Julia W(oolfolk) Cunningham CHARLOTTE S. HUCK and DORIS YOUNG KUHN - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Dorp Dead] tells of a boy's growing toward maturity as he changes his concepts of security and freedom…. Told in the first person, the style of the narrative is unrealistic, for most children would not use such beautiful language. This is one clue that indicates the book goes beyond mere "reality of presentation." (p. 261)

Dear Rat … is a tremendous spoof on a hard-boiled detective story….

[Macaroon] is a more subtle and gentle animal fantasy…. Viollet is a rather sinister animal fantasy…. It combines some elements of both Dear Rat and Macaroon, but does not have the humor of the first or the loving compassion of the second…. Fantasyand realism become too mixed in this story for believability. While the characters are clearly drawn, they lack focus. It is Viollet's story, yet the reader only meets her at the beginning and the end. One's sympathies are directed more towards Oxford, the hound, and Warwick, the old fox. (p. 348)

The controversial Dorp Dead … [is] allegorical in nature. Gilly Ground represents all youth caught between its need to be non-conforming and its need for security; Kobalt, the ladder maker, is evil, the epitome of all evil that would control and damage basic personalities. The Hunter whose gun has no bullets may represent love or the meaning of life…. The plot of this story is sinister, but evil is overcome, and the integrity of Gilly Ground's personality preserved. Viewed as realistic fiction, this story seems too evil and unbelievable. Seen as allegory, Dorp Dead becomes an exceptional book indeed. (p. 361)

Charlotte S. Huck and Doris Young Kuhn, in their Children's Literature in the Elementary School (copyright © 1961, 1968, by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.; reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers), second edition, Holt, 1968.