Book details

Macmillan Children's Book

Brooklyn Bridge

Author: Karen Hesse; Read by Fred Berman

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge


About This Book

From the incomparable Karen Hesse comes a powerfully evocative and accessible family story, set at the turn of the century, by turns serious, funny, and with a touch of magical realism.

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On that day in 1903, fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom's life changed irrevocably when his parents—Russian immigrants—created the first teddy bear. No longer did the Michtom's gather family and friends around the kitchen table to talk. No longer was Joseph at leisure to play stickball with the guys. No longer were Joseph and his book-loving sister free from watching their pesky two-year-old brother. Now—when it was summer vacation and more than anything Joseph wanted to experience the thrill, the grandeur, the electricity of Coney Island—Joseph worked. And complained. And fell in and out of love. And argued. And hoped that everything would go back to how it used to be. All the while no one let him forget that he was lucky.

Because—"There are other children. The unwanted, the forgotten, the lost ones. They gather under the bridge each night to sit, to talk, to sleep. They know, they know, they know that to everyone beyond the bridge they are invisible. . . ." These are the children who live under the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge.

Newbery medalist Karen Hesse masterfully entwines Joseph's coming-of-age tale (and that of his big, colorful family) with the heartbreaking stories of the children under the bridge. Riveting historical fiction that is by turns accessible and ornate, very real but with a touch of magical realism. Hesse's extraordinary new novel is an insightful reminder that a life—fragile and precious—can change in a moment.

Brooklyn Bridge is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Imprint Publisher

Macmillan Young Listeners



In The News

“[Fred Berman's] strong Brooklyn accent and use of Yiddish inflection take listeners directly to the time and place. Berman beautifully captures 14-year-old Joseph's electric excitement to participate in the life of the city around him... A great choice for family listening.” —AudioFile , Winner of an Earphones Award

“Fred Berman's narration is as authentic as the story. Listeners are transported to Brooklyn, into the homes, streets, and trolley cars, with fully voiced and accented characters brought totally alive.... The two layers of the story are vocally distinct in their telling, allowing listeners to shift seamlessly between the experiences.... A compelling listen.” —School Library Journal

“Berman narrates with abundant energy and a deep Brooklyn accent that helps engage listeners.... his ability to create and sustain the myriad of colorful characters is both impressive and entertaining.” —Booklist

“Despite the brevity of the novel, the listener becomes acquainted with the entire Michtom clan, their neighbors and the cultural climate of 1903 Brooklyn. And none of this would have been possible were it not for the marvelous reading of Fred Berman.” —

“Inspired by facts surrounding the inventors of the teddy bear, Newbery Medalist Hesse applies her gift for narrative voice to this memorable story set in 1903 Brooklyn.... Deftly paced story lines about Joe's extended family indirectly raise questions about different types of bridges: those from the old country to America, those that cross generations, those that link the unlikeliest individuals. Not until the final chapters does Hesse produce the connection between Joseph and the street children with their ghost, and then the novel explodes with dark drama before its eerie but moving resolution.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“In this tale of Dickensian contrasts in kindness and cruelty, Brooklyn comes alive with the details of time and place, but it is the shadow of pain and transcendence cast symbolically by the bridge that haunts and compels. Another work of enduring excellence from Hesse.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“The narrative includes tightly interwoven elements of multiple genres--adventure, romance, comedy, ghost story, and family drama--without ever compromising the authenticity of the plot or the characters.” —Horn Book Magazine

“This intimate novel, written in stanza form, poetically conveys the heat, dust and wind of Oklahoma. With each meticulously arranged entry Hesse paints a vivid picture of her heroine's emotions.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review for OUT OF THE DUST

“What Copeland created with music, and Hopper created with paint, Hesse deftly and unerringly creates with words: the iconography of Americana, carefully researched, beautifully written, and profoundly honest.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review for WITNESS

“Deep, literary, and soulful, Ms. Hesse once again holds us in her spell as she reconstructs the past at an intense time in United States history. . . . The tapestry of plot and subplot is woven with brilliant craftsmanship.” —Children's Literature for A LIGHT IN THE STORM: THE CIVIL WAR DIARY OF AMELIA MARTIN

“Sparkling with humor, poignancy and adventure. . . . Hesse's impeccable research buttresses the narrative with a wealth of detail. . . . an author's note and extensive glossary round out this compelling volume.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review for STOWAWAY

About the Creators

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge


Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge