Paula Danziger Natalie Babbitt - Essay

Natalie Babbitt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Miss Danziger's popularity, like Mrs. [Judy] Blume's, is easily explained, but the reasons for it are quite different. In spite of its trendy title, "Bunk Five" is not a funny story any more than its predecessor was—notwithstanding the frequent one-liner zingers in both—and Marcy's family life continues to be miserable, her father a monster, the communication gap a chasm. Marcy begins, of course, to learn tolerance and understanding at camp, to become, presumably, more "adult." But in the world Miss Danziger presents, adults, with a couple of exceptions, are two-dimensional, egocentric and small-minded. If this is really the case, why try to be one? But Miss Danziger is playing pretty much flat out for the audience. You of the new generation, she seems to be saying, will be fine folk someday, unlike the poor saps from whom you sprang. That stance has increased her popularity, but it's pretty simplistic and questionable considering the complexity of the problem. (pp. 36-7)

Miss Danziger,… by romanticizing the distortions that complicate the healing of family rifts, may be perpetuating some of the very miseries for which she shows such sympathy. (p. 37)

Natalie Babbitt, "Children's Books: 'There's a Bat in Bunk Five'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 23, 1980, pp. 36-7.