BEANS ON THE ROOF by Betsy Byars
Kirkus Star


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In a novel that is hardly more difficult than an easy reader (though longer), the Beans are a typical Byars family: Papa sells fruits and vegetables; they live in an apartment house from which they wave at neighbors across the street; and they are distinguished by their common-sense and love for one another rather than by their cleverness. Sensibly, no one is allowed on the roof, which is reserved for a neighbor's rabbits and the laundry; but today Anna Bean is up there--with permission--writing a poem to be included in a book being compiled at school. Soon the other Bean children join her--they too will write poems. George wants to write "the best poem in the world," but has trouble with writer's block; Little Jenny's brief poem comes more easily. Even Mrs. Bean produces a poem--not great, she says, "but it is a true one." Anna is proud of her own effort, but it is not picked for the book after all; still, as her father points out, the important thing is that she was the first Bean to write a poem; if she goes on writing, one may yet be in a book. The way Byars can explore a loving family--and the act of creation--through such a simple device is little short of miraculous. She holds attention; she makes every word count; she devises believable, childlike verse--and does it all with a clear eye, a gently amused voice, and disarming affection. Young readers should be delighted.
Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1988
ISBN: 0440403146
Page count: 84pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1988


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