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GUTTERSNIPE by Jane Cutler


by Jane Cutler and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: May 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-374-32813-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ben’s mother works overtime at the factory and takes in boarders. His older brother and sister work at several jobs. So Ben resolves to help too and takes an after-school job delivering hat linings on his boss’s bicycle. But an encounter with a streetcar causes a near disaster, only averted by a magical moment that leads to hope and new beginnings. Both the text and McCully’s lovely illustrations depict a nostalgic, glowing recollection of an early-20th-century Canadian city. Everything is bright and clean, and Ben and his family seem cheerful and positive. Or is that only how Ben sees things until he hears the pejorative title word directed at him? But readers don’t see the harsh realities either, defusing the magic of Ben’s small miracle. The drama is actually in the tone of author’s note, in which Cutler indicates that Ben’s tale is based on the severe hardship and poverty her father experienced in his childhood and his determination to make a better life. Would she had developed that into a story instead of writing this fable. (Picture book. 6-9)