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Felicia Kershenbaum has every bit as much imagination as Victory Banneker (Dreams of Victory, KR, p. 186, J-58), but Felicia channels hers outward into what is meant to be constructive criticism. Surprisingly, much of Felicia's advice is taken with good grace -- the butcher offers a refund after Felicia complains (on her mother's stationery) about an inferior cut of meat, her suggestions to the school traffic guard are adopted, and Aunt Celeste listens with interest to Felicia's negative review of her childrens' book, Timmy and Tammy Visit a Solid Waste Recycling Plant (!). Nevertheless, Felicia's appearance-conscious thirteen year-old sister never does appreciate her help, and when the inveterate critic's list of comments on a fancy long Island style wedding (""Don't let the accordion player sing. Smaller dinner so people have room for Baked Alaska"") falls into the hands of the mother of the bride, her career is summarily brought to a halt. In the end Felicia has a sweet revenge; after the carnival given by her friends is snowed out, the other girls realize that Felicia's talent for anticipating the worst can be valuable and they plead for her to become her old querulous self again. With such an ego-boosting finale and a lot of major and minor catastrophes along the way, Felicia the Critic is stronger in traditional story values and structure than the episodic Dreams of Victory. But Conford, who is better at monologue and quick satirical sketches than sustained action, seems less at home with the more gregarious, confident Felicia. As a result, there is somewhat more formula and less conviction here, though Felicia is sure to receive good reviews from her critical peers.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1973
Publisher: Little, Brown