- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 2 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 680 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (February 15, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0064402509
- ISBN-13: 978-0064402507
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Family Under the Bridge Paperback – February 15, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
The story of a Parisian tramp, Armand, who finds a ready-made family to live with him under the bridge, was a Newbery Honor book when it was first published more than 30 years ago. Ages 7-11.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Told with warmth and humor. A charming and memorable story."?- "ALA Booklist""A thoroughly delightful story of humor and sentiment Garth Williams' illustrations are perfect." --"School Library Journal"
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Top Customer Reviews
Children will love this book. Homelessness isn't something that most children are very familiar with. This unique book will help children understand that even children their age can be homeless. Most homeless people are looked at as being lazy and worthless. This book will show children that some homeless people are just like them, but they are just down in their luck. This is a heartwarming book and deserves attention in the classroom.
I enjoyed The Family Under the Bridge but it wasn't one of my all-time favorites. It was fairly entertaining. Many parts of the book were exciting and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next, but there were also some slow parts. Overall I thought it was a pretty good book.
Hobos may come and hobos may go, but Armand of Paris isn't going anywhere. He loves his beautiful French city with its history and ample bridges to sleep under. With winter fast approaching, Armand's just on his way to put his ever moving home under his favorite bridge when he receives a nasty shock. There, camped out under a thin blanket, are three red-haired children. Armand doesn't trust children as a rule. His greatest fear is that he'll grow to love them and then no longer be the freewheeling king of the road that he currently is. These fears prove to be well founded when the kids adopt Armand as an unofficial grandfatherly figure and go with him all around and about the city. Their dream is to someday have a home of their own, and with Armand's help and a little gumption, that dream starts to look a little more possible every day.
The story's cute enough, with Armand as a roly-poly harmless figure leading the kids hither and thither throughout Paris. There are some wonderful sequences with a traveling band of gypsies (who, remarkably, are exempt from that stereotypical magic-creature label they've acquired in hundreds of other children's books). The gypsies are presented as regular folks, which I appreciated hugely. Also, the book has a satisfying ending that all children hearing it will appreciate. Carlson's narrative voice is affecting and Garth Williams's illustrations (you may best remember him as the illustrator of the "Little House" books as well as "The Cricket In Times Square") are striking.
But then there are the problems that a book written in 1958 must face. Now in this story, the mother character regularly abandons her children, without food, under a bridge in busy Paris. She does this, rather than put them in a home where they could get (oh, I dunno) warm clothes and food, because of a fanatical instinct to keep the family together. I can understand this on some level. No one likes to be separated from their relations. However, even after the mother makes the acquaintance of Armand (who she does not trust for a number of reasons), she still leaves her children with him all day. She does not give them any food (they have to eat Armand's), or toys, or really anything to do but follow a fellow they don't even know around and about. When he feeds them during the day by urging them to sing and then collecting money from strangers, she's incensed. Better that her kids go hungry than (gasp, shudder) SING! If the bad parenting going on in this story weren't enough, the idea that people are homeless simply because they are lazy is a bit worn as well. Pretty much every tramp in this book is homeless because he or she wants to be. Plenty get work at a drop of a hat, and at the end of the tale Armand goes from a fellow with zero job experience to the superintendent of a building. And all because he's finally decided to get a job. So when your kids walk down the street and see homeless people asking for food or money, you can bet they'll rest assured that those people are there because they're just too lazy to get hired somewhere. What a lovely lesson to learn from a book.
Ugh. So there's that. It's a nice tale, don't get me wrong. But since I didn't grow up with it myself, I haven't a nostalgia for it that so many others do. I can see its charms and I can see its flaws. I prefer its charms, but I can't help but point out where it goes awry. All in all, it's a fine little story and I don't mean to imply that by reading it your kids will suddenly become callous towards those in need. Just bear in mind what the book is saying.