This lovely and interesting story is told in graphic novel format and contains more illustrations than text.
A little shoeshine boy, the main protagonist, is not doing much business. As he invites customers, a red scarf drifts down to him from a local resident’s laundry line. He goes from neighbor to neighbor searching for the owner of this scarf, climbing on rooftops and scaling down drainpipes. On his journey, he meets friendly local residents of every ethnic background, each one of whom introduces him to an expression in their language. We meet Irish, Chinese, Polish, Jamaican, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Italian, Jewish, and African American immigrants, all of them helpful and many of who give a treat or a penny to the boy. At the end he keeps the scarf and is finally successful in getting at least one customer to agree to have his shoes shined. The dialogue is charming.
Pictures truly evoke a bygone era, with adults and children dressed in old-fashioned clothes. One two-page spread is a perfect introduction to the Lower East Side or other immigrant neighborhood at the turn of the century. The street is filled with carts and horses, and the sidewalks are crowded with shoppers and merchants selling from pushcarts.
The book does not have substantial Jewish content; rather Jewish residents of this neighborhood are introduced. The local rabbi is one of the residents the boy interviews on his search for the owner of the lost scarf.
A “laundry list of words to know” follows the story. It contains the foreign terms used in the book.
Beautiful illustrations are done in digital pencil, watercolor, and pastel and are perfect in setting the tone for the era and the story. End papers illustrate several laundry lines filled with old-fashioned men and women’s clothing.
Recommended as a read-to for ages 4 – 6, and as an independent read for ages 6 – 8.