Robert Newton Peck Beryl Robinson - Essay

Beryl Robinson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Designed to stimulate interest in animal life in one small meadow, the author [of Path of Hunters: Animal Struggle in a Meadow] has described a considerable number of life cycles to be observed from one spring to the next…. At the time that their activities are being recorded, they are all involved in some aspect of their life cycle: mating, birth, survival, death. Details are explicit and often poetic as mates are found, homes are built, and the young are born. The struggle is continuous, the hunt for food fierce; and death stalks life in a never-ending pattern. Free from sentimentality, objective although sensitive, a coherent narrative despite the many lives described, this is first-rate nature writing.

Beryl Robinson, "Nature: 'Path of Hunters'," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1973 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. XLIX, No. 4, August, 1973, p. 393.

[Peck] knows the 19th century Vermont/upper New York State country well and populates it [in Millie's Boy] with a sturdy set of characters—among them mule-driving, doctoring six-footer Fern Bodeen (who unlike some other frontier Amazons is never made stereotypically asexual). One sometimes suspects that Peck's respect for the integrity of his characters does not always stop him from playing fast and loose with the reader. First we're manipulated into suspecting Fern of murder for no apparent reason except that the accusation delivers a chapter-ending jolt; later we're lulled with a homey ending that brings Sheriff Gus from Tit's hometown to pair off with Fern and suggests that Amy will be able to combine medical school with marriage to Tit. Young Tit cuts a wide swath—getting himself "shot, froze to death, run down by coydogs, and drowned in the lake" early on and eventually turning to patricide; savvy readers will latch on to the vernacular humor and roll with the punches.

"Young Adult Fiction: 'Millie's Boy'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1973 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLI, No. 18, September 15, 1973, p. 1044.