This was a Goncourt contender and immensely successful in France (200,000 copies although these figures are usually irrelevant here) and it could not be more unassuming, cruising as it does through the streets of a poor quarter in Paris of the '30's under the shadow of Sacre Coeur. With Olivier Chateauneuf, a ten-year-old, whose mother died suddenly. She ran a notions shop and also indulged in other ones. Paul for a time is permitted to stay with his recently married and soon to be jobless cousin Jean -- they're glad to have him out of the house in the evening as well as the daytime which is when he plays all those street games (safety matches, among other things) or visits with the neighborhood characters -- Mado a prostitute and Spider a cripple and the bibulous Bougras who will teach him that ""there's everything in Zola."" Indeed -- much of the small change of verbatim experience such as this along with a few irreducible simplicities -- ""How gay life could be, and how sad."" A little of each with solemn, suggestible, lonely, independent and the very responsive Olivier.