Julia W(oolfolk) Cunningham Virginia Haviland - Essay

Virginia Haviland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Praise for the originality and the skillful, sensitive writing of the author for earlier work is due in complete measure again [for Burnish Me Bright]…. Poetry fills the writing—spare, evocative, intense—leaving a haunting blend of scenes brilliantly conceived and character relationships delicately limned. (pp. 386-87)

Virginia Haviland, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1970 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), August, 1970.

Adumbrated in words that are not childlike [Wings of the Morning tells of] an experience unlike that of most children—who, finding an inert bird by the roadside, assume it to be hurt or dead and react fearfully or protectively according to their nature. But this bare-footed, blue-jeaned, otherwise otherworldly youngster, feeling her aloneness on the wide road, thinks that it is sleeping, "waiting there for me all morning." It "needs someone to fly beside it"—and so she spreads its wings and tosses it into the air. Immediately it falls and she is devastated, to recover only in the security of her father's arms. Manifestly metaphorical, this is nonetheless problematic: was the bird dead at the outset? if wounded, would she not unwittingly have killed it? These are the questions that would occur to a child, and the fact that the photographer's daughter is the girl to whom this happened does not answer them. Indeed, the simulation—i.e. photographic recreation—of such intense reality is itself suspect. And coupled with the poeticizing, [it is ineffectual by comparison with the creative simplicity of the Margaret Wise Brown-Remy Charlip Dead Bird]. (p. 229)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1971 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), March 1, 1971.