Kitty in the Middle Critical Essays

Judy Delton


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Like much successful juvenile fiction, Kitty in the Middle examines life from a child’s perspective, allowing young readers to identify easily with its characters and situations. Although the novel’s action takes place during World War II, Kitty’s world does not seem unfamiliar to young contemporary readers, because the vision of childhood portrayed has universal currency. The novel’s scope extends no further than schoolyard, neighborhood, and church, so that the historical setting supplies ambience and educational value, without detracting from the universality of childhood experiences. The young reader gains a sense of being a part of a community of children that transcends both geography and time.

The novel encompasses one school year, the unit by which most children measure their lives. Delton recognizes that small matters loom large in childhood and that school is the main stage in every child’s life drama. The small but significant routines of the school day so familiar to all young people are effectively dramatized in Kitty in the Middle. The fear of being called on by the teacher, the thrill of Valentine’s Day, and the first crush on a schoolmate will all resonate with schoolchildren, particularly girls. The anticipation of a new school year—accompanied by such overwhelmingly urgent questions as “Who is my teacher?” “Who is my class?” and “What will I wear?”—is dramatized both by Kitty’s trepidation...

(The entire section is 566 words.)