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Roller Skates Paperback – May 6, 1986


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grades 4-7--This recording of the 1937 Newbery Award-winning book by Ruth Sawyer (Penguin Putnam, pap. 1986) is read by television and stage actress Kate Forbes. The story takes place in New York City in the 1890s, during the year of 10-year-old Lucinda's "orphanage." That's Lucinda's term for her situation when her parents go to Italy and leave her in the care of Miss Peters and Miss Nettie. Lucinda, enjoying her freedom, explores the city on roller skates and makes friends wherever she goes. She reads Shakespeare with her uncle, puts on her own production of The Tempest, creates a magical Christmas for a little girl from an impoverished family, helps a family protect their fruit stand from attacks by rowdy boys, and has picnics in a vacant lot , among other adventures. Forbes does a good job with the reading, conveying Lucinda's enthusiasm but not becoming overly dramatic. However, the story suffers from age. Certain expressions and references are likely to elude most children (and even many adults). The obligatory tragedies (the death of Trinket, the unexplained murder of a woman Lucinda befriends) seem a little maudlin. There is also some ethnic stereotyping, typical of the time, that is unacceptable today. However, in libraries where Newbery books are always in demand, this audio-book will help make an older book a little more accessible to young readers.
Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A refreshingly lively and genuine story.”
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; 1st edition (May 6, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140303588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140303582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Lalalalaura on October 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I don't remember the first time I read this book or, rather, had it read to me. But I'm 24 now and I probably re-read it every 18 months or so. It's just that good.
Lucinda is one of the best characters in children's literature. She's not a beautiful girl (though you can tell she'll grow into a striking and riveting woman), but she's got an entirely generous spirit and energy saved up from a lifetime of restraint. She manages to have both entirely unique and exciting experiences that few people would (or should) ever share and to make everyday things into adventures. What's more, through the book she truly grows and changes, not any more than a girl of 10 years old should, but just enough.

Her adventures bring to life 1890s New York, both familiar as the city we know now and completely different in scale. One amazing thing, if you think about it, is that this book is set just about 15 or 20 years after the first of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, so perhaps Laura was a young married woman during Lucinda's orphan year. And yet think of the difference in the lives they lived! You wouldn't think it was the same country, even.
It's true that there are some difficult parts in this book. Lucinda does lose friends, one of them violently. But, speaking as someone with a clear memory of being read this book as a child, it's handled so as not to be traumatizing. Lucinda doesn't fully understand or absorb her friend's murder; neither did I, because it's so sensitively written that as a child you realize only that something awful has happened that you _shouldn't_ quite understand. If you tend to underestimate your children, if you want to "protect" them from being thinking people able to live fully in the world, you may want to protect them from this book. My parents thought more of me, and I'm glad of it. Lucinda has been a great friend to me.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Reading Machine on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've never been to the Big Apple, but I wish I could visit the Old New York explored by gallant Lucinda in her magical "orphan" year, rather than the modern one. It is sad to think that the statue of Diana that Lucinda loved, proudly standing watch over Madison Square Garden, is now gathering dust in a museum...

And I must say I am baffled by reviewers who feel that Lucinda is not touched or affected by the two tragedies that darken her life during the course of the narrative. This is one of the most realistic and moving accounts of a child's reaction to death - frightened, confused yet bravely hopeful - that I have read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have loved this book ever since I first read it 15 years ago. I still read it every few months; its episodic nature makes it ideal for picking up and skimming when you have a few spare moments. The characterisations are fabulous; Lucinda's adventures still make me smile; I cannot say things wonderful enough about _Roller Skates_. It is an almost perfect book: thoughtful and whimsical by turns, and beautiful in its detail. Read it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2001
Format: School & Library Binding
Ruth Sawyer has a way with words!
A wonderful storyteller, she brings the reader into the early-1890s world of ten-year-old Lucinda, "orphaned" for a year because of her mother's illness and living temporarily (by her parents' arrangement, though one might overlook this) in a sphere quite different from her wealthy, society upbringing.
Mrs. Sawyer paints in bright word-colors the complex character of this intelligent, temperamental and exuberant child (herself, evidently!) discovering life outide New York City's high society.
This is not "tame" reading, however; Lucinda's experiences are not all happy and uplifting. Lucinda is more like a real girl than most children's-fiction figures, and her hot-headedness, tendency toward self-pity, and impulsiveness become a challenge to her. There are tragedies, including an abrupt, brutal (and largely unexplained) murder, in Lucinda's roller-skating year.
One comes away with the impression - further developed in the sequel, "The Year of Jubilo" - that Lucinda will never quite be "tame," either, although she will have the heart and the character of a true person of quality.
The other members of Lucinda's substitute family are, happily, given three dimensions as well - like Uncle Earle, content in his wealth but sad at the snobbery such wealth can bring; Tony, the gifted fruit-stand boy who becomes Lucinda's best friend for the year; the patrol officer and the cab driver who begin to see Lucinda as a real person and not just a "rich kid"; the Misses Peters, whose hearts are as large as their home is small; the Browdowskis, who become so significant in her life.
Parents, of course, need to read the book first.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TreeHugger on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just finished listening to the recorded version of this book with Kate Forbes as narrator--she did a great job. Overall, I liked this book. I admit that some of the depictions of people are not exactly politically correct in the 21st century, but you have to remember that this was a book written in 1936 about the 1890's, and that's the way people thought back then. The bigger picture is that in most ways, the main character, Lucinda, transcends these barriers of class and befriends people that her snobby family wouldn't approve of. Also, there's a very touching part at the end of the book that explains how Lucinda was an unwanted fifth child in her family, that her family considered her homely and unladylike; yet she managed to rise above these hurtful attitudes and become herself--not what other people wanted or expected her to be. I think this is a great message for children, or for adults for that matter. I don't know why the murder part was included in the story--it did seem somewhat out of place. This book would probably be read by an 11 or 12 year old; and in this day and age, the murder will seem very tame.
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