J.T. by Jane. Wagner


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J.T. started as a CBS Children's Hour production and its assets--photos that talk, talk that resonates--reflect its origin; the connecting narrative is stiffer and sometimes out of key altogether. But the drama remains--of a Harlem boy unperceived by his anxious mother (""Seems you been turning bad since the day your daddy left"") or his obtuse teacher, who finds a bloodied, one-eyed alley cat, nurses it and feeds it and builds it a marvel of a house from the rubbish in the empty lot. His mother brushes off his pleas to take Bones in and, learning that he's been buying tuna fish on credit, bemoans her lot; the elderly Jewish shopkeepers (a sympathetic pair who bicker continuously) turn him away; the teacher castigates him for truancy (""Well, J.T. what made you honor us with a visit today?"" and on and on); and then the bigger boys who've been trailing him find and flaunt Bones, who gets away only to be run over by a car. Throughout (grand) Mama Melcy is a comforting presence, now for J.T.'s distraught mother too, and shopkeeper Mr. Rosen plays an unassuming Santa Claus, bringing an abandoned kitten and responding when J.T. asks for a job. Following J.T.'s ""It's beginning to feel like Christmas,"" a final full-page photo of Bones' house in the snow--which must have brought tears on TV and won't leave many untouched notwithstanding the flurry of sentiment.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1969
Publisher: Van Nostrand Reinhold