DAVE AT NIGHT by Gail Carson Levine


Age Range: 8 - 12
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PLB 0-06-028154-5 Knowing only that her father grew up in an orphanage in New York on the edge of Harlem, Levine (Ella Enchanted, 1997) weaves a tale of an adventurous boy who stumbles into the world of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1926, orphanages were still cruel places, who took in children whose relatives refused to care for them. When Dave’s father dies, an uncle takes in his brother Gideon, but no one will take him. He ends up in the Hebrew Home for Boys and quickly makes friend with most of the other boys, but angers the violent superintendent, Mr. Bloom (Mr. Doom, as the boys nickname him). Dave’s one solace is to climb over the institution’s wall at night, to sample the outside world. He’s befriended by Solly, an elderly Jewish fortuneteller with a parrot; Solly takes him along to a rent party, where Dave meets Irma, an African-American girl who is his age. His new friends invite him to more parties, attended by some of the shakers and movers of the Harlem Renaissance. Eventually, Solly and Irma, with the help of Irma’s influential mother, help Dave to overthrow the tyrannical Mr. Bloom, and improve the orphanage. Levine’s writing is believable and personable; historical details ring true, especially the energy among African-Americans during the 1920s artistic flowering, and the particulars of Jewish and Yiddish culture. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-028153-7
Page count: 278pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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