BROKEN UMBRELLAS by Kate Spohn

BROKEN UMBRELLAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gem of a book about the gradual transformation of an intelligent professor into an intelligent homeless woman. In Spohn's (Ruth's Bake Shop, 1990) hands the transformation is as natural as a change of season. The woman once lived where ""it was warm and where herons stood and where pastel shells lay on the beach."" Once, she ""liked wearing stylish clothes and owning lovely things."" After a while, however, she wanders off in what we begin to see is a simple and quite purposeful search: to locate more of the lovely things of the world -- ""newspapers, books, ladders with missing rungs, bicycle wheels, single shoes, bottle tops,"" and broken black umbrellas, her favorites, which ""resemble the bats that are supposed to bring good luck."" The warm oil-paintings are luminous with the strange complacency of a woman who's simply chosen to become a part of, rather than remain a bystander in, a world of beautiful things. Spohn clearly wants to take away the reflexive fear of homeless people from little kids (""You may cross over to avoid her smell. Or you may stop and listen to what she has to say""). It's an iffy proposition. Spohn completely skirts the issue of how miserable it is to be homeless, and few parents want their children to pal around with such peculiar strangers. But there's an elemental lesson in humanity here.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Viking