WHEN THE RAGMAN SINGS by Judith Logan Lehne

WHEN THE RAGMAN SINGS

Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A carefully researched depiction of 1920's Baltimore (bibliography appended), set in a middle-class neighborhood of shops like the dry-goods store run by ten-year-old Dorothea's parents. The plot is original, if somewhat contrived: after her mother contracts pneumonia, Dorothea links her untimely death to ``Stubs,'' an unprepossessing black ragman whose rounds coincided with her illness and funeral. Despite others' racist attitudes, Dorothea learns Stubs's story (tragic family losses, interrupted college education, a disabling injury) and understands why he and her imaginative, lighthearted mother were friends. They had shared poetry that Stubs now offers to Dorothea; eventually her acceptance confirms their own friendship. Lehne's well- intentioned, quite touching story isn't always plausible, and it's weakened further by an imperfectly developed relationship between Dorothea and her grieving, still loving, father and by overabundant detail, more colorful than germane. Nonetheless, this is promising debut novel, with a likable, thoughtful protagonist, a vivid (if overdrawn) setting, and fresh, fluent writing touched with real lyricism. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-023316-8
Page count: 116pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1993