H(esba) F(ay) Brinsmead Zena Sutherland - Essay

Zena Sutherland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Pastures of the Blue Crane is a] long junior novel, naive in one sense, sophisticated in another—and very good reading. [It has] a plot both romantic and provocatively different…. At the age of sixteen, [Amaryllis Merewether] is told by a lawyer that she has inherited half her father's fortune; the other half belongs to a man sitting across the room. This impoverished pensioner is her grandfather. The two go off to an inherited property and find the joys of family life, belonging, creative work, friendly neighbors, the beauty of nature, et cetera. The exotic quality of the topography and flora frequently described save the exposition from dullness, and the important message and theme woven through all this Utopia is race prejudice. Ryl's kindest friend is Perry, who is a quartercaste; Ryl is incensed at the occasional barbed remarks directed at Perry, but he takes such remarks very calmly. (In fact, he's almost too good to be true.)… The fact that Perry turns out to be Ryl's brother seems slightly contrived; the fact that Ryl is hardly shaken by her discovery seems a reaction unbelievably mature in a girl so young. However, the familial relationships, the peer group camaraderie, the high moral tone, and the message of the intrinsic worth of man all give the book strength. (pp. 143-44)

Zena Sutherland, "New Titles for Children and Young People: 'Pastures of the Blue Crane'," in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press; copyright 1966 by the University of Chicago), Vol. 19, No. 9, May, 1966, pp. 143-44.