Dave at Night

by Gail Carson Levine

Book, 2006



Call number




HarperCollins (2006), Edition: Reprint, 288 pages


When orphaned Dave is sent to the Hebrew Home for Boys where he is treated cruelly, he sneaks out at night and is welcomed into the music- and culture-filled world of the Harlem Renaissance.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bell7
When Dave's father dies, his stepmother Ida ties to give Dave and his brother, Gideon, to relatives at the funeral. Gideon goes to Chicago with an uncle, but since no one is willing to take Dave, Ida brings him to the Hebrew Home for Boys. Dave's adventures at the HHB (and other creative,
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not-so-flattering terms that HHB would also stand for) include making friends with the other elevens, dealing with bullies, and night-time escapades to salon parties during the Harlem Renaissance.

This rich historical fiction was an absolute joy to listen to. Jason Harris brings a variety of characters to life, including our narrator, Dave, a young black girl, and an older man whose speech is peppered with Yiddish phrases. The historical aspect is detailed without feeling forced, and includes descriptions of music and art of the time period. I appreciated the afterword in which Gail Carson Levine explains what was true, based on the truth, or made up. Equally recommended to children and adults, and believe me, I will be!
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LibraryThing member Priincess7B
When I first got the book I thought to myself why am I going to read this it’s going to be so boring, but I was like oh well so I started to read it and I was in shock with how good it was, so I kept reading and it just kept getting better and better each time and next thing I know is that I
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can’t put the book down, until my mom would come and take it out of my hands and tell me to go sleep . Sometimes I wouldn’t even do my homework I would be reading the book. I was in so much shock when I first read it, but the book was really sad, like in the beginning it’s so sad I wanted to cry I was so sad when I was reading the beginning.
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LibraryThing member raizel
Jews do not come out looking well in this book. The hero, Dave, is abandoned by his family and placed in the Hebrew Home for Boys, run by a sadistic man who steals children's valuable keepsakes. Dave manages to escape at night and stumbles upon the Harlem Renaissance; he becomes friends with a
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wealthy black girl and an older Jewish man, a self-described gonif who tells phony fortunes.

Eventually Dave realizes that his family did the best they could for him. His brother, taken in by an uncle, is not tough enough to cope with the HHB; his aunts, who are boarders in a family's small apartment, really have no room for him, but do visit him; his step-mother truly cannot afford to keep him. Dave realizes that the other elevenses at the Home are wonderful friends. The art teacher goes out of his way to encourage Dave's talent.

The happy resolution requires a deus ex machina. This is always a bad sign, usually meaning that in reality there is no good resolution.

Life in the orphanage is based on the experiences of the author's father, who lived in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum; Art Buchwald also lived there. As the author says in an Afterword, the conditions at the Asylum were not as bad as those she makes up. 2003 nominee for Nutmeg Children's Book Award.
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LibraryThing member TheMightyQuinn
Dave is always up to mischief and when his father dies his struggling relatives choose to take in his quiet older brother and send Dave to the Hebrew Home for Boys where he makes some surprising friendships and sneaks out to enjoy the high society of Harlem. This is the best Levine since Ella
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Enchanted, loosely based on the author's father's childhood. There are many rather unbelievable events, such as an orphan making a connection with an heiress, but if the reader was going to believe these events, they happen in exactly the way they would. Would recommend to middle grade readers and readers fond of orphan tales.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Dave is put in a home for Jewish orphans. At the school there are lots of bullies and Dave makes strong bonds with the other boys his age. My favorite parts of the book are where he sneaks out at night and attends salons and parties that are part of the Harlem Renaissance.
LibraryThing member The_Hibernator
When Dave’s father dies, Dave is separated from his brother and sent to an orphanage. Dave finds a way to sneak over the wall of the orphanage and wanders the streets at night, where he meets many interesting characters (both high society and from his own social class). In his adventures at the
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orphanage and the streets, Dave learns a little bit about himself and what he needs in life, he grows to accept his problems and embrace his gifts. This is a sweet little book.
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LibraryThing member KimReadingLog
Dave Karos’ life is turned upside down in one fell swoop; his father died in a carpentry accident, and at the funeral, his stepmother announces she can’t afford to keep Dave and his brother, Gideon, and asks who will take them. Dave’s uncle Jack agrees to take Gideon, but nobody wants Dave,
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so he is sent to live at the Hebrew Home for Boys, an all-boy orphan asylum. Dave wastes no time in sneaking out. He makes some good and trustworthy friends while visiting salon parties and listening to Jazz music. The orphan director is cruel and abusive (as Dave quickly finds out after he is caught for sneaking out) and to make matters worse, he has stolen Dave’s prized possession, a carving of Noah’s Ark that his father made. Dave decides that he will do whatever it takes to get his carving back, and then he will run away. Over time, however, despite some bad things about the orphanage (like bullies eating their food and it’s always freezing cold), Dave also realizes there are good things, like all of his new “buddies” – the other 11 year olds – who will look out for him through thick and thin, and the art lessons he enjoys so much.
Based on Gail Carson Levine’s own father’s experience in a similar orphanage.

*Listened to audiobook - good!
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
When Dave Caros’ father dies, his stepmother ships Dave off to the Hebrew Home for Boys. Mr. Doom is the abusive headmaster, Moe steals food off Dave’s plate, the Home is always cold, and most disheartening, Mr. Doom has taken away Dave’s treasured possession, a wood carving of the Noah’s
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Ark that his father made. As Dave plots to take back his carving and escape, he meets the other age eleven boys in the home and gets to know them as buddies. Mr. Hillinger the art teacher recognizes Dave’s art talents. And then Dave sneaks out one night he meets Solly, a Jewish man who tells fortunes at rent parties in Harlem. Through Solly, Dave meets Irma Lee and they become friends. Through all these people, he discovers true friendship and loyalty.
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LibraryThing member mutantpudding
I read this book several times when I was a kid and am happy to report that it still stands up reading it as an adult. Great historical fiction with a diverse cast of characters and good handling of difficult topics.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

288 p.; 7.62 inches


0064407470 / 9780064407472
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