Mary Rodgers Virginia Haviland - Essay

Virginia Haviland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[A Billion for Boris is a] deliciously original, engaging and consistently inventive story told by Annabel Andrews of Freaky Friday. Boris, who is Annabel's boyfriend, and Ben, her seven-year-old brother, complete a trio of brilliantly perspicacious and likeable characters, while a supporting cast of adults is equally well-drawn. Boris' defunct TV set, restored to working order by uncannily clever Ben, projects the next day's programs, thus providing remarkably valuable information…. Boris quickly perceives that the announcement of race-track results would be an open sesame to untold amounts of money. The author adroitly resolves the ethical problem of Boris' success at the betting office, and she portrays with comedy and poignancy Boris' earnest endeavors to alter the life style of his mother. (p. 144)

Virginia Haviland, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1974 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), October, 1974.

[When Boris] acquires a TV set that broadcasts tomorrow's programs [in A Billion for Boris], Annabel wants to use their foreknowledge for good deeds like helping the police entertain a lost child or providing a Daily News journalist with scoops, but Boris has bigger plans. It seems that Sascha, his mother …, is not after all evil but just a flighty writer, and the only way he sees to straighten her out and make his own life bearable is to win $12,000 on the races…. [When] he loses his sudden wealth in the end on a disqualified front runner, Sascha … comes up not only with a $50,000 check from Hollywood to pay the bills but also with the apparent revelation that she loves him. This leaves Boris, who has essentially learned his lesson without suffering for his mistakes, blubbering with joy—but it's poor reward for readers who have taken in all the cheap crises and social insensitivity of Freaky Friday without any of the compensating laughs. (p. 1104)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), October 15, 1974.