Dynamics of Dress] attempts to show that clothing has never been merely utilitarian, that it is a reflection of mores, rank, and philosophies. As a result, what is had here is a brief history of civilization—Eastern and Western—as seen through man's bodily adornment. Simplification has not distorted the overview, and the necessary postulation of changes in attitude during pre- and early history does not seem out of line. The author's personal bias does occasionally emerge especially in the final (approving) chapter on current Western trends in dress. (p. 127)

Penelope M. Mitchell, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the September, 1971 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1971), September, 1971.

"Anything uncanny is stlalakum," and practically everything uncanny [that happens in Secret in the Stlalakum Wild]—sasquatches, sprites, lie detector evidence of plants' emotions, and a very unlikely British Columbian faery named Siem—plays a role in convincing hard-headed Morann that the real treasure of the Stlalakum Wild is not gold but natural beauty. It's a little disappointing that more isn't made of these fantasy elements after they've been introduced: the sasquatch is dismissed as "a pitiful buffoon…. Big as a grizzly, yet timid as a rabbit"; the wonderful Ogress Squirrel plays only a minor role; and the encounter with the two-headed Seexqui is inconclusive—it's supposed to be a test of courage, but Morann would have run away if she could have gotten her sleeping bag unzipped. Perhaps if we knew earlier that the Wild was being threatened by miners, Morann's quest would seem more purposeful. As it is, the mix of Indian legends, scientific speculation and traditional make-believe is powerfully suggestive, even though it never really coalesces…. (p. 478)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), April 15, 1972.