For our second simple chapter book of this series, we head back to Christmas with The Family Under the Bridge, written by Natalie Savage Carlson and published in 1958.
Christmas, Paris, homeless children, and a charming old hobo—what more could you ask for? [grin] This book is a quick, uplifting story with delightful pictures by Garth Williams. It is available inexpensively at Amazon and most libraries should have it, so it makes a great book club selection, particularly in December when the book takes place.
The Family Under the Bridge may be a good example of multiple protagonists in a story. Armand needs some self-respect and a family to love (man vs. self) and the Calcet family needs a home and a grandfather after their father died (man vs. fate). Madame Calcet also needs to overcome her prejudice (man vs. self).
Crime Scene [Setting]
Paris (all over as they walk through the city)—cold and gray, but not cheerless
Under a Parisian bridge
In a gypsy camp
One late morning in December, cold day, gray sky
Through Christmas until New Year’s Eve
1900s (maybe 1950s according to the style of cars in illustrations and publication date)
Armand—old hobo with all his belongings in a baby buggy, ragged clothing, lives under bridge, cheerful, polite, ready for adventure, relishes freedom and lack of responsibilities, no pride, hides his heart under a gruff exterior
Children—fatherless, poor, homeless, redheads: Suzy, Paul (has a bit of a swagger), and Evelyne; Armand calls them “starlings”
Madame Calcet—“Mama,” widow, proud, hard worker, prejudiced
Gypsies—kind, generous, free-spirited