Kin Platt Introduction

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kin Platt 1911–

American novelist and cartoonist.

Platt writes novels for young adults that range from rollicking adventure stories to introspective portrayals of troubled teenagers. In one of his earliest novels, Sinbad and Me, Platt follows the adventures of his protagonist, Steven Forrester, and Steve's bulldog, Sinbad. Full of rousing action, treasure hunts, and secret codes, Sinbad and Me won the 1967 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for juvenile mystery.

Platt has also written several novels about emotionally troubled young adults. The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear depicts the anxieties of a schizophrenic; Hey, Dummy is the story of Neil Comstock and Alan, the mentally retarded boy Neil calls "Dummy." Hey, Dummy follows the breakdown of Neil's ignorance and the friendship that evolves out of his eventual acceptance of Alan's handicap. Platt's series of "Chloris" books chronicle a young girl's attempt to deal with her parents' divorce, her mother's dating and remarriage, and her father's suicide.

Platt has been attacked for the unconventional subject matter of some of his novels. Perhaps his most controversial book is Headman, which Robert Berkvist has called a novel about "growing up dead in the … ghettos of Los Angeles." Critics have disputed Platt's use of violence and, especially, his casual use of foul language in this book. To Platt, this is reality. He has written: "The future I see for my own work is an ever widening and deepening spiral to get the most out of myself and my readers…. There is always resistance to new ideas, enlightening concepts, or attacks on societal structures, but at times some will be permitted to filter through and reach and hopefully influence our growing audience."

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed. and Something about the Author, Vol. 21.)