Emily Cheney Neville Diane G. Stavn - Essay

Diane G. Stavn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Fogarty], ambitious in aim, is off-target in itself but better than most…. Like A. E. Johnson's A Blues I Can Whistle …, this book depicts the sentimental hold of a small town on even its more rebellious citizens, and features a sensitive young dropout hero who is getting over an unhappy romance, has some measure of artistic talent, and spars mentally with himself about his motivations to action. But A Blues I Can Whistle is more sophisticated stylistically, more intrinsically dramatic. Its protagonist, 19-year-old Cody, is recovering from an actual affair; Fog, from a hand-holding relationship. Cody's attempt to prevent his activist friend Barney's philosophically-inspired suicide makes political/social issues immediate and vivid; Fog's emotional shouting (pro ghetto children who have difficulty in school, anti hellfire interpretations of religion) is tedious. The book is obviously intended as a sympathetic record of the gradual maturation of a well-meaning slow bloomer. But, beside Cody, for example, young Fogarty palls. (p. 71)

Diane G. Stavn, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the January, 1970 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1970), January, 1970.

[It's Like This, Cat] is very American in content and atmosphere. The hero, Dave, acts, talks and thinks in a way which is not readily familiar to the British reader. Coney Island, the subway and the buses are not British in lay-out, and the British child may find it difficult to follow for this reason, but this is a very readable story and brilliantly written. (p. 102)

The Junior Bookshelf, April, 1970.

[Berries Goodman is a] perceptive story of relationships for children of ten upwards…. There are two themes—a family moving into the country from New York and the way in which each member adjusts to the different kind of life, and the prejudice of a community towards the Jews in their area….

It is a story of conflict and, to an English reader, there is much that is unfamiliar, especially in the community's attitude towards the Jewish families which is carried to the length of confining them to one quarter and keeping out the children from the local schools. Nevertheless, this is a story which convinces and amuses and, at times, gives food for thoughtful re-assessment of values. (p. 305)

The Junior Bookshelf, October, 1970.