This work was actually first published in 1979, in those days of plenty, or so they say, but the message here is timeless. I have to admit right from the start that I got sort of misty eyed over this one, but then I am sort of a misty eyed old man when all is said and done so I suppose that is not an absolute indicator of how the book will affect you on a personal level, but affect you it will.
This is a simple story of a husband, wife and little boy who are just trying to get along in life. The parents and child live in a small, but adequate apartment in a city. They are pretty typical. The little boy wants a dog; has always wanted a dog, but when he asks his father for one, he is told that he cannot have one, as these are "tight times." You can tell that the family is under a lot of financial stress; mom has had to go to work and things are getting a bit rundown and instead of meat and potatoes for supper they get sort of a soupy lima bean soup. This is a typical middle class family with their back to the wall. Well the next day the father comes home and is obviously worried and depressed. While the little boy does not quite understand, it is very apparent that the father has lost his job. What is the family to do? Is this the end? Will it sink into complete despair? One thing for sure, there certainly will be no dog anytime soon in the little boys life.
As the young child is outside his building the next day, he hears a pitiful noise coming from an overflowing garbage can. A kindly lady stops and she and the child investigate. Low and behold they find a half starved, pathetic looking kitten which has obviously been dumped there. The little boy is told by the lady to take the kitten home and take care of it.
No spoilers here...you have to read it yourself to find out the fate of the kitten and little boy who wants a dog.
This is a well crafted story which is even more pertinent today than the day it was written. Thousands of families across our country are facing the dilemma this family is facing...this is real life folks!
As I said this story is touching on so many levels. All the people in the story are nice but simply have gotten caught up in a situation beyond their control. They find that love; love for each other and love for their family is a wonderful thing, a thing that can take them through the worse of "tight times." There is a great message here.
The art work in done in pencil drawings and realistic right down to the nitty-gritty as to domestic scenes and facial expressions. The artist, Trina Schart Hyman knows her craft and she has complimented the wonderful text by Barbara Shook Hazen perfectly. Now I will admit that the art work has a 1970s flavor about it; furniture, clothing and hair style, but that is to be expected when you consider when the book was first created. To have it differently would not be true to the story. This in not in the least distracting though and in facts adds to the value of the book. This is very detailed work here, very good on all levels.
This is a wonderful read for both young and old during these "tight times" that we are all facing today and it is a work that needs to be hauled off the bottom of the library shelf and resurrected to its rightful place. I do highly recommend this one.