Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: Knee-Deep in Ice Cream by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1967)

Knee-Deep in Ice Cream is similar to Grasshoppers in the Soup, Naylor’s collection of short YA vignettes, but this book has just one main character - a teen boy - who remains the central focus throughout the entire book. As in Grasshoppers in the Soup, the stories in this book focus on family, friends, church, and dating, as well as on more serious issues such as the threat of Communism, belief in God, corporal punishment, racial segregation, world hunger, and “the birds and the bees.”

The main character, though unnamed, is very realistic and his pitch-perfect voice guides the reader through each quick chapter. His observations about teen life are insightful, if not somewhat dated to their time period, and he emerges as a complete entity unto himself, totally different from any other character today’s Naylor fans might know. The tone of each story is coy and clever, with lots of good-natured humor and just a hint of lighthearted mischief. Supporting characters are somewhat cartoonish (one of them is named Charlie Horse!) - as are the illustrations - which also contributes to the overall sense of this book as “feel-good” entertainment.

Like Grasshoppers in the Soup, this book involves a lot of characters, and though they were easy to differentiate from one another, there were still an awful lot of names and personalities to keep track of for such a short book. I also wished for a little bit more of an overall story arc. While certain friendships and relationships emerge as important, there isn’t necessarily anything specific that connects the different segments of the book into a larger whole. Overall, though, there is very little to criticize in these fun slice-of-life tales, and I had a great time reading them!

1 comment:

  1. I have NEVER seen this one! but now I want to read it, if only for the very 1960s cover. thanks for finding this one!