Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Judy Delton’s Kitty in the Middle, a short, easy-to-read book, is divided into eight titled chapters, each of which is illustrated with a black-and-white sketch by Charles Robinson. The novel features third-person narration, with omniscience limited to the title character, and an episodic structure that recounts the adventures of Kitty and her best friends, Eileen and Mary Margaret, at St. Anthony’s School in St. Paul, Minnesota, during 1942 and 1943. The novel, which centers on the childhood domains of classroom and neighborhood, highlights the fears, frustrations, and joys of fourth-grade life, while adult concerns occupy only a vague and distant reality.

Kitty, the only child of caring parents, inhabits a well-regulated home in which her father returns from work promptly at 5:30 p.m. to a dinner of breaded veal on Monday, pork chops on Wednesday, and tuna on Friday. Kitty’s chameleon-like personality is somewhere “in the middle” between Mary Margaret and Eileen, and she tends to take on the personality of whichever girl she is with. Mary Margaret, Kitty’s “safe” friend, is a member of a large, devout Catholic family of modest means. Studious, religious, honest, and well-liked, she always looks immaculate in her spotless homemade school uniform and perfectly arranged “sausage” curls. Eileen, on the other hand, is Kitty’s “dangerous” friend, a rather pampered only child, who longs to grow up, change her...

(The entire section is 605 words.)