The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Genre: Preteen Fiction
Published in 1958
Recommended Age Group: 7 and Up
Summary: The Family Under the Bridge begins with Armand a hobo making his way through Paris. He is convinced that something wonderful is going to happen and it makes him happy. He even finds a scrap of holly to adorn his coat to make him look handsome. He meets a gypsy on his walk and she tells him that he is in for adventure and to be careful or someone will see his heart and what a kind man he is and that is just what happens. Armand has a bridge that he usually sleeps under and when he arrives he finds three children have made it their new home. Their mother is out working but since their father died they don’t have enough money to rent a place. Armand cares for them during the day and helps them stay happy in spite of the sad circumstances. He takes them to see Father Christmas (the Santa Clause of France) and they ask him for a house. One day two women pass by and notice the children alone and say that they are going to get someone to help them. The children are scared because they don’t want to be taken away from their mother but Armand takes them to a gypsy camp where they are given good food and a warm place to sleep. Armand, though resistant, welcomes them into his heart and in the end gets a job, becomes part of the family, and most of all finds them a house.
Personal Notes: This Newbery Honor book was a quick and enjoyable read! It reminded me of Miracle on 34th Street but a book. It has a lot of subtle lessons about pride but the most important lesson is about kindness. A perfect book for the holiday season and interesting enough to hold anyone’s interest.