Mr. Bow Tie

Mr. Bow Tie

by Karen Barbour

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mr. Bow Tie is homeless. Come rain or shine the colorfully clothed gentleman lives on the street outside a small grocery store. As told by the boy whose parents own the store, Barbour's ( Nancy ; Little Nino's Pizzeria ) picture book presents the social phenomenon of homelessness in uncomplicated prose and bold artwork, painting a very real picture of a bustling city neighborhood. Amid the hubbub, Mr. Bow Tie is befriended. He helps out at the store and finally--through the efforts of the narrator's family--is reunited with his aging parents. While in keeping with her sunny illustrations and upbeat text, Barbour's unlikely happy ending is off-putting in its relentless cheeriness. Her efforts in bringing this pressing problem to children's attention are commendable; the book's unrealistic resolution, however, ultimately undermines these good intentions. In sobering contrast to a somewhat misleading portrayal are the statistics on homelessness--and a contact address--that appear on the book's back flap. A more clear-eyed--and ultimately heartwarming--treatment of this topic can be found in last season's Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-- Something of an urban fairy tale for the '90s, based on a true story. Mr. Bow Tie, who does not speak, is befriended and fed by a storekeeper and his family, who reunite the man with his parents. The child's first-person narration is brief (one or two sentences per page), and the story is plainly told, but it is graceful in its spare simplicity, and conveys a great deal of information. Much of it will require explanation, however, such as the phrase ``decorated war hero.'' The bold, bright watercolor and gouache folk-art paintings depict a crowded cityscape chockablock with people, movement, and color; Mr. Bow Tie is shown as a nonthreatening eccentric. The illustrations do not belie the gravity of the subject, nor are they at odds with the story's hopeful intent. This is a gentle, humane introduction to homelessness. Two caveats: readers may notice that Mr. Bow Tie looks implausibly clean throughout, and that his many costumes make him look like a clown. Secondly, the story's happy ending is seldom realized in life. This book stands in contrast to Bunting's affecting Fly Away Home (Clarion, 1991); it is more optimistic and less somber. Teachers and librarians who wish to address this complex social issue will want to own both books, and perhaps use them together. --Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT

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Product Details

Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
10.37(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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