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10 thoughts on “The Family Under the Bridge

  1. Susan Budd Susan Budd says:

    As the Christmas season draws near, I am reminded of a beautiful children s book set in Paris at Christmas time The Family Under the Bridge, by American author Natalie Savage Carlson The Family Under the Bridge is a celebration of the City of Light, a celebration of generosity and kindness, and a celebration of family sticking together through tough times Reading this book is like being taken on a walking tour of Paris And no ordinary walking tour of Paris a walking tour of Paris conduct As the Christmas season draws near, I am reminded of a beautiful children s book set in Paris at Christmas time The Family Under the Bridge, by American author Natalie Savage Carlson The Family Under the Bridge is a celebration of the City of Light, a celebration of generosity and kindness, and a celebration of family sticking together through tough times Reading this book is like being taken on a walking tour of Paris And no ordinary walking tour of Paris a walking tour of Paris conducted by an old hobo who would rather live in Paris than anywhere else At the beginning of the story, Armand walks past Notre Dame Cathedral He descends to the cobbled quay along the Seine river and returns to his favored spot under the bridge It is there that he meets the three homeless children who will steal his heart Together they walk among the crowd of holiday shoppers on the Rue de Rivoli, visit Father Christmas at the Louvre, and attend a Christmas Eve party under Tournelle Bridge When Armand takes the children to see the gypsies, they first stop by Les Halles, the fresh food market, and then walk past St Eustache Church, down Rue de Petits Carreaux with itspatterns of cobbles so tiny that they looked like mosaic58 , and on to the gypsy encampment at the Court of Miracles Other places of mention are the Place Maubert, Rue de Montorgueil, Rue de l Opera, the Theatre Francais, and the Jardin des Plantes, the Parisian botanical garden Carlson lovingly presents the sights of Paris through the eyes of the Calcet children One especially pretty scene occurs at the Christmas Eve party under Tournelle BridgeBut Suzy s eyes were looking across the river to the little Isle of the Cit , where Notre Dame was illuminated like a saint s dream Its flying buttresses and tall, fragile arrow were frosted with light83 Despite the beauty of this scene, one never forgets that the Calcet children are poor and homelessParis had turned white overnight It was a beautiful sight for those who could stand in a warm room and look through a window51 Though their widowed mother works long hours at the laundry, she doesn t earn enough for rent Their future is uncertain Suzy, Paul, and Evelyne are cold and hungry, their clothes are ill fitting and mismatched, and they cannot even go to school The hobo life that so comfortably suits Armand is a calamity for the Calcets, but he shares his food, his philosophy, and his friendship Armand has cultivated an appreciation for the simple pleasures and virtues of the poor For lunch, he enjoys the aroma of food coming from a restaurant He picks through the refuse at a flower stall to find himself a spring of holly for his buttonhole And he carries around one shoe because it fits well and, who knows, its mate might show up someday But most importantly, he values the kindness and generosity exhibited by the poor toward each other This is made explicit when he lectures Madame Calcet on the gypsies Madame Calcet think gypsies are just thieves, but Armand defends themWhat is wrong with gypsies asked Armand Why do you think you are better Are you kinder Are yougenerous71 Madame Calcet is an honest and hard working woman, but she needs help and it is not easy for her to accept the generosity of others She is upset when she learns that her children accepted food from Armand and she tries to distance herself from the other homeless people at the Christmas Eve party when she offers to help serve the dinner But Armand reminds her of her own words about family sticking togetherWell, we re all God s big poor family, so we need to stick together and help each other72.Setting her pride aside, Madame Calcet accepts the gypsies generosity Armand has taught her a valuable lesson, but he has a lesson to learn as well Armand does not like children or so he says He calls them starlings and fears they will steal his heart But Armand s real fear is revealed in chapter oneThese starlings would steal your heart if you didn t keep it well hidden And he wanted nothing to do with children They meant homes and responsibility and regular work all the things he had turned his back on so long ago7 8 Armand doesn t like to work Twice he turns down job offers This sets him apart from the other poor people in the story, like the hobo Camille who works as a department store Father Christmas, or Louis who works as a pusher at Les Halles, or the gypsies who earn their living mending pots and pans Armand is good and kind and generous, but he idolizes the carefree hobo life He speaks fondly of the good old days of Paris when a bell was rung in the marketplace as a signal to the hobos that they could pick up their scraps 15 and he extols the Court of Miracles, the beggars slum, as a place of feasting and merry making 59 But something is missing from Armand s life, though it isn t easy for him to admit In one poignant scene, he is attending Midnight Mass on the Tournelle quay with the Calcet family and he tries to prayIn his misery he raised his eyes high over the altar up to the stars in the Paris sky Please, God, he said, moving his lips soundlessly, I ve forgotten how to pray All I know now is how to beg So I m begging you to find a roof for this homeless family88 This scene is especially moving because from the very beginning Armand was presented with the cathedral in the backgroundArmand tramped under the black, leafless trees and around the cathedral by the river side without ever giving it a glance5.Then he grinslike one of the roguish gargoyles on the cathedral7.And now he is praying.Before meeting the Calcet children, Armand was content with his small solitary worldThe lights of Paris were floating in the river, but the only light in the tunnel flickered from a tiny fire Armand had made16 Back then he sat under the bridge, a place lit only by his own little fire He didn t see the lights of Paris He didn t see the illuminated cathedral Now he looks up to the stars He looks up and he prays in the only way he knows how And all because three little starlings have stolen his heart.Just as Madame Calcet must learn to have less pride, Armand must learn to haveThis delightful story is enlivened by Carlson s endearing characters and rich description The Calcets are winsome children There s Suzy, the eldest, determined to keep her family together, Paul who boasts of how he d find his family a home if he were bigger, Evelyne, the littlest Calcet, and Jojo the dog who knows how to behave himself at mass Carlson s portraits of hobos and gypsies reveal their kindness and generosity, their readiness to share what they have and help those even less fortunate than themselves No one is perfect, but everyone is good Armand hates work, but he shares his food with the children and Jojo The gypsies are wanderers and thieves, but they shelter the homeless Calcet family and share Christmas with them The gypsies are described as colorful and wonderfully strange Mireli is first seen in the square at Notre Dame offering to tell fortunes She s dressed in a blue scarf, flowered skirt, short fur coat, and tarnished silver sandals Later the Calcet children meet Tinka, a gypsy girl with bangs and golden earrings Tinka teaches Suzy about St Sara and tells her of the gypsy s annual pilgrimage to Provence But as exotic as they are, the gypsies have something important in common with the Calcets They believe in sticking together too The Family Under the Bridge is a heartwarming tale that is as sweet as roasted chestnuts, as innocent as freshly fallen snow, and as charming as little Suzy s Christmas wish Joyeux No l


  2. Sheri Sheri says:

    Hard work, determination, the support of others, and maybe just a bit of luck on your side can really turn things around Those should have been the lessons learned from reading this but that s not the message I was picking up I must be missing something, I don t understand the appeal and the numerous great reviews Underwhelming even for this softhearted reader 1 1 2 stars.


  3. Jessica Jessica says:

    Ordered this last year from the kids book order, because it was a a Christmas book I ve never heard of, and b a Newbery Honor book I had never heard of Then I ended up not reading it aloud to the kids as I had intended, because I saw some reviews saying that it would be upsetting for kids who believe in Santa Claus This year I thought I d better read it first, since my daughter just turned 8 wanted to read it Hm I guess those reviews about it ruining Santa are from people who expected S Ordered this last year from the kids book order, because it was a a Christmas book I ve never heard of, and b a Newbery Honor book I had never heard of Then I ended up not reading it aloud to the kids as I had intended, because I saw some reviews saying that it would be upsetting for kids who believe in Santa Claus This year I thought I d better read it first, since my daughter just turned 8 wanted to read it Hm I guess those reviews about it ruining Santa are from people who expected Santa Claus to swoop down and rescue the family I dunno I don t have a problem with it Armand, the crotchety homeless man who takes three children and their mother, newly homeless, under his wing, takes the children to see the Father Christmas at a store It s obvious that the man is just hired to play Father Christmas, he is in fact a good friend of Armand s I think any kids old enough to read this book, or follow along as its read to them, don t have trouble with mall Santas being hired to play the part The children in the book ask him for a house, which he explains he cannot bring them, because he can t carry it Also fine But that aside, it s a sweet little story It reminds me of many of the old fashioned books of yore, when you can have your POV character in a children s book be an older man, and when such matters as not enough money, and not wanting to go to an orphanage, were dealt with in simple and matter of fact terms The book has a happy ending The children are never in real peril When they are hungry, they find a scrappy way to get some money and buy food, ditto when they are cold It reminds me, in fact, of a mix of The Boxcar Children and just a smidge of Miracle on 34th Street, though the miracles are definitely manmade here


  4. Hilary Hilary says:

    Monsieur Armand is a homeless person living in Paris, sleeping under bridges and I think the book suggests, is happy with his lot He then meets a widow and her children The children soon become attached to Monsieur Armand and call him Grandfather The story tells of the hardships of living on the street but the kindnesses encountered too We liked the part where they lived with the gypsies and the christmas eve party.This was a lovely story but I don t know why the author continually refered t Monsieur Armand is a homeless person living in Paris, sleeping under bridges and I think the book suggests, is happy with his lot He then meets a widow and her children The children soon become attached to Monsieur Armand and call him Grandfather The story tells of the hardships of living on the street but the kindnesses encountered too We liked the part where they lived with the gypsies and the christmas eve party.This was a lovely story but I don t know why the author continually refered to Monsieur Armand as the hobo or the tramp, I changed this and used his name and explained how the book was written in times when this seemed okay There were also references to homeless people not washing and being too lazy to work.The overall story was very nice, and sympathetic to the people that it represented There was some beautiful artwork, I suspect, like the cover they were originally watercolour but all illustrations inside are now black and white


  5. Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* says:

    A truly heartwarming story for all ages I fell in love the aged hobo who was content in life just being in his version of freedom, the adorable dog who should have been white but wasn t, Jo Jo, the small children with their cute questions and wonders Suzy who wanted school, Paul who would have been just as happy never going back The book has different turns and events in the decently sized children s story from different homes to different discoveries Some nudges of coy humor slip in like A truly heartwarming story for all ages I fell in love the aged hobo who was content in life just being in his version of freedom, the adorable dog who should have been white but wasn t, Jo Jo, the small children with their cute questions and wonders Suzy who wanted school, Paul who would have been just as happy never going back The book has different turns and events in the decently sized children s story from different homes to different discoveries Some nudges of coy humor slip in like with the tree , or the food that fell into the cart and the fortune at the end is gained not through just luck but coming together Definitely a beautiful Christmas story it may not be a direct Christmas story, but it happens at Christmas New Year time so it s going in the books as that for me His prayer was touching as he said he s forgotten how to pray, but not beg.Armand starts the book by saying he avoids children because he worries about emotional involvement and at the end it s not just the characters heartstrings that were tugged by the children, but mine too.As a bonus, detailed pencil drawings decorated the book, adding a lot to the story


  6. Manybooks Manybooks says:

    Now I both appreciate and actively love the in Natalie Savage Carlson s Newbery Honour winning The Family Under the Bridge generally positive and uncritical, non judgmental depiction of French homelessness and that Armand is narrationally presented by the author asthan happy and content with his chosen lifestyle and that he is thus also not to be considered as an inherently problematic at best individual simply because he lives outside and deliberately chooses to do so although I personal Now I both appreciate and actively love the in Natalie Savage Carlson s Newbery Honour winning The Family Under the Bridge generally positive and uncritical, non judgmental depiction of French homelessness and that Armand is narrationally presented by the author asthan happy and content with his chosen lifestyle and that he is thus also not to be considered as an inherently problematic at best individual simply because he lives outside and deliberately chooses to do so although I personally would much prefer for Natalie Savage Carlson to call Armand using the French term clochard, as that is a much less imbued with automatic negativity and criticism moniker than the English language terms hobo or tramp tend to be And yes indeed, evenpersonally appreciated is that in The Family Under the Bridge, Armand s Gypsy friends are also not automatically considered and approached by the author as possible, as probable nasty thieves and criminals and that in fact, it is faroften Madame Calcet who faces the most and in my opinion deserved authorial criticism, who is negatively portrayed when she at first would rather her children remain alone and cold under a bridge, friendless and without support than having Armand and later the Gypsies act and function as the children s protectors and helpers and as such, I also have to admit that I do personally rather vehemently despise those readers, those reviewers who only see and consider Armand as a homeless and lazy good for nothing, when on every page of The Family Under the Bridge, Armand is always and glowingly shown as a true gentleman in every way, with a heart of pure gold But indeed, the only reason why my rating for The Family Under the Bridge is four and not five stars, is that in fact I personally do not all that much like and accept how at the very end of the novel, Natalie Savage Carlson just has to turn Armand from a clochard into a working man with a home, as personally, I for one would prefer for Armand to be able to keep his outside existence on the streets of Paris, even after he has found a home and a job from home for Madame Calcet and her children for sorry, but the ending of The Family Under the Bridge has just felt a wee bit too Protestant work ethic to and for me and kind of even to a certain extent seems to somewhat negate and denigrate the positive depiction of French clochards that is part and parcel to The Family Under the Bridge for most of the author s featured and presented textual storyline


  7. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    A very short and sweet book about a homeless man in Paris, his friends the gypsies, and his new friends, a fatherless family evicted from their apartment I read it a couple of times as a child, and was delighted to find it an even better read as an adult A wee bit schmaltzy, but still splendid Read it aloud with your family at Christmas It may not focus on Christmas per se, but it is about love, and it does take place in late December.


  8. Heather Heather says:

    I read this last night in a little under an hour, so it s a short read I really liked parts of it, but others bothered For the good, it was a sweet little story of a man changing his heart because of some children he met I enjoyed the characters While there wasn t a lot of time spent on their development, they were lovable and you wanted so badly for their lives to get better It was nice to see how they stuck together and tried to stay together and keep cheerful even during the hardest of t I read this last night in a little under an hour, so it s a short read I really liked parts of it, but others bothered For the good, it was a sweet little story of a man changing his heart because of some children he met I enjoyed the characters While there wasn t a lot of time spent on their development, they were lovable and you wanted so badly for their lives to get better It was nice to see how they stuck together and tried to stay together and keep cheerful even during the hardest of times.What I didn t like There was an instance of stealing which was portrayed as well, we re starving so it s okay to steal The reason this bothered me so much was because the man COULD work, he just chose not to Even if he didn t want a steady job at the time he could have worked for a day and earned enough money for a few day s worth of food There were also a few times where lying was shown as appropriate I could take the time to discuss these moral issues with my children, but overall, while it was a nice little story, it didn t wow and I think we could miss this without feeling like we d skipped an important book


  9. Krista the Krazy Kataloguer Krista the Krazy Kataloguer says:

    I absolutely loved this story of how a homeless family in France finds a home Charming


  10. Kellyn Roth Kellyn Roth says:

    I think I read this a while back but it wasn t memorable I think.


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The Family Under the Bridge [PDF / Epub] ★ The Family Under the Bridge By Natalie Savage Carlson – Thomashillier.co.uk 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 themBut the chi This is the delightfully warm Under the MOBI ó and enjoyable story of an old The Family PDF or Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life Children, he said, were Family Under the PDF È like starlings, and one was better off without themBut 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 bridgeArmand and the children s adventures around Paris complete with gypsies and a Santa Claus make a story which children will treasure.