Susan Kantor was a senior writer/editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a children’s book editor, and a past judge for the National Jewish Book Awards in the illustrated children’s book category. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Museum in New York City, where she leads public and private tours.
Ten-year-old Ben lives with his widowed mother, older sister, and brother in the poorest part of a large Canadian town, along with other Jewish immigrants. And though Mama works long hours at a factory and Ben’s sister and brother have quit school to work full-time, “there’s never a penny left over.” Ben, “full of hope” and “determined not to live in poverty forever,” decides he, too, must get a job. He’s entrusted with the use of a bicycle to deliver hat linings to a factory across town. But when he tries to hitch a ride up a hill by grabbing onto the brass pole of a passing trolley, he takes a hard fall and the hat linings scatter everywhere. Even worse, the conductor calls him a guttersnipe, an ugly epithet often hurled at children of the slums. Ben is devastated. And then, almost miraculously, he realizes he is “just a boy, just starting out” with “many things left to learn and experience.” The accident is not an end to his hopes and dreams, it is a beginning. Emily Arnold McCully’s charming ink-andwatercolor illustrations provide many details of the clothing, hair styles, shops, and street scenes of the early 20th century. Ages 5 – 9.
Jewish literature inspires, enriches, and educates the community.
Help support the Jewish Book Council.