The Acorn Eaters

Els Pelgrom, Author, Johanna H. Prins, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $16 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-30029-6
Based on the childhood memories of Pelgrom's (The Winter When Time Was Frozen) husband, this enlightening saga offers a rare glimpse of an impoverished sector of Spain following the Spanish civil war. Curro relates, in conversational first-person narration, his experiences as a ""road boy,"" who leaves school at age eight to help support his family of cave dwellers. He first takes charge of the livestock (a few pigs, a goat and a donkey), then, following in his father's footsteps, works for the local monastery. His quickness and ingenuity prove to be assets, allowing him to earn extra pesetas and to keep one step ahead of the guarda-jurados, who beat children for gathering firewood and berries. Through Curro's reflections on the lessons of his youth (e.g., ""It has helped me, learning to be quick when I was young. It has kept me fit"" and ""He was a good man, my father. Thanks to him, when I went looking for work far away from home later in life, often with hunger pinching my stomach, I never begged for money""), Pelgrom effectively conveys the oppression of Curro's people and the dreams that keep them going. Her leisurely pace invites readers to absorb the ebb and flow of the protagonist's hardships. Although his situation never changes, Curro is constantly growing. Even in the face of his greatest adversaries, Curro is able to extract beauty and meaning from life, and he leaves a lasting message of hope. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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