cover image Charlie's House

Charlie's House

Clyde Robert Bulla. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $14 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-83841-8

Home is the forceful central image in the adventures of Charlie Brig, ``born near the town of Durford, England in the year 1736.'' Fascinated when he sees a house under construction, the ambitious lad builds a model house, only to have his mother prick his balloon--``you were born poor and poor you'll stay.'' Charlie leaves home and heads to London, whence he voyages to America--and lives in a grand home as an indentured bondservant. Later he flees a cruel slave-owning master and at last plans his very own house in a community of escaped slaves. Charlie's quest enables Bulla to offer readers an accessible glimpse of life for the poor in 18th-century Anglo-American society. The mix of a spirited but vulnerable hero, rousing adventure and the book's large typeface make this a splendid choice for early or reluctant readers. Flavin's handsomely shaded black-and-white drawings contribute authentic period touches as they further this top-notch odyssey. Readers may be too absorbed to notice that the book also introduces important social studies concepts. Ages 8-11. (Mar.)