Title: The Family Under the Bridge
Author: Natalie Savage Carlson
Major Themes: Family, France, Gypsies, Paris
Synopsis: Three children and a dog help an old hobo learn about life and love.
I have now read The Family Under the Bridge aloud four times. I love it as much this time as the first time! This is truly a beautiful story.
On the first page, we meet Armand, a hobo who carries everything he owns, including a shoe with no match, in a baby buggy. He is perfectly happy moving around Paris from one hidey-hole to another. Today, after talking with his gypsy friend Mireli about various matters including what a nuisance children are, he is headed for his winter quarters under a particular bridge. He arrives there—and finds that it is already occupied! Suzy, Paul and Evelyne are there while their mother is at work. Armand is horrified that these “starlings” have taken over his place, but Suzy quickly solves that problem by drawing a room for him on the concrete.
Very unwillingly, Armand finds his heart going out to the children. Despite all his protestations about what a bother “starlings” are, he ends up spending the day with them—but he certainly cannot work! When some well-meaning ladies find the children and decide they need to be put in a home where they will have proper care, Armand saves the day, with the help of his gypsy friends. When the gypsies suddenly leave Paris, however, what will happen to the family?
As you read this short, easy book, you will enjoy watching two characters grow and change. Mama learns to accept help when needed, and accept other people for who they are rather than their stereotypes. Armand learns that it’s all right to allow your heart to go out to other people, and that work is not a terrible thing. I love this story! Along with the beautiful storyline, you’ll get a little glimpse of Paris, as well.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12