by Christopher Paul Curtis, 1999
“We were all standing in line waiting for breakfast when one of the caseworkers came in and tap-tap-tapped down the line. Uh-oh, this meant bad news, either they’d found a foster home for somebody or somebody was about to get paddled.”
The opening line (above) of this children’s book captures instantly why this book is not only a deserving Newbery winner, but a must-read book for almost any American kid. The writing is superb, the story is dramatic and heartwarming, and the look at life during the depression is honest and important.
This stunning children’s book plays every note on the heart string, including humor and pathos, yet it is not soppy or maudlin. It is a terrific story of resilience, hope, and grace. Once I picked it up to read, I couldn’t stop reading until the end. Then, I wished the book went on and on.
I absolutely loved the characters than come into this young 10-year-old orphan’s life. Each one has such a touch of goodness that you want to hug them through the pages. The kid hits every obstacle, not the least of which is his skin color, yet he never gives up, just keeps on going. We just want to cheer him on to a happy ending, which of course he gets.
Be sure your kids get to read this children’s book. whether at home, or in school. (If you use it in a classroom, there are several good classroom guides available.) It is a keeper. There’s also a lovely children’s biography of the author.