Frank Bonham Marilyn R. Singer - Essay

Marilyn R. Singer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Bonham is not at his best in [A Dream of Ghosts, a] contrived ghost story. An American family moves to France and into a 15th-Century castle inhabited by the ghosts of its original owners. Eleven-year-old Gwen, a computerized Nancy Drew, sets out to solve all the mysteries, with the questionable aid of her obnoxious younger brother. The characters are outdated stock figures adorned with a few contemporary props, and they often seem more unreal than the ghosts…. But none of that is important. What is supposed to matter is Gwen's realization that "you can't measure everything or put it under a microscope. You just have to keep trying …" Bonham introduces some fascinating supernatural material, but, unfortunately, it's the book's punch line rather than its premise, and the story ends just where it seems to begin. (p. 46)

Marilyn R. Singer, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the November 1973 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1973), November, 1973.

[In The Golden Bees of Tulami] a mysterious African stranger comes to [Dogtown], bringing with him a hive of bees and a supply of honey candy that is an instant turn-on to peace and humankindness. Gang tensions melt away after the African, Mr. Kinsman, arranges a "brotherhood ceremony" with tastes of Tulami honey for all, and Kinsman hopes to persuade the White House to exchange his queen bees—and their potential as a social panacea for the developmental dollars the tiny kingdom of Tulami needs. Despite many straight-faced assertions that the honey, which has no negative effects whatsoever, is "not a drug," readers can't be prevented from coming to their own conclusions. So it's not at all surprising that our government tries to destroy Kinsman and co-opt his product because peace would be economically disastrous. But whatever satire may (and it may not) be intended doesn't cut very deep; no one questions the rightness of the police using the honey to control crime, and no character ever objects to the gift of artificial bliss. In fact, Bonham is never quite specific enough about the nature of the honey high: he at least ought to have convinced us that it induced creativity, not just passivity. (p. 1159)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), November 1, 1974.