The Family Under the Bridge

by Natalie Savage Carlson

Paperback, 1990



Local notes

PB Car




Scholastic Inc. (1990), Edition: Reprint, 97 pages


An old tramp, adopted by three fatherless children when their mother hides them under a bridge on the Seine, finds a home for mother and children and a job for himself.


Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1960)
Newbery Medal (Honor Book — 1959)


Original publication date


Physical description

97 p.; 7.2 inches

Media reviews

Oh, how I loved this book! These are my favorite Garth Williams illustrations, and that is saying a lot. The story is simply wonderful...and it paints a magical picture of Paris--not the shiny images that you see in tourist photos, but a rich atmosphere with real characters. This is a oldie but
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such a goodie!
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
Armand is a homeless man, quite content with his lot in life, he roams the streets of Paris, pushing around an old baby buggy containing his early possessions. He sleeps under a bridge and is quite accustomed to the cold.

He discovers a homeless family consisting of a mother, three children and
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their dog who are camped in his space under the bridge. While initially Armand is reluctant to help, the children warm their way into his heart and he travels with them as together they find a happy ending.

While the subject matter is difficult, the story is told in a light, breezy way. Overall, the book is not as in depth as many other YA books I've read this year.
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LibraryThing member SuperHelen
I love this book I read it in third grade and I enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member TonyaJordan
This is a story of a homeless man named Armand who was perfectly happy being homeless. Armand was not a big fan of children until he discovered three of them living under his bridge with their mother and their dog. He then grew rather fond of the children, and began to love them just as if they
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were his own family.

I really liked this book because it paints a vivid picture of what it is like to be homeless. I think is is very important for children to understand how very fortunate they are to have a roof over their heads, and not just take it for granted. I also loved how Armand loved children by the end of the story. This shows how children can touch the heart in ways he never thought.

In the classroom I would have the children bring blankets and pillows from home to use while we read the story. We might also go outside to read so that the children get a taste of what it is like to have to sleep outside.
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LibraryThing member marisa_9087
This story is abouto a homeless man named Armand who was perfectly happy being homeles,s Armand was not a big fan of children though until one day he discovered three of them living under his bridge with their mother and their dog. He then grew a herat for the children and began to love them just
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as if they were his own family. This all began to change his thoughts and his lifestyle.

I really liked this book, kinda sad but has a good message. It was very good at allowing you to actually see and visualize what was going on through the text. I think that this is a great book to read to the children to show them how fortunate that they really are and represent what it cold be like. It also shows the children that you can change and how they do make a diffrence in peoples lives.

In the classroom we would first discuss the book and homeless people so they arent confused or mislead by anything then next we would have a fun craft tim relating to the story or prehaps write in our journals.
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LibraryThing member SadieReads
"The Family Under the Bridge" is about a homeless man living under a bridge who adopts and is adopted by a mother and her three children who find themselves living under the same bridge in Paris. Although the old man, Armand, is homeless by choice and does not want to feel responsible for a family,
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he cannot help falling in love with the three Calcet children. The three children realize from the beginning that Armand needs them just as much as they need him, however it takes longer to convince Armand and Madame Calcet. Yet, this unlikely family finds its way out from under the bridges of Paris and into a real home together.
I enjoyed this story. It showed how families come to be in many different ways. What makes a family is love, devotion, and the taking care of one another. Although a bit eccentric, I believe that the characters are easy to identify with. Armand is a granfatherly type man whose bark is worse than his bite. Mrs. Calcet is the hard-working mother, striving to keep her family together. Suzy is the warm and loving older sister who is the first to see that a new family is coming together. Paul is the headstrong boy trying to become the man of the family. And Evelyne is the charming baby sister. I believe that children will enjoy the characters and appreciate the story. Appropriate for grades 3 and up.
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LibraryThing member ChelseaRenee
Summary: This book is about a homeless who really doesn't mind being homeless or alone he prefers it that way but all that changes when he finds a family living under a bridge he begins to start caring for them and eventually sees them as his own family.

Personal Reaction: I thought that this was a
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sweet book that showed how kind people can be and the value of family and how everyone needs family

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. You could have children bring in can food from home to donate to local homeless shelters
2. You could have the children say what family means to them and draw a picture of all the people they consider family whether they're related to them or not
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LibraryThing member raizel
Armand is an elderly gentleman who chooses to live under a bridge with his dog and baby carriage and not work. Until a mother and her children show up and he slowly becomes more involved with helping them. He finds a temporary home for them with his gypsy friends, but when a policeman comes by
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looking for one of them, they leave and the mother and children are once again homeless. SPOILER: The policeman actually wants to return a lost wallet. Ultimately Armand goes in search of a job and finds a place for them all to live. Perhaps a bit of a fairy-tale ending for a story that deals with some serious issues: homelessness, poverty, outcasts, illiteracy. Speaking of the last point, the gypsy children cannot read or write French, but they have symbols that tell them if places are welcoming or not.
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LibraryThing member Maryk205
Sweet, touching, and hopeful, "The Family under the Bridge" is a great book to read around those hectic December holidays if you want a good story that preaches peace and joy and the importance of family, regardless of how 'family' is defined.

Centered around Armand, a career hobo, the story
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follows how an unexpected meeting with a recently impoverished family challenges and changes the world views of both Armand and the family. Though some aspects of the book are outdated and would likely be viewed as either politically incorrect or severe wishful thinking, I admire that the author attempted to tell a story centered around groups of people largely considered undesirables by society and treating them in a humane light. I honestly can't think of any other children's book that teaches solid moral lessons and wherein the protagonist is a hobo.
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LibraryThing member cortneynmcclure
Book Summary:
The Family Under the Bridge is a Newbery Medal winner about a homeless Parisian man named Armand and a family of children living under a bridge while their mother is at work. Armand enjoys his solitary life of little responsibility aimless wanderings, however, when he returns to the
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bridge he normally sleeps under to discover three hungry and cold children huddled together his life begins to change. Armand stays with the children during the day while their mother works; he introduces them to gypsies who provide food and shelter for the family while Armand gradually and reluctantly welcomes the children into his heart and decides that he will help provide for the family by getting a job and ultimately finding them a real home.

Personal Reaction:
I think this is a great book. It introduces children to what is probably an unfamiliar concept, homelessness. It also teaches readers that every person has value no matter their situation and that love and acceptance can lead to great things.

Classroom Extensions:
1.Have children discuss what homelessness is and other factors of the issue such as causes of homelessness. Next have students compare their everyday lives to that of homeless people and discuss what home means to them.
2.Provide an opportunity for children to participate in a classroom food drive. Collect canned foods from students and donate what is collected to a local homeless shelter or food pantry.
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LibraryThing member TARA5X
The Family Under the Bridge is a heart-warming story about a man named Armand and children that lived under the bridge. Armand was an old man that loved being alone but when he comes in contact with some children under a bridge he realizes that he has a family now. Armand and the children travel
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around the world in a great adventure together.

This is a great addition to any library for children. The story teaches children about love, kindness and togetherness. This story shows the love from someone that really thought he loved being by himself.

An extension idea would be to chart ideas that you could show love and kindness to someone.
Another extension idea would be to write a short story about a time that you have showed love and kindness to someone.
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LibraryThing member cynthiadr
This book is about a homeless man named Armand who lives on the streets of Paris, he soon befriends some children and their mother when he discovers them living in his spot under the bridge. Armand is very happy being a hobo, but starts to change his way of thinking after the children have warmed
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his heart. He takes the children on scenic adventures and soon wins over the respect of the children’s mother.

This book was so wonderful, I loved every detail and aspect from beginning to end, the story was just absolutely a great read, one that was not easy to put down until finished. It was so heartwarming and touching; the author did such a fantastic job of relating the events to actual real-life events, and did it in a way that was so honest and eye opening. The author wrote with such emotion and great detail that it was almost as if she had been in the shoes of a homeless person before, the descriptions and reactions that the characters had were so life-like. The illustrations were nice, there weren’t too many, but sufficient for the story.

For my class project, I would have an open discussion about the story, what the students have learned from the story and why they think the subject of homelessness is important for us to be aware of. I would definitely have to bring in some sheets and blankets for the students to lie on while I was reading the story, to relate to how the characters laid on their covers. Another fun activity would be for me to fix soup for snack time, to relate to Armand and the children and their mother when they eat soup at the gypsy camp. I would also like to have the students to write in their journals about how they would help a homeless person, for example, donate clothes, volunteer at a homeless shelter, maybe passing out silverware at the kitchen, etc., just to get an idea of what personal impact the reading has made on each student.
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LibraryThing member jn925584
Summary: The Family Under the Bridge is an endearing story of a hobo and his experiences with a homeless woman and her three children. It allows readers to see life through the eyes of a homeless person, and gives insight into the struggles, emotions, and relationships formed through their
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"community". Specifically, the book addresses the friendships that form between the characters of this story and their willingness to see the best in one another and their desire to ensure their well-being.

Reflection: I loved this book! It was a great example of the kindness and generosity of people, regardless of their station in life. Armand, a hardened soul who had been alone for many years, finds love in the most unlikely place. The Calcet children capture his heart and remind him that life is much more satisfying when you have someone in your life. In turn, Armand teaches Madame Calcet the importance of not judging others on your perceptions without first taking the time to know them on a personal level.

Extension Ideas:
1. Ask the children to imagine what life would be like if they were homeless. Discuss having gratitude for the things they have.
2. Talk about judging others on their appearance. Use the example of the gypsies who were willing to share their home and food with the family or Armand's willingness to help the family. How does Madam Calcet's perception change due to their kindness?
3. Teach a lesson about Paris. Explore some of the locations mentioned in the book. Find them on a map or do a google search to learn more about them.
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LibraryThing member SuperHelen
I love this book I read it in third grade and I enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member marmig2
In my opinion, this is a great book! This book chronicles the experiences of a homeless man named Armand who crosses paths with 3 young children whom which capture his heart. This book pushes the reader to think about tough issues because it provides insight into the reality of homelessness and
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some of the struggles that these individuals might face. This main message of “The Family under the Bridge” is to be kind and care for those who are in need and to try not to judge people. This message is portrayed all throughout the book through Armand’s actions and Madame Calcet’s preconceived notions of both Armand and the gypsy family. I liked the character-development in this book because the characters were very believable. The fact that the mother was too proud to accept help at the beginning of the story seemed like a scenario that would happen in real life. The plot was very well-timed and caused the reader to understand the long struggle that some people face to be able to find housing. Finally, the ending of the novel was very satisfying. Although the situation wasn’t perfect, it would work for the family and for Armand.
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LibraryThing member Bretny
Summary: This is a book about a man who lives under a bridge in Paris. He meets a woman and her three kids, and he ends up taking care of the kids while the mom is at work. He thought he liked being alone until he met and fell in love with the three kids. He introduces the kids to the gypsies who
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provide food and other essentials for living. By the end of the book he ends up finding his own job and a house for all five of them.

Personal Reaction: I think this is a great book. It really hits your emotional side while reading because it is a real situation that many people face. Not all homeless people get the chance to find a job and a home, or even other people that they can relate to and love.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1) We could use this to talk about what homelessness is. We could try to gather up food to donate to a local shelter.
2) We could use this to learn about the value of money and how to save money
3) The kids could write letter to their grown ups to thank them for having a good home
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LibraryThing member tesia.rose3
This book is about a man in Paris that did not like kids. He called them "Starlings" and said they steal your heart. He went out one day and came back to find children in his spot under the bridge. There where 3 red-haired kids each a different age. It was winter so they where cold and hiding under
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a canvas with rugged coats. He took the children to see father Christmas they asked for a house but they where sad to find they did not get a house. Their mom works all day. While the kids mom was at work they went to the gypsies area with the old tramp. The gypsies taught them how to fix things with copper, be like a gypsy and dance. Soon the gypsies had to go. the children where upset. later their dog and the old tramp took a bath.they soon found out that the dog was white the tramp got them a house along with a job for himself.
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LibraryThing member flamingrosedrakon
This is definitely one of those interesting books that you may trip upon and be trapped into reading. And it will touch your heart if not for the simplicity of the book's message about how family whether blood or not can change a person, to hope for a better turn or due to its Christmas theme.

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touched me with this book is the realism of the background whether it was the situation of being homeless, of a family trying to survive hard times or just the opposite views of glorious Paris. You were definitely not at home anymore when the pages of this book were opened up to you.

The relationships between the characters was a bit on the strange side and not very realistically given, especially as a modern comparison to our times. And yet it was since of these weird interactions that you were able to figure out a hazy timeline for the book.

Cute story but not one that I am going to be continually reading around Christmas with my other Christmas books.
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
An old hobo begrudgingly befriends a homeless family under a bridge in Paris.
A sweet story, I suppose, but not earth-shattering in any way.
LibraryThing member chrisblocker
Sort of sweet. Sort of cloying. I appreciated that the book didn't take a turn toward the end that might have ruined it: a little red herring with your croissant. Far, far too many oh la las.
LibraryThing member SarahGraceGrzy
Sweet story! The writing was lacking somewhat, but can we all just agree that the illustrations are adorable?!?!
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Armand is an old hobo in Paris, who loves the lazy life of the bum, and avoiding the entanglements of family - especially children. But when he encounters the newly homeless Calcet family - a mother with three young children - the kids quickly steal his heart. The mother is distrustful of the grimy
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beggar at first, but soon enough realizes that he has a good heart and can be trusted. This all happens at Christmastime, and of course what the children want for Christmas is a home; something neither Armand, nor his friend Father Christmas (who works in a department store as such), can give the children. But as this is a Christmas story, we know that somehow, the children will get their home.
A short, endearing little story.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Armand was happy with his life as a hobo on the streets of Paris, with no job, no responsibilities, and no family. Then one winter day he discovered the three young Calcet children—Suzy, Paul and Evelyne—and their dog Jo-Jo under the bridge where he liked to shelter during the cold season.
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Evicted from their home, the children were living with their mother on the streets, afraid to seek shelter lest they be separated from one another by the authorities. Slowly, Armand began to take these "starlings" under his wing, helping them and their mother evade some well-meaning busybodies, and finding them shelter with his gypsy friends. But the old man knew in his heart that this family needed a home, and that somehow, he must help them to find it...

Published in 1958, The Family Under the Bridge was one of four Newbery Honor Books in 1959—the others were Along Came a Dog by Meindert DeJong, Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay, and The Perilous Road by William O. Steele—and is a brief, beginning chapter-book for the younger intermediate set. Given its reputation, and the fact that so many of my friends seem to have loved it, I fully expected to be charmed by it myself, especially as the theme of a homeless family finally finding a home is one I always find heartwarming, a Christmas setting has great appeal for me, and the artwork of illustrator Garth Williams is a nostalgic favorite. For the most part, I was not disappointed, entering into the story with sympathy for both Armand and the Calcet children, rooting for their eventual discovery that they are in fact one big family, and happily triumphant at the conclusion, in which they find their home (and Armand finds his purpose). I don't know that I was as emotionally involved in the story, as I expected to be, given all of the above, but I certainly found it very engaging, and can see why it is a childhood favorite for so many. Recommended to young readers who are just getting into longer novels, and who enjoy heartwarming family stories set at the holidays.
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