The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson was published in 1958, my birth year. So, I am surprised to learn this is a Christmas classic and loved by millions. I’ve never heard of it. More shocking to a writer diving into the middle grade children’s literature area, is that this book won the Newbery Award, an esteemed children’s literature honor.
This surprises me because the story contradicts several “rules” of kid lit that I’ve picked up over the last three years in books and workshops: the main character must be a child slightly older than the age of the reader you are writing for, the main character must solve his or her own problems in the story and the adults, if any, in the story must not make everything happen for the child. This leads me to believe that the story was written more for the adults who are reading to children.
I’m bolstered in this thought, by the recognition that Despicable Me, an animated movie with evil villains who attempt to steal the moon, has the same plot; single curmudgeon takes on three small children, learns to love and ends up with a family.
I wonder if the Family Under the Bridge would be considered for publication in today’s environment.