BEN AND ANNIE by Joan Tate


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Younger than Tate's other quietly sympathetic working class pairs, Ben, eleven, and Annie, two years older but smaller because of her lifelong illness, chat daily on the tick tock box (intercom) between their bedrooms, play checkers in her family's apartment downstairs, and get on swimmingly thanks to Annie's chipper spirits and Ben's rare tact and understanding. Then, despite her protective mother's anxieties, Ben begins to take Annie in her wheelchair on Saturday outings--to Woolworth's, then to the park where she watches Ben and his friends play soccer--and even the doctor notes that it does her good. But then one Saturday at the Slags, as Ben and Steve are giving Annie a joyful run on the slope in her chair, a stranger misinterprets her cries, cuffs the boys for terrorizing her, and marches them all home to her parents who promptly rip out the tick tock and end the relationship. A readymade ending (and why must Annie remain silent about the incident?) to a stock heartstring-tweaking situation, but disarmingly understated as always.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1974
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Doubleday