Mary Rodgers Alix Nelson - Essay

Alix Nelson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It's too bad we don't reserve a special set of adjectives for books that really are commendable—witty, original, entertaining, well-plotted and well-wrought; as it is, copywriters … have so diluted those terms that when the genuine article [like "A Billion for Boris"] comes along it's like crying wolf. Wolf!…

While I'm not saying this is "Eloise" of the seventies, "A Billion for Boris" does assume an urban and sophisticated frame of reference on the part of the reader, and it evokes so much New York City local color … that it really is the perfect New York City book.

Ah, but its smart high-school repartee is so snappy (and so true!) it ought to delight the cognoscenti and their eccentric, rotten-housekeeper mothers from coast to coast. (p. 8)

Alix Nelson, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1974 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 24, 1974.

American children are apt to move through their fictional lives with great gusto, much wise-cracking and a columnist's wit. [In A Billion for Boris] Annabel Andrews and her young brother Ape Face join with Boris in the exploitation of a TV set which inexplicably shows tomorrow's programmes today. As in all the best folk tales the possession of wishes that come true or powers of foretelling the future never seem to work out. There is a lot of hilarious backchat and exchanges of verbal fireworks between children and parents. Why is that, to all American fictional children, adults are slightly soft in the head? As devoid of real emotion as a P. G. Wodehouse anti-hero, these superficial fun-loving urban descendants of Huck Finn will provide an amusing read…. (p. 336)

The Junior Bookshelf, October, 1975.