Emily Cheney Neville MAY HILL ARBUTHNOT and ZENA SUTHERLAND - Essay

MAY HILL ARBUTHNOT and ZENA SUTHERLAND

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There is no startling drama in It's Like This, Cat …, but it is impressive both for its lightly humorous, easy style and the fidelity with which it portrays a fourteen-year-old boy, Dave, who tells the story. Dave has found the first girl with whom he really feels comfortable (her mother is delightfully sketched as an urban intellectual), and he learns, by seeing the relationship between his father and his friend, that his father really is a pretty good guy. The experience of seeing one's parents through a friend's eyes is a common one, usually revelatory and seldom touched on in books for young people.

Berries Goodman … looks back on the two years in which his family lived in a suburb, years in which he had a friend who was Jewish and learned the subtle signs of adult prejudice: the nuances of tone and the light dismissal of subjects with painful implications. He also learns that Sidney's mother is just as biased. The book is an invitation to better understanding, and its serious import is not lessened by a light humor. (p. 464)

May Hill Arbuthnot and Zena Sutherland, in their Children and Books (copyright © 1947, 1957, 1964, 1972 by Scott, Foresman and Company; reprinted by permission), fourth edition, Scott. Foresman, 1972.