cover image Brooklyn, Bugsy, and Me

Brooklyn, Bugsy, and Me

Lynea Bowdish. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30993-0

Nine-year-old Sam narrates Bowdish's (Living with My Stepfather Is Like Living with a Moose) slice-of-life novel set in Brooklyn in 1953. ""Don't step on your father,"" warns Sam's mother in the book's opening line. Right away readers know that she does things a bit differently, including talking to his father's ashes (kept in an urn; he died in WWII) as if she expected an answer. As the novel begins, Sam and his mother are en route from West Virginia to Gramps's Brooklyn home because she has lost her job. Once there, Sam gradually discovers that his seemingly aloof grandfather is not what he appears to be; he is beloved by the neighborhood. Bowdish peppers the narrative with descriptions of August days in the city when kids could still play stickball in the streets, pause for the occasional passing DeSoto and break for an egg cream. The author subtly weaves in the boy's growing insight into Gramps via such supporting characters as Tony, the chatty neighbor boy, and a smiling soda jerk; even the playground bully adores ""Bugsy,"" as they call him. This quiet tale of adapting to a new home will likely offer comfort to readers faced with unexpected change. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 7-11. (Mar.)