John Neufeld

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John W. Conner

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 435

Neufeld's masterful use of simple language [in Sleep Two, Three, Four!] to build suspense enhances the reading. The author rarely wastes words. His descriptions of events collide with one another or smoothly overlap, creating varying degrees of tension in a reader. Only once does the author's description of political events and feelings threaten to slow the pace of the novel. At this point Rafe, a nearly blind Indian, has provided shelter for the group in a secret cave. Rafe's explanation of political facts unknown to these young people reveals more background for their actions than the reader really needs to know.

The simple purpose of the group's journey keeps the plot trim and direct. But the author develops his characters through their contributions to the rescue attempt. (p. 305)

Sleep Two, Three, Four! needs to be read in a single sitting. The characters plunge headlong into their adventure, too immature to fear the unknown, pursued by authority which they have been taught to trust. It is a world without customary restraints which John Neufeld has created. And in this world his characters must explore to find that which they can believe in. Adolescent readers will be entranced by the situation in Sleep Two, Three, Four! and will assess how they would react if placed in a similar situation. John Neufeld will make his readers cherish their ability to question and will make them uneasy about accepting seemingly easy solutions to sociological issues. (p. 306)

John W. Conner, "Book Marks; 'Sleep Two, Three, Four!'" in English Journal (copyright © 1972 by the National Council of Teachers of English; reprinted by permission of the publisher and the author), Vol. 61, No. 2, February, 1972, pp. 305-06.

There is less novel and more problem orientation in [Freddy's Book, an] easygoing odyssey of a boy's search for the meaning of the word "fuck," than in any of Neufeld's previous problem novels. Still, readers a step or two ahead of Freddy will be amused by his frustrating bout with the librarian and the card catalog and his bemusement in the face of his mother's electric plug analogy and his friends' misinformation…. More important, boys in Freddy's shoes should be both reassured by the awareness that they are not alone in their perplexity and gradually enlightened along with Freddy…. Though perhaps undeserving of a fiction classification, this is a charmingly personalized approach to sex education, and it would probably be a big help to other Freddys to file at least a "see" card under the word they'll be looking up.

"Younger Non-Fiction: 'Freddy's Book'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1973 The Kirkus Service, Inc.). Vol. XLI, No. 15, August 1, 1973, p. 817.

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John W. Conner


Carol Starr