SING OUT, CHARLEY! by Margaret Hodges


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Merry Christmas charity. Charley, of What's for Lunch. . . ? (1961), is worried about Mr. Frisco, the foreign newspaper vendor near the King Charles Hotel: he's thin -- is he hungry? he has no gloves -- aren't his fingers cold? After the school pageant comes the start of Christmas vacation, and Mr. Frisco isn't on his corner; his wife just had a baby, doorman Mr. Murphy tells Charley when Charley goes into the hotel kitchen to see the festive board. Then Charley gets two dollars from relatives, just what he needs to buy gloves for Mr. Frisco. On Christmas Eve Charlie, his father and a few friends go carolling, stopping once at the home of a Swedish classmate (whose mother bemoans the absence of candles and Santa Lucia), then, simultaneously with Mr. Murphy, at the Friscos'. Mr. Murphy has brought Christmas dinner from the hotel kitchen, Charley and the children have brought not only the gloves but also the animals they made for the school creche (no separation of church and state here), which prompts Mr. Francesco (Frisco was a corruption) to tell the legend of St. Francis and the first manger. A very diffused story (tightened up in the synopsis); in any case, too parternalistic for the self-help present.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux