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Brooklyn Bridge Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 2, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 2, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—In 1903, school lets out for summer vacation, and Joseph Michtom dreams of visiting Coney Island. But the 14-year-old's plans have to be placed on hold while he helps out in his father's toy-making business. The family stumbles on an idea that leads to the creation of the first teddy bear and achieves financial success. Set in Brooklyn and narrated by Joseph, the novel portrays the joys and heartaches in the lives of Russian-Jewish immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. Alternating with this story line is a parallel narrative devoted to abandoned children who forge a life for themselves under the shelter of the Brooklyn Bridge. Readers will have a hard time putting down this compelling story.—Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library
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From Booklist

Rooted in the Jewish immigrant experience in early-twentieth-century New York City, this story weaves together one boy’s immediate personal narrative with a community’s historical struggles. As the first natural-born American in his family, Joe, 14, always hears about the hell his parents escaped from in Russia. But what are the family secrets no one talks about here in America? Why won’t his aunts cross the bridge to his home in Brooklyn? Alternating with Joe’s narrative are chapters that focus on a community of vagrant kids. Joe’s dad has wild success manufacturing America’s first teddy bears, and a fascinating final note fills in historical facts about the toys. It all makes for a much denser story than Hesse’s spare Newbery winner Out of the Dust (1997), but just when things seem too bogged down in cultural detail, suddenly the plot reveals intricate connections, up to the very last chapter, that will make readers return to the beginning of this gripping story and see everything in a new way. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312378866
  • ASIN: B0032Z6YVY
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,122,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My Review of BROOKLYN BRIDGE by Karen Hesse

Well worth the five year wait, award winning author Karen Hesse's new book, Brooklyn Bridge, is a memorable mix of historical fiction with a trace of enchanting fantasy. Hesse introduces this immigrant tale with a quote by Isaac Newton:" We build too many walls and not enough bridges". This quote could be considered "a spoiler" if one could interpret its relevance prior to reading the story. However, readers must finish the book in order to see what Ms. Hesse means by using this quotation symbolically in relation to the actual Brooklyn Bridge and humanity, especially in the special era she wrote about.

In the early 1900s, the family of fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom has come from Russia to settle in America where the streets are made of gold. His is the typical lively and colorful family who has come to live the immigrant life of 1903 Brooklyn. Joseph who has a pretty good life for a kid in those days, filled with stick ball, a good home, family and lots of friends, is blessed but his dream centers on going to the new and thrilling amusement park known as Coney Island. However, Coney Island must wait. The Michtom family, in Joseph's mind, is doing fine with their candy store when suddenly his Dad gets an idea that instead of making toy bears out of metal or wood, they should be made of cloth. Before you can say `teddy bear', the idea takes off and the family is swamped with the demand for these bears. Joseph's family time is now devoted to this new "invention" and there is no time for Coney Island much less his "regular" boyhood life of friends and frivolity.

Interspersed between the chapters that tell of Joseph and his family and friends comes the haunting story of the kids who live under the bridge.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I greatly admire Hesse's writing, but I was disappointed in this book. The characters are sympathetic and the writing is fine, but the story lines of past and present just don't meet up. If the past needed resolving at the end, we should have had hints of that at the beginning and throughout the book. The italicized parts are, as another reviewer said, creepy. They add nothing to the story.
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Format: Hardcover
Karen Hesse is back, baby! A person only gets so many golden opportunities in their life, you know. There are only so many times you get a chance to say that someone's back. Someone who may have taken a small vacation from writing for a while. Karen Hesse is a good example of this. She's done some picture books and short stories but her last novel, Aleutian Sparrow came out in 2003. Now she's returned to the field in force and with a full-length no-verse-in-sight middle grade novel on her hands. I mean Hesse was always the queen of verse. Her Out of the Dust won itself a Newbery, and I cherish in a soft place in my heart The Music of Dolphins. I guess you could say it was my favorite Hesse book . . . until now. Brooklyn Bridge takes a fancy to the summer of 1903. A time of bears, Coney Island, hot nights, and sharp delicious pickles.

To hear fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom tell it, everything was fine before the bears. Yeah, his family wasn't rich or anything. His dad ran a candy store and they were like everyone else in their neighborhood. They made do. Then President Roosevelt had to go and NOT shoot a bear and everything went wrong. His Dad got this crazy idea about making stuffed bears out of cloth instead of wood or metal and suddenly everyone and his brother wanted one! Now Joseph's dad never has time to do little things like take his kids to Coney Island, and with all the family drama Joseph's feeling a little shut out.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I always enjoy historical fiction by Karen Hesse. This story is actually based on the real, Russian immigrant family, that invented the "Teddy Bear." It is set in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn New York. New York was a thriving, crowded city filled with recent immigrants. Joseph Mitchtom is 14 in the summer of 1903. His family ownes and operates a candy shop, until a story in the news paper about Teddy Roosevelt refusing to kill an injured and restrained bear on a hunting trip, inspires his parents to create and sell the first "Teddy Bears."

This story also has a darker side to it. In between the chapters about Joseph's family are short passages telling of the children who are homeless, some orphans, others the victims of abuse, who live under the Brooklyn Bridge. There is even a ghost who haunts the bridge and predicts the disappearance of children who live there. It is not a pretty picture. Theses children are literally "throw-aways." The ones no one wants or cares about. They struggle every single day just to survive. Reading this story makes one wonder how caring people could have turned their backs on helpless children. But then, things like that don't happen now days...do they?

I would recommend this books for older elementary aged students or middle schoolers. It might be a little frightening for younger children or those who are more sensitive to "scary" stuff.
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