Freaky Friday Critical Context - Essay

Mary Rodgers

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Although not usually taught as part of the educational curriculum, Freaky Friday appears frequently on summer reading lists and lists of extra-credit book review choices. Critics find that beneath what seems to be fanciful fluff is a sturdy foundation of good behavior modeling for young adolescent girls. In the novel, every problem has a solution; every conflict, a resolution. Annabel’s newly acquired genuine appreciation for her parents, her little brother, her teachers, and her schoolwork strains credibility only if the reader expects literal truth.

Mary Rodgers is the daughter of Richard Rodgers, the renowned composer of Broadway musicals, and is a well-known screenwriter, composer, and lyricist in her own right. Outside of the field of children’s literature, she is probably best known for having written the score for the Broadway musical Once upon a Mattress (1959). Her other children’s books include The Rotten Book (1969), about a naughty little boy named Simon. In addition, she has written two sequels to Freaky Friday: A Billion for Boris (1974), describing Boris’ acquisition of a television set that broadcasts tomorrow’s programs, and Summer Switch (1982), which describes a switch between Annabel’s brother, Ben, and their father, Bill. In 1977, Rodgers wrote the screenplay for the Walt Disney Studios film version of Freaky Friday.

Mary Rodgers’ books for both children and young adults fall into the entertainment category: While providing a pleasurable reading experience, they also offer to the thoughtful reader the opportunity to “walk a mile in another’s shoes.”