Illustrated by Garth Williams
Finished: June 20, 2008
First Published: 1958
Genre: children fiction,
Award: Newbery Honor
Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 8yo
Once there was an old hobo named Armand who wouldn't have lived anywhere but in Paris.
Comments: The Calcet family is homeless after their father dies and they take up residence under a bridge. Along comes Armand the hobo to find this family in his place. Armand is not particularly fond of children but they soon capture his heart and he finds himself looking after the children and the welfare of the family. The children wish for more than anything that Father Christmas will bring them a house for Christmas and Armand tries hard to keep their spirits up. Trouble comes in a pair of do-gooder women who find the children under the bridge and send for the police to take them to a home for children. Madame Calcet is at work and Armand must get the children to safety before they are taken away.
I've read this book several times now and always find it a joy. Garth Williams' illustrations are just as wonderful as ever. It is a beautiful, gentle story with genuine feeling. Sad at times and laugh out loud funny at others, the 8yo was very attached to it and concerned for the Calcet children. When I read the final words, "The End", the 8yo said "Awwww!" Always the sign of a good book when you wish it didn't have to end!