Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Edition: Hardcover, 2008
I did not know that this would have been so good. I did not expect that I would have loved it so much and that I could not stop reading it and pretty much finishing it in one “fell swoop.” It seems Dickensian, but that might not be a fair comparison because it is actually quite sparing and except for the intentional repetitive phrasing in those dream-like segments about the children “under the bridge” (and so effective, those poetic passages.. *sigh*), there is not that much repeated sentiment. I was drawn in, felt like I lived side by side with Joseph, and often was surprised at the richness and the vividness of the world I “saw” through the text. It doesn’t hurt that I (and my family) adore the sense of place and history and the bustling life of Coney Island.
I wasn’t sure at first about the vignettes of the children under the bridge but found them so mesmerizing and expanding of the experience of the turn-of-century Brooklyn – not only those who “made it” but of those who struggled and failed… I imagine that I’ll remember Joseph’s story for a long time, but I will never forget the Radiant Boy’s, or Mattie’s, or Otto’s, or the story of May who almost died from eating the poisonous meal, twice.
It’s an intricate tapestry and an “important tale” that is beautifully woven in the hand of artisan.