When Pirates Came to Brooklyn

When Pirates Came to Brooklyn

by Phyllis Shalant
     
 
Lee Bloom is drawn to the house on Avenue J by mysterious voices from behind the rose trellis. It isn't long before the girl who lives there, Polly Burke, invites Lee in for a shipwreck, a poisoned-tea party, and-best of all-flying lessons. Then Polly reveals a secret-Peter Pan has told her he needs their help-and the newfound friends join forces to fight the pirates

Overview

Lee Bloom is drawn to the house on Avenue J by mysterious voices from behind the rose trellis. It isn't long before the girl who lives there, Polly Burke, invites Lee in for a shipwreck, a poisoned-tea party, and-best of all-flying lessons. Then Polly reveals a secret-Peter Pan has told her he needs their help-and the newfound friends join forces to fight the pirates who are coming by cloudship galleon.

But pirates aren't the only threat Lee and Polly must battle in Brooklyn, 1959. Their mothers' bigotry-Lee's against anyone not Jewish or white; Polly's against Lee for being Jewish-threatens the girls' friendship. This story of how two friends manage to fly above both pirates and prejudice will lift readers' hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This tender novel explores how clashing values, religions and cultures affect a Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn in 1960. Lee Bloom's sixth-grade year is one of discovery. As she learns at school about segregation in the South, she begins noticing incidents of prejudice in her own neighborhood. Lee realizes with dismay that even she is guilty of casting unfair judgment. Like many of her classmates, she has ostracized a boy because of the way he looks. Lee finds temporary escape from her imperfect world when she plays imaginary pirate games with her new-found friend, Polly, who has been "visited" by Peter Pan and believes the two of them can learn to "fly." However, when Polly's mother tries to convert Lee to Christianity, Lee's mother forbids her daughter to play with Polly. Shalant (Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi; Beware of Kissing Lizard Lips) draws a striking contrast between harsh realities and childhood innocence and achieves a delicate balance between heart-wrenching events and uplifting scenes that convey the girls' sense of tolerance and compassion. With the story's hint of magic, the author invites readers to open their minds and look beyond appearances. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Lee Bloom, 10, is an imaginative, intelligent, but lonely girl living in Brooklyn, NY, in 1960. Her best friend has moved away, and the last person she wants to befriend is her classmate Eddie Wagner, who seems to be spying on her, and teases her because she skipped a grade. When Lee meets vibrant Polly Burke, who makes roses "talk," creates settings for shipwrecks, and prepares to help Peter Pan defend Brooklyn against Captain Hook's pirates, the two girls know that they have found a kindred spirit in one another. However, Lee is Jewish, Polly is Catholic, and their bigoted mothers are fiercely prejudiced against the girls' friendship. As Lee struggles to remain friends with Polly, she also discovers an unlikely ally in coarse but good-hearted Eddie. Also, Lee's mother eventually reveals some redeeming qualities, but Polly's mother never moves beyond her fire-and-brimstone tracts. While other grown-ups offer wisdom where they can, Lee is an interesting character who is able to figure out and deal with her problems without adult intervention. Elements of magical realism enhance the story, as do scenes filled with humor, and the themes of prejudice and injustice may prompt readers toward further thought and discussion.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA
Kirkus Reviews
After her best friend moves away, sixth-grader Lee Bloom meets some neighborhood children whose imaginative games fighting pirates in the attic of their home capture her imagination. It is 1960 and Lee attends the local public school while her new best friend, Polly Burke, goes to parochial school. Her new friend's Catholicism presents problems for Lee on more than one front. Lee is Jewish and her mother, who came to Poland as a girl but whose parents perished in the Holocaust, distrusts all non-Jews. Her fears about permitting Lee to play at Polly's house are partly justified when Polly's mother leaves religious tracts in Lee's books urging her to be saved before it is too late. Disturbed as she is by the prediction that she will go to hell, Lee refuses to blame Polly for the actions and attitudes of Polly's mother. Nevertheless, Lee cannot disobey her own mother, who has forbidden her to play with Polly. Meanwhile, a school project about George Washington Carver makes Lee increasingly aware of the existence of prejudice and intolerance, which, as she observes from the behavior of the adults around her, has not yet disappeared. Lee herself slips when, in anger, she insults the African-American super of her apartment building who has befriended Lee's nemesis, Eddie. Everyone is reconciled in a satisfying conclusion, except perhaps the unrepentant Mrs. Burke. The fantasy game involving pirates and Peter Pan that so engages Lee and her friends may strike readers of a comparable age as childish, but Shalant (Bartelby of the Mighty Mississippi, 2000, etc.) tells a good story that emphasizes the relationships among the characters rather than the religious or political issues. (Fiction. 8-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525469209
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
09/28/2002
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Shalant teaches writing to both children and adults and has written a number of books for young readers.

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