Roderick L(angmere) Haig-Brown Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Ki-Yu: A Story of Panthers," published in Britain as "Panther,"] is a superbly written biography …; but it is also a story of the wild life of the northern forests told with the veracity of a man who has known this life for a long time; and who can translate the majesty as well as the cruelty of the eternal struggle for existence among animals into vivid, swinging prose….

It is [the] long-drawn-out duel between man and beast which is the backbone of the narrative, and it is a fitting conclusion that neither wins….

The conviction of the story is augumented by the author's objective treatment of his subject. With the woodsman's realism he wastes little space in conjecture on animal thought, but relies on his knowledge of habit and instinct to portray the panthers hunting, killing, playing or roaming in that apparently aimless wandering which has such sound instinct to guide it. The book is, unfortunately, too long. It would have been more effective in condensed form, as much of the detail is repetitious, adding little to the original concept of the tale, so that the attention slackens at intervals. Nevertheless, it is, on the whole, a fine and vigorous story, which should appeal equally to sportsmen and older young people.

Ellen Lewis Buell, "The New Books for Boys and Girls: 'Ki-Yu: A Story of Panthers'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1935 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 24, 1935, p. 10.