Emily Cheney Neville Robert Hood - Essay

Robert Hood

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A middle-class, 14-year-old cliff dweller, Dave Mitchell, roams from the Bronx Zoo to the Fulton Fish Market to Coney Island [in "It's Like This, Cat"]. His experiences, although not melodramatic, violent or grim, are the essence of today—shy dates with a girl, friendship with an older boy, affection for a pet, learning to understand Dad. Written in an understated, humorous style, this is superb—the best junior novel I've ever read about big-city life. (p. 2)

Robert Hood, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1963 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 12, 1963.

[In Berries Goodman], in a recognizable, believable situation, the difficulty in assigning blame and analyzing motive as well as in tracing the pressures adults exert on children, who are also subject to the pressures of their own codes, is very well done. Unlike the general run of juvenile novels, the issue of anti-Semitism is not continuously slugged at, telegraphed or spotlighted. It is through nuance that the social myths go crashing—about being Jewish, looking Jewish and having Jewish names. Berries' first person reporting is sharp. This boy doesn't miss a trick and all the incidental misadventures of transplanting from city sidewalks to suburban folkways are recounted with a direct comic vision which enhances the book's major point without reducing its serious intent. The dialogue is just as natural and relaxed as in It's Like This, Cat and indirectly (for instance, Sidney's mother who is in there protecting and pushing and wanting him "to be perfect") some types are well cast. We often recommend adult books for youngsters; you can do the reverse here—anybody can find it both worthwhile and a pleasure to read. (p. 318)

Virginia Kirkus' Service, March 15, 1965.