Joseph Krumgold Eleanor Cameron - Essay

Eleanor Cameron

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In extended imagery, Krumgold gives us in Henry 3 the following inscape about losing, about the sensation of knowing you're losing, and here … the rhythm of these lines, their very flow, is an inherent part of Krumgold's meaning. (These lines, too, are a fine example of how a novel can be written in the first person, the person here being a thirteen-year-old boy, can reflect the disciplined and sensitive style of the author himself, and yet sound perfectly natural and unliterary, in the pejorative sense of the word "literary.")

… losing became a part of whatever went on. There's even a color to losing. It's brown, like the one dead leaf on a full green tree is brown, twisting slow and waiting to drop. And the smell of losing is sour as a dirty T-shirt the morning after a ball game. There's a taste to it, too, that's dry and salty. You could be running a temperature, the way losing tastes. And the sound of it is far off. Losing is an echo of all the noises you pass through while you think only of what's wrong. It's brittle, losing, like the feel of toothpicks you snap between your fingers in Pirelli's Pharmacy, trying to answer questions.

                                            (p. 150)

Eleanor Cameron, in her The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books (copyright © 1962, 1964, 1966, 1969 by Eleanor Cameron; reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Co. in association with The Atlantic Monthly Press), Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1969.