Norma Klein Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[A book like Mom, the Wolf Man and Me] can easily suffer from the wrong kind of comment. The picture of an unmarried mother who makes a virtue out of her situation could offend those who believe that books of this kind should always classify and computerize good and bad. It would be a pity if such a shrewd, perceptive study of individuals were outlawed or, conversely, if it were praised for a courageous stand against convention. In fact this is an expert example of first-person narrative, in which every detail and every conversation, reported or direct, is properly related to Brett, the speaker throughout. From her comments we can deduce a great deal about the smugly conventional Evelyn, who gets her ideas from A Child's Guide to Divorce and is so disastrously unprepared for life; about Grandma, who deplores her daughter's way of life, and Grandpa, who believes in freedom and courage; above all, we can guess at what Brett partly understands, her mother's approach to life. It is a relief to read a book written in a mood so far from the usual lugubrious, sickly or melodramatic tone of novels for the 'teens. Norma Klein's crisp, witty, intelligent style indicates that she is primarily interested in character—in the fascinating differences between one human being and another, the surprising effect they can have on one another. To do this through the words of a girl of eleven—brash, abrupt, unintrospective, sometimes naïve—is a real achievement.

Margery Fisher, "Who's Who in Children's Books: 'Mom, the Wolf Man and Me," in her Who's Who in Children's Books: A Treasury of the Familiar Characters of Childhood, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975, Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 1975, p. 54.