WHEN PIRATES CAME TO BROOKLYN

Phyllis Shalant, Author . Dutton $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-525-46920-9

This tender novel explores how clashing values, religions and cultures affect a Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn in 1960. Lee Bloom's sixth-grade year is one of discovery. As she learns at school about segregation in the South, she begins noticing incidents of prejudice in her own neighborhood. Lee realizes with dismay that even she is guilty of casting unfair judgment. Like many of her classmates, she has ostracized a boy because of the way he looks. Lee finds temporary escape from her imperfect world when she plays imaginary pirate games with her new-found friend, Polly, who has been "visited" by Peter Pan and believes the two of them can learn to "fly." However, when Polly's mother tries to convert Lee to Christianity, Lee's mother forbids her daughter to play with Polly. Shalant (Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi; Beware of Kissing Lizard Lips) draws a striking contrast between harsh realities and childhood innocence and achieves a delicate balance between heart-wrenching events and uplifting scenes that convey the girls' sense of tolerance and compassion. With the story's hint of magic, the author invites readers to open their minds and look beyond appearances. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/12/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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