WHEN PIRATES CAME TO BROOKLYN by Phyllis Shalant

WHEN PIRATES CAME TO BROOKLYN

Age Range: 8 - 11
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KIRKUS REVIEW

After her best friend moves away, sixth-grader Lee Bloom meets some neighborhood children whose imaginative games fighting pirates in the attic of their home capture her imagination. It is 1960 and Lee attends the local public school while her new best friend, Polly Burke, goes to parochial school. Her new friend’s Catholicism presents problems for Lee on more than one front. Lee is Jewish and her mother, who came to Poland as a girl but whose parents perished in the Holocaust, distrusts all non-Jews. Her fears about permitting Lee to play at Polly’s house are partly justified when Polly’s mother leaves religious tracts in Lee’s books urging her to be saved before it is too late. Disturbed as she is by the prediction that she will go to hell, Lee refuses to blame Polly for the actions and attitudes of Polly’s mother. Nevertheless, Lee cannot disobey her own mother, who has forbidden her to play with Polly. Meanwhile, a school project about George Washington Carver makes Lee increasingly aware of the existence of prejudice and intolerance, which, as she observes from the behavior of the adults around her, has not yet disappeared. Lee herself slips when, in anger, she insults the African-American super of her apartment building who has befriended Lee’s nemesis, Eddie. Everyone is reconciled in a satisfying conclusion, except perhaps the unrepentant Mrs. Burke. The fantasy game involving pirates and Peter Pan that so engages Lee and her friends may strike readers of a comparable age as childish, but Shalant (Bartelby of the Mighty Mississippi, 2000, etc.) tells a good story that emphasizes the relationships among the characters rather than the religious or political issues. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-46920-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2002




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