The Pushcart War
by Jean Merrill, published 1964
“The Pushcart War started on the afternoon of March 15, 1998, when a truck ran down a pushcart belonging to a flower peddler. Daffodils were scattered all over the street. The pushcart was flattened, and the owner of the pushcart was pitched headfirst into a pickle barrel.”
This children’s book is such a delightful and humorous read, I can only say I’m so glad I didn’t miss reading it. Thanks to my friend Jennifer, I located this in our library, and read it in one sitting, smiling and laughing all the way through. It is thoroughly good humored, with a touch of profundity in it’s message about how a committed group of people, no matter how few, can prevail against bullies. It illustrates how to win the day through a great positive attitude.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit this children’s book has special appeal to me because it is set in my home town of New York City, and written at the time I was still living there. It is possible that the audience for this book are parents who lived or live in NYC and their children. However, while some of the specifics of the humor might be missed by others, it is so enjoyable that I think anyone could relate to the story and enjoy it. It is a traditional David and Goliath tale, where the small pushcart vendors take on the big Mack trucks, and win. Along the way, there are very unsubtle pokes at government officials, bribery, and pride.
This is the 50th anniversary of the publication of this children’s book, and an apt time to read it. If you are a New Yorker, this is a great children’s book to share with your kids or grandkids. If you are from somewhere else, share this with your kids in the spirit of historical fiction!