Brooklyn Bridge
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Brooklyn Bridge

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  474 ratings  ·  142 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...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Feiwel & Friends
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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 92 books — 576 voters
The Great Bridge by David McCulloughA View from the Bridge by Arthur MillerA View from the Bridge. by Shay DalyGreat Expectations by Grant C. RobinsonBridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
Books with Bridges on the Cover
7th out of 16 books — 2 voters


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Community Reviews

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Barbara
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
Betsy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jodotha
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...more
Lori
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...more
Tasha
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
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.
Th...more
Linda Lipko
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...more
Lisa
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.
Karen
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....more
Heather
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
Janessa
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
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
Jeanette
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...more
Patrick
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...more
Nancy
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
Vicki
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
Rick
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
Barbara
Mar 05, 2009 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Jess
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
Kathleen
Jan 29, 2013 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Kelly
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...more
Jamie
Mar 08, 2009 Jamie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jamie by: Capitol Choices
Shelves: 12-14, family, historical
Historical fiction - not my genre - how many times have I said this?

Yet, when one is good, it is very very good and that's what I got from this book. The main narrative, of Joseph, whose father invents the "teddy bear" (and I was WAAY into this story before I realized that I actually had the question with Morris Michtom at trivia just 2 weeks ago.) (And actually the fact that Hesse took real people and utterly fictionalized them was slightly annoying, one of the things that knocks this down to 4...more
Libby Ames
Joseph Michtom lives in Brooklyn with his family during the summer of 1903. His only wish is to visit the new amusement park at Coney Island, but his family is too busy. As Russian immigrants, Joseph’s family struggled with the others until his father sold the first stuffed toy bear. Now the family can’t keep up with the demand for toy bears and Joseph feels his childhood being sucked away by their good fortune.

Through the eyes of Joseph Michtom with some inserted insight from orphans living und...more
Tamsyn
Karen Hesse is a wonderful writer of historical fiction who always gets to the heart of her characters. This time we are taken to Brooklyn in 1903, where we become involved in the life of a Russian-Jewish family who have just gotten their lucky break, changing their fortune: they were the first to create a stuffed "teddy's bear", and they can't make them fast enough. Joseph, their son, tells us their story, though he resents the changes to their family and home life that the success brings -- he...more
Destinee Sutton
I love Karen Hesse's novels in verse, so I was surprised that I didn't enjoy this (though this is straight prose, not poetry). There were two separate stories going on in this book, which made it a little disjointed. Overall, I thought there was just too much going on. The main story is about a 14-year-old son of Russian-Jewish immigrants who invent the teddy bear (we're talking 1900ish Brooklyn here). The secondary plot line is a kind of ghost story about lost children living under a bridge. An...more
Elijah Clavery
The Book The Brooklyn Bridge tells the story of a boy a boy who lives a good life, his parents made the teddy bear. The time is 1903 in Brooklyn the boys name Joseph Mitchom and his life has changed ever since his parents created the teddy bear. Joseph has never been to Coney Island and he wants to go bad but his parents say they never have time. The only Joseph does is play stick ball with his friends but the only he does is work all day.
Jean
Hess quickly takes the reader into turn-of-the-century New York City and into the life of Joseph Michtom. But as we immerse ourselves in Joe's life and his woes, she introduces us to other lives - the lives of the street kids living under the bridge. As the story moves along we alternate between the joys and sadnesses in Joseph's loving, middle-class family and the glimpses of the overwhelming horror of the lives of the street kids. As the story moved along, I kept wondering what the connection...more
Smithmott
This is an touching and exciting book that covers so many topics. First of it is historical, young adult fiction. There's mystery, lost children, suspense and orphans. It is a story about the family that made the first teddy bear, but it touches on the hisotires of baseball, Coney Island, social reform, immigration and refugees. all wrapped up in the coming of age story of a boy in Brooklyn.
Lorena
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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What do you think of this book? Interesting or Boring? 1 1 Nov 01, 2012 07:35PM  
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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 http://us.macmillan.com/author/karenh...
More about Karen Hesse...
Out of the Dust Letters from Rifka The Music of Dolphins Witness A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, Fenwick Island, Delaware, 1861 (Dear America)

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