Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Brooklyn Bridge” as Want to Read:
Brooklyn Bridge
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Brooklyn Bridge

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  553 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
Karen Hesse has achieved many honors for her more than twenty books over the course of her award-winning career: the Newbery Medal, the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the MacArthur Fellowship "Genius" Award, and the Christopher Medal. Her novels burn with intensity, and keenly felt, deeply researched, and are memorable for their imagination and intelligence.

So it i
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Feiwel & Friends
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Brooklyn Bridge, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Brooklyn Bridge

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanSavvy by Ingrid LawThe Underneath by Kathi AppeltThe Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
2009 Newbery Contenders
17th out of 68 books — 596 voters
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney TaylorSummer of My German Soldier by Bette GreeneAll-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney TaylorAll-of-a-Kind Family Downtown by Sydney TaylorDeadly by Julie Chibbaro
Jewish Americans in Children's Literature
43rd out of 110 books — 6 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 986)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 14, 2014 Barbara rated it really liked it
I always enjoy historical fiction by Karen Hesse. This story is actually based on the real, Russian immigrant family, that invented the "Teddy Bear." It is set in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn New York. New York was a thriving, crowded city filled with recent immigrants. Joseph Mitchtom is 14 in the summer of 1903. His family ownes and operates a candy shop, until a story in the news paper about Teddy Roosevelt refusing to kill an injured and restrained bear on a hunting trip, inspires his parent ...more
May 27, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was not an easy book. I'm not talking reading level, but in terms of impact. It was in turns emotionally jarring, spooky, and I wouldn't actually read this to a kid because there were some serious, even scary, situations detailed (made harder to read because they were happening to kids). There were also lighter moments, but they didn't quite balance out the difficult ones.
That said, this is one of those books you read and you don't soon forget, for all of those reasons. It was in turn a com
Jan 11, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Wow - I was blown away by this book, perhaps moreso because I didn't expect to be. I am really impressed by Brooklyn Bridge.

The setting of turn-of-the-century Brooklyn is vividly brought to life in the reader's imagination through 14-year old Joseph's first-person narration, excerpts describing Coney Island from actual newspapers from that time, and a parallel story of street children living under the Brooklyn Bridge that contrasts with Joseph's comfortable life with a large, loving family. The
Sep 05, 2008 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
Joseph feels trapped in his Brooklyn apartment surrounded by the Teddy Bears that his family invented a few months ago. The bears have taken over their lives, their space and their toy store. Now Joseph spends his days stuffing bears, packaging them, and being responsible for his younger brother and sister. And all he longs to do is go to Coney Island, the symbol of all that is fun and all that is not his current life. But life isn't that simple, as he quickly finds out as he faces falling in lo ...more
The Library Lady
Jan 03, 2009 The Library Lady rated it did not like it
Okay, here I go again swimming against the chorus of critics, many of whom I think are biased once an author has won an award or two (or three).

First of all, there is too much here I've read before. There's the gruff relative with a secret heart of gold doing good works--that's Uncle Chris in Kathryn Forbes' "Mama's Bank Account". There's characters and plotlines from"All of A Kind Family and even "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn"

Then there's the fact that this book has multiple personality disorder.
Ms. A.
Jun 12, 2015 Ms. A. rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this read. It wasn't a bad read, in fact besides being a bit wordy in spots it was an easy read. It was interesting and it does seem Morris Michtom is a real person, although Joseph does not appear to have been real. I agree with all the reviews that suggest the alternating stories made the text slightly confusing and the story of the people under the bridge, even when resolved, added very little to the text. The two stars is not reflective of the fact that I think fo ...more
Karen GoatKeeper
Dec 02, 2015 Karen GoatKeeper rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Theodore Roosevelt spared a bear cub. This family turned it into a business making Teddy's bears. And life became difficult for the teenage son.
So many families pay help but not their own children doing the same work. They are family and that is what the family does. But a teenage boy seeing friends get paid resents being broke.
Coney Island is THE place to go over the summer. All the family does is make bears. What happened to real family life? wonders their son.
The death of the family matriarch
Linda Lipko
Jun 18, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it liked it
A winner of the 2009 Sydney Taylor book award, this historical fiction YA book is a compelling read. Using as a springboard the true story of the Russian immigrant Mitchon family who made and manufactured the first US Teddy bears, the author weaves a dramatic tale of life in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the century.

There are strong characters and a wonderful portrayal of Jewish life and hope in the new world. Hesse compares and contrasts the life of strugglng and accomplishing the American
Susan Kempel
Sep 07, 2015 Susan Kempel rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this story. In fact, I couldn't put it down. I felt like I was inside the Michtom family experiencing the challenges and successes of an immigrant family. I read the stories of the kids under the bridge and wept for their loss of family. I understood Joseph's feelings of maturing; a little scary and a little exciting.
My great-grandparents were immigrants and I feel closer to them and the struggles they endured to make a good life in America. Without their dedication to buildin
Nolan Hokanson
Nov 22, 2014 Nolan Hokanson rated it really liked it
For this book report I read Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse. This book is a historical novel which is grouped with drama. Joseph Michtom feels as if he's more lucky than most kids in his neighborhood, his family owns a candy store which soons changes, because of this reason there family is starting to get more money. Joeseph's aunts are trying to move but is not working out well. For 10 years his aunt has been living by herself because of a horrible accident and while she was at Coney Island she ...more
Nov 16, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book based on a true story but the secondary story line seemed so odd. Even though the author tied the two together, the book felt disjointed. The secondary story line was distracting and didn't add anything to the main story.
Narrated by Fred Berman. A delightful story about the day-to-day life of a Jewish Russian immigrant family living in Brooklyn. Joseph, the older son, knows his family is extremely lucky to have succeeded in the teddy bear business but with so much work put into it, all he dreams of is taking a break and enjoying a day at Coney Island. Until then, the family experiences the ups and downs of life: sister Emily gets to establish a home lending library; the baby develops pneumonia; a matriarch aunt ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Alisha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse is an OKAY book. The author does a really good job showing the family dynamic, and how family members adjust to change in different ways. I also enjoyed the spooky short stories about the children under the bridge. They added some mystery and excitement to the plot. The plot of the story to me was kind of boring, I kind of felt like the main story had no direction. My favorite part of the book was definitely the ending, the author does a really good job tying the t ...more
Jan 21, 2016 705Maya rated it liked it
Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse was a depressing story about a boy whose family owns a candy shop until they decide to start selling teddy bears. The thing that makes the plot depressing is that in between chapters there are stories about homeless children who are suffering. I first wanted to read this book to learn about Brooklyn in the early 1900's and read about this interesting family who was one of the first to start selling teddy bears. Instead I was left in tears due to the depressing stor ...more
Mar 02, 2015 Sydney rated it liked it
Brooklyn Bridge wasn't the best book I have ever read,but it wasn't terrible. The author creates well developed characters with good perspects which are interesting to read about. The story line is lacking with plot because not very much happens, and there isn't really a specific climax. There is a good ending that ties the story together and wraps up the characters in a nice way. Over all, Brooklyn Bridge has some good elements and can teach people about history, even if I didn't particularly e ...more
Aug 31, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing
My Review of BROOKLYN BRIDGE by Karen Hesse

Well worth the five year wait, award winning author Karen Hesse’s new book, Brooklyn Bridge, is a memorable mix of historical fiction with a trace of enchanting fantasy. Hesse introduces this immigrant tale with a quote by Isaac Newton:” We build too many walls and not enough bridges”. This quote could be considered “a spoiler” if one could interpret its relevance prior to reading the story. However, readers must finish the book in order to see what Ms.
I am going to hold a mock Newbery Award for a group of 5th and 6th graders at school, and this is one of the books I am pre-reading to decide if I will include it in the reading selections. I didn't really like it at first because I had just read Trouble by Gary Schmidt, and he is such a great writer that the language in this book paled in comparison. This historical fiction story is about a boy named Joseph, whose parents immigrated from Russia to New York. His parents invented the "Teddy" bear ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Janessa rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Initially I was put off by the character of Joseph Michtom: a priveleged boy whining about his good fortune. But Hesse positioned Joseph in such a unique and compelling historical setting -- Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century, where immigrants struggle for their piece of the American Dream, baseball is becoming the national pastime, and Coney Island is the great equalizer with its entertainments that beckon all who have the dime to get through the gate. So at first, I read in spite of Jose ...more
Cindy Hudson
Jan 07, 2010 Cindy Hudson rated it it was amazing
Fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom knows he’s one of the lucky ones in New York during the early 1900s. He’s the son of a successful Russian immigrant. He’s got a warm place to live, enough food so he doesn’t go hungry, and family to love him. Although sometimes he doesn’t feel so lucky, because his parents no longer spend much time with him now that they are consumed with their new venture—sewing and selling as many of the new “Teddy bears” they created as they can. Joseph’s parents came up with ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Jeanette rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, middle-grade
I've been sitting on this book for awhile for many reasons, one of them being that I could not figure out what I wanted to say about it.
Joseph Mitchom is a 14 year old living in Brooklyn in 1903. The son of Russian immigrants his life changes, for what he considers the worse, when his parents invent the teddy bear, close their popular candy shop and turn their apartment into a bear making factory. All Joseph really wants is to go to Coney Island but his parent's are too busy making bears to take
Jan 04, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it
This is good and touching, but different than I expected. I thought it was going to be about the apparently epic task of constructing the bridge, as in the McCullough history, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, that I want to read.

Instead, it is about her fictional version of what life was like for the Russian immigrant family that invented the Teddy Bear, as narrated by a 15-yr-old son. This is all very interesting with funny and sad things about their imme
Based lightly on the story of the family that made the first teddy bears, this is the story of a Jewish immigrant family in New York, told from the point of view of 14 year old Joseph. He resents his family's success because it makes them seem better in the eyes of the neighborhood and his friends defer to him in a way that makes him uncomfortable. His family is also so busy that they have no time to spend with him and his two younger siblings, or to take them to Coney Island, which is his big d ...more
May 04, 2009 Vicki rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! This is a wholesome book that can be read by any age 4th grade up. It is about the Michtom family who were the ones that created the teddy bear inspired by Teddy Roosevelt's refusal to shoot a bear cub. It qualifies as historical fiction, but don't tell the kids. They think they hate historical fiction. It also has "interior chapters." (I borrow that term from the "Grapes of Wrath".) The interior chapters are about the children that live under the Brooklyn Bridge and they are ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Rick rated it liked it
Shelves: children-and-ya
Hesse’s novel is centered on a real life Brooklyn family, the Michtoms, an immigrant family from Russia, that became famous for becoming the American inventors of the Teddy Bear. The novel, set in 1903, focuses on young Joseph Michtom, who longs to go to Coney Island but is trapped by the endless work that his parents do first at their candy store and then the increasingly demanding success of their stuffed bear business. There is never time for his family to take him to Coney Island. Everyone s ...more
Mar 05, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gr 6-9
In this historical fiction about New York immigrant neighborhoods, a Russian Jewish family invents a stuffed ‘Teddy’ bear after seeing the story of Teddy Roosevelt sparing a bear cub on a hunting trip. Life changes for 14 yr old Joseph Michtom as the Teddy bear changes their fortunes. The success of the bear business upsets Joseph's life: the whole family is now working so hard that there is no time for family life, and their success sets them apart from other struggling immigrants. All he want ...more
The story had an episodic feel to it that reminded me of Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago - historical fiction with vivid characters, a real sense of time and place, humor - although this didn't have the same sense of the absurd. Mixed in with the story of a family of immigrants was the story of children living under the bridge, all with tragic pasts, and told in a more mysterious tone than the rest of the more down-to-earth story. I almost liked the way the two story lines came together a ...more
Jan 29, 2013 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kids who like historical fiction, teachers
Another skillfully crafted novel by Karen Hesse. This woman has a true gift for taking historical facts and plumping them into characters and lives for us to enjoy, and I am so glad I found this on the shelf. One of the classes with whom I work is in the middle of their big immigration study, so I'm paying particular attention to stories about immigrant families in New York. Also, since I'm a resident of Brooklyn and have worked with traditional Jewish families, this book really piqued my intere ...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I did not know that this would have been so good. I did not expect that I would have loved it so much and that I could not stop reading it and pretty much finishing it in one "fell swoop." It seems Dickensian, but that might not be a fair comparison because it is actually quite sparing and except for the intentional repetitive phrasing in those dream-like segments about the children "under the bridge" (and so effective, those poetic passages.. *sigh*), there is not that much repeated sentiment. ...more
Mar 20, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile
Juxtaposition of stories of the lives of Russian immigrants, homeless kids under Bridge, NY Times quotes about Coney Island. Brooklyn, c. 1903.

Brooklyn Bridge: a novel
Karen Hesse

Teddy bears are taking over Joseph [rhymes with “victim”:] Michtum’s life. Teddy bears are filling 14-year old Joseph’s Brooklyn home and family candy store. It’s the turn of the twentieth century (1903), Teddy Roosevelt is president, and Joseph’s Russian immigrant parents have come up with the idea of producing teddy be
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 32 33 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What do you think of this book? Interesting or Boring? 1 1 Nov 01, 2012 07:35PM  
  • Keeping Score
  • The Porcupine Year
  • Six Innings
  • Little Audrey
  • A Thousand Never Evers
  • When the Whistle Blows
  • Itch
  • The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • Bird in a Box
  • Diamond Willow
  • The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
  • Cicada Summer
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper (Simon Bloom, #1)
  • Beneath My Mother's Feet
  • The Madman of Piney Woods
  • Bone by Bone by Bone
  • How It Happened in Peach Hill
Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

For more information, please see
More about Karen Hesse...

Share This Book