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Family Under the Bridge

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Overview

This is the delightfully warm and enjoyable story of an old Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life. Children, he said, were like starlings, and one was better off without them.
But the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start. And it did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he ...

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Overview

This is the delightfully warm and enjoyable story of an old Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life. Children, he said, were like starlings, and one was better off without them.
But the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start. And it did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.

Armand and the children's adventures around Paris — complete with gypsies and a Santa Claus — make a story which children will treasure.

"Old Armand, a Parisian hobo, enjoyed his solitary, carefree life (until he) found that three homeless children and their working mother had claimed his shelter under the bridge. A charming and memorable story."--Booklist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064402507
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/1989
  • Series: A Trophy Bk.
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 57,604
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Natalie Savage Carlson is fondly remembered as the author of the much-loved Orpheline series and Surprise in the Mountains. Born in Virginia, Ms. Carlson later lived in Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and the Pacific Northwest. She eventually settled in Florida prior to her death.

Garth Williams began his work on the pictures for the Little House books by meeting Laura Ingalls Wilder at her home in Missouri, and then he traveled to the sites of all the little houses. His charming art caused Laura to remark that she and her family "live again in these illustrations."

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Once there was an old hobo named Armand who wouldn't have lived anywhere but in Paris. So that is where he lived.

Everything that he owned could be pushed around in an old baby buggy without any hood, so he had no worries about rents or burglars. All the ragged clothing he owned was on his back, so he didn't need to bother with trunks or dry-cleaners.

It was easy for him to move from one hidey-hole to another so that is what he was doing one late morning in December. It was a cold day with the gray sky hanging on the very chimney pots of Paris. But Armand did not mind because he had a tickly feeling that something new and exciting was going to happen to him today.

He hummed a gay tune to himself as he pushed his buggy through the flower market at the side of Notre Dame cathedral.

The flowers reminded him that someday it would be spring even though it wasn't bad winter yet.

There were pots of fragile hyacinths and tulips crowded together on planks in front of the stalls. There were pink carnations and oleanders in great tin pails. Most of all there were bouquets of red-beaded holly, clumps of white-pearled mistletoe and little green fir trees because it would soon be Christmas.

Armand's keen eye caught sight of a pile of broken branches and wilted flowers swept away from one stall. "Anabel" was the name written over the stall, and Armand touched his black beret to the stocky woman whose blue work apron hung below her wooly coat.

"By your leave and in gratitude for your generosity, madame," he said to thewoman who was surely Anabel. He piled the broken branches on top of his belongings in the baby buggy. Then he fastidiously picked a sprig of dried holly from the litter and pulled it through his torn buttonhole. He wanted to look his best for whatever gay adventure was waiting for him this day.

The woman who must have been Anabel only frowned at Armand as he trundled his buggy toward the Rue de Corse. Past the ancient buildings he shuffled, his buggy headed for the far branch of the Seine River.

But as he entered the square in front of Notre Dame, a hand grasped his arm from behind.

"Your fortune, monsieur, " wheedled a musical voice. "You will meet with adventure today."

Armand let go of the handle of the buggy and whirled around to face a gypsy woman in a short fur coat and full, flowered skirt.

He gave her a gap-toothed smile. "You, Mireli," he greeted her. "Your people are back in Paris for the winter? "

The gypsy woman's dark face beamed under the blue scarf. "Doesn't one always spend the winters in Paris? " she asked, as if she were a woman of fashion. "But have you taken to the streets so early?"

Armand shrugged his shoulders under the long overcoat that almost reached to his ankles. "It's back under the bridge for me," he answered. "I've had enough of the crowded corners and tight alleys in the Place Maubert. And I'm tired of sorting rags for that junk dealer. I'm ready for that adventure you're promising me."

Mireli could understand. "That courtyard we rent seems like a cage after the freedom of the long, winding roads," she said, "but the men have found plenty of work for the winter. A city with as many restaurants as Paris has more than enough pots and pans to be mended. Of course the children can talk of nothing but the fields and woods of spring."

"I can't abide children, grumped Armand. "Starlings they are. Witless, twittering, little pests."

Mireli shook her finger at him. "You think you don't like children, " she said, "but it is only that you are afraid of them. You're afraid the sly little things will steal your heart if they find out you have one."

Armand grunted and took the handle of the buggy again. Mireli waved him away, swaying on bare feet squeezed into tarnished silver sandals. "If you change your mind about the bridge, you can come to live with us," she invited. "We're beyond the Halles — where they're tearing down the buildings near the old Court of Miracles."

Armand tramped under the black, leafless trees and around the cathedral by the river side without even giving it a glance.

In the green park behind the flying buttresses, some street urchins were loitering. Two of them played at dueling while a third smaller one watched, munching a red apple. The swordsmen, holding out imaginary swords, circled each other. Closer and closer came the clenched fists, then the boys forgot their imaginary swords and began punching each other.

They stopped their play as Armand went by. "Look at the funny old tramp! " one cried to his playmates.

Armand looked around because he wanted to see the funny old tramp too. It must be that droll Louis with his tall black hat and baggy pants. Then he realized that he was the funny old tramp.

"Keep a civil tongue in your head, starling," he ordered. He fingered the holly in his lapel. "If you don't, I'll tell my friend Father Christmas about your rude manners. Then you'll get nothing but a bunch of sticks like these on my buggy."

The boys looked at him with awe. Father Christmas is the Santa Claus of France. He rides down from the north on his little gray donkey and leaves presents for good children.

The small boy held out his half-eaten apple. "Are you hungry, monsieur?" he asked. "Would you like the rest of this apple? "

But the biggest boy mockingly punched the air with his fist. "Pouf!" he scoffed. "There's no Father Christmas.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    Ashley, a sixth grader in new york

    my language teacher had us read this book and i learned alot .I learned alot new words that I normally woudn't hear such as beret (a hat like) and tidbits (small morsell). I really enjoyed the story and i'm very thankful that my teacher actually shared that book with us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Childhood Favourite!

    I remember reading this book as a child and just loving it. Of course, the book fell apart like most of my other books after millions of readings and I forgot about it over the years. For some reason, the book popped into my head a few days ago and I couldn't remember the title. Thank goodness for Google!
    More than anything, the book spoke to me about being a family and having a father. When my mom would read it aloud to my younger sister and me, even as a little girl, I could just imagine the streets of Paris. That's how descriptive the book is. The illustrations by Garth Williams (from my other favourite childhood series: the "Little House" books) are simple, but elegant, with tiny details like rips in coats and the bristles on the old man's cheeks.
    This book is excellent for outloud reading at bedtime (a chapter a night!) and older kids just venturing into their "chapter book" adventure for the first time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2013

    Armand, an old hobo, lives in the olden days of Paris. In the fr

    Armand, an old hobo, lives in the olden days of Paris. In the freezing cold of December, he finds a small helpless family, and he surely can't leave them to fend for themselves. Grudgingly, he takes them in. He doesn't want to feel responsible for these 'starlings', as he calls the young children... but Armand immediately realizes that he must protect his soft heart before the children nuzzle their way into it.

    Together, this small bunch concocts their own simple Christmas festivities, in the middle of the city streets. Even though don't have any extra coins to spare, they try to find a way to celebrate the Christmas spirit.

    This is a lovely holiday story about finding out about the best presents to give. Join the little gang in this simply-written, but effective story. It might be a young children's book, but anyone young-at-heart will certainly enjoy "The Family Under the Bridge".

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  • Posted September 20, 2012

    The Family Under the bridge is a very good book with Santa Claus

    The Family Under the bridge is a very good book with Santa Claus and gypsies and lots of other exiting things like houses on wheels. I would recommend this book for the ages of nine and younger. This book is about an old Parisian beggar named Armand who enjoys his life, lives under a bridge, and is really resistant to children because he knows that if he cares for them or shows them that he likes them, because they will grow on him. So this whole story is about how he bonds with three children and cares for them as his own.
    The children who lived under the bridge knew that he would be their friend. Even though he wasn’t sure he wanted to be their friend because he knew they would have his heart. Although it did not take the old beggar very long to figure out that the kids were his family now. He loved them with all of his heart.
    He decided he would stay with the children in the end. In that moment he realized that he wouldn’t be living under a bridge anymore. He wouldn’t be a common beggar. He learned that he wasn’t going to be alone anymore. He would be with his new found family. He would be Armand. He would have… a happy ending.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    The Best Book Ever

    Introduction
    The novel is about a little old man that is very poor, and lives under a bridge. This man is recognized as a "grumpy" man. There was also a mother and children that have recently lost their home, and they ended up living underneath a bridge. One day these children were by themselves at the house and they came up to this man. In the end, they become a true family.

    Description and summary of main points
    The author is really a great author. She also wrote the book, "Much-Loved" Orpheline series, and "Surprise in the Mountains." This book gives a good life lesson on sticking together and being a family. It teaches you to never give up, because it will always turn out good no matter how bad the conditions are.

    Evaluation
    This story takes place in New York City. It is usually just the hobo, the children, and the mother in this story. The author is a great author, and does a great job at keeping me "hooked" on the book! This book kept me in great suspense the whole time I was reading it.
    Conclusion
    This novel is not very much a young children's book, it's more for middle school-aged kids. If you read this book I guarantee that you will very much enjoy it. It is not boring at all. It always leaves you in suspense, meaning wondering what's going to happen next.

    Your final review: This book is great, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! It sure kept me in suspense; I hope it does the same to you, also.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    The family under the bridge

    This book is great for vocabulary.My reading teacher told us to read it and i enjoyed it even though the teacher told us to read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    The Family Under the Bridge

    While being homeless himself, Almand finds a family under the bridge that is also homeless. He is daily trying to come up with money for food. One time he says, 'The street has a way of taking your pride.' The odd jobs that Almand does are all that he can come up with to get food to eat. As he tries to care for these children all they want is a ¿home¿ of their own. Is it possible for homeless, Armand to provide them with a home? Unwillingly he took in these children and they became a family. This book teaches that families are more than DNA. I think this book is somewhat outdated, but it still tells a great story with a moral message. Natalie Savage Carlson is remembered as the author of Orpheline series and Surprise in the Mountains. She was born in Kernstown, Virginia in 1906. She married a naval officer whom she traveled a lot with. Her travel experiences are strongly reflected in her books. Her characters are very diverse and so are the settings. Foreign words and phrases are used to show authenticity. When she was eight years old she published her first story on the children's page of the Baltimore Sunday Sun. Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Family Under the Bridge. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1990.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    a homeless person finds a family

    I thought it was about a family under a bridge.No I don't feel the same about the book because everyone got what they wanted. I like this book because it is family and you learn from this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2004

    Love triumps over poverty

    Even though the Calcet family is very poor, they are rich in love. As Armand, an unloved hobo discovers, when we love others- great things are possible. Life is changed forever for Armand as he begins to feel responsible for the welfare of the Calcet children. Watch out for the positive transformations that occur in his character as you read this story of a true Christmas family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2004

    Timeless Classic

    I read this book when I was younger, but I always remember it as one of my favorites!! It teaches you to stick together. It taught me compassion. I love this book!! When I have children, I will read this to them all the time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    THIS BOOK IS COOL

    The book I read was about a family that lives under a bridge. When I first started reading this book it was boring. Then I got into the book and seen that they had it hard. They sang for money to get food and only wore the clothes they had on. What ever they had they pushed in a little buggy. You should read this book and maybe you will like it too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2001

    The Family Under the Bridge

    This is a story about a homeless guy who starts to give a little and ends up getting a job, an apartment, and an instant family (maybe even instant oatmeal!-ha ha). This shows that when you give, you get - a good thing for kids and adults to realize.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2001

    You Will Wish You Were Under the Bridge Too

    This book is the story of a grompy old hobo who hates children! He soon finds 3 kids under his winter home (a bridge.) He takes them to see the father of Christmas but all the children want is a house. Will the father of Chistmas bring them a house? Will Armand ever get a job? All your questions will be answered in this wonderful story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2001

    Great book

    Armand is a hobo, he doesn't like children until he meets Suzy,Paul,Evylene. It is almost Christmas and Suzy,Paul,Eveylene think he is Father Christmas.they ask him for a house because they are homeless people he said'how can I carry a house.'then they see the Gypsies leaving then Paul says if i were a big man i would earn enough money to buy a house.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2000

    Short n' Sweet

    It's a short book filled with togetherness. It includes couragiousness and the love of a family through people who are less fortunate than most. The people learn to stick together when times are tough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2000

    One student's recommendation. . .

    Every Friday morning the entire school community at Ridgewood Intermediate School 93, drops everything to read for enjoyment! One Friday last year a student was reading this book and recommended it to me. I read it just before Christmas 1998, and I fell in love with the hobo, the gypsies, and the three redheaded children. I went to Paris in July 1999, and as I walked along the quay, I remembered the Christmas Eve party for all the hoboes of Paris under the Tournelle Bridge. I liked this story so much, I am now sharing it with my sixth-grade classes. Everyone seems to be enjoying it too. We are having lively class discussions about everything Parisianne, family relationships, the history of gypsies, work ethics, and much more. The book has nine well-developed chapters for independent reading. The author's choice of words makes the story come alive for the reader. I am enjoying it even more the second time around, sharing it with my students.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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