THE OPTIMISTS OF NINE ELMS by Anthony Simmons

THE OPTIMISTS OF NINE ELMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps Peter Sellers' screen Old Sam had more bite and individuality than comes through here. In the book he's pretty much a stock gruff-old-shanty-dweller-with-heart-of-mush--doing funny little dances to chase the two strange children away from his ""property,"" buying them fish and chips almost the next moment, grumbling that his old dog Bella is getting lazy when he's really scared to death that she's dying, finally delivering a drunken lecture to the children's father about the needs of their souls. . . . His young visitors, who tag along as Old Sam plays his organ around London and later babysit with Bella when she's too weak to go with him, are a nine-year-old girl who tells the story and her brother Mark, six, both of whom feel neglected because Mum has a new baby and Dad works seven days at the gas works to furnish the new apartment he hopes to get in a public project. Old Sam helps the children buy a stray dog from a shelter, at first running off when he hears there's a fee but later advancing them baby-sitting money for the purchase. It turns out that the project doesn't allow dogs, but by moving time Bella has died and the children have spent a night in the Hyde Park dog cemetery where they go to bury her, so that in the end they have their Dad (who proved his concern during their disappearance) and Old Sam has the new dog. The publishers tell us that this was a best seller in England--the obvious American parallel is with Gaff Rock's TV and hardcover Thanksgiving Treasure (KR, 1974).

Pub Date: April 28th, 1975
Page count: 62pp
Publisher: Pantheon