As mentioned in a previous post, a friend posted a “Definitive List of Children’s Books Set in France.” One which I ordered from our local library turned out to be a “chapter book” instead of a picture book and provided a lovely summer afternoon’s read.

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, a Newberry Honor Book, can be described as gentle, and by a word I try to avoid, “sweet.”  Although it was published in the late fifties, in our society where many homeless people live “under the bridge,” it has a timely message and relevance in our attitudes to those we consider less fortunate than ourselves.  It basically is the story of an old curmudgeon who is turned into a generous grandpa by three “lovely” redheaded Parisian children. How all this comes to be is flavored throughout by the setting–the incomparable city of Paris.

A further happy surprise was that the illustrator, Garth Williams, is the same illustrator as chosen for E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.  What a delightful book, probably more for adults than today’s children.  But, hopefully, out there somewhere there are still some sensitive little souls who will read and love The Family Under the Bridge.



Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."


  1. The best children’s books can be read and appreciated by a person of any age. I’ve found that to be true over and over as I’ve made my way through the 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read list.

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  2. I don’t think childrens books are just for children anymore — some of them are really fun! Finding a book with Garth Williams illustrations would have been a very happy surprise for me. I loved his drawings in the Little House series. Thanks for sharing!


    1. It was a surprise to find a book I had read a mention of in a really good definitive biography of E.B. White (review posted earlier on powerefulwomenreaders) by Michael Sims, THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE’S WEB. It was published back in 2011, and in the section on the actual publication of CW, it introduced the “young” “unestablished” illustrator White chose to illustrate CW and Stuart Little. The two men’s philosophies coincided on anthropomorphizing animals in children’s books. I like the realistic touches of the illustrator’s work with a “gentled edge” because of having children as his target audience. I am learning to “read illustrators” through reading children’s books as well. As you commented, “They can be appreciated by a person of any age.” My next step should be to get into current/modern children’s illustrators, right?


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