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UNCLE JAMES by Marc Harshman


by Marc Harshman & illustrated by Michael Dooling

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-65110-1
Publisher: Dutton

A bleak realistic story about a family eking out a meager living after Father dies. Jimmy, the narrator, has to drop out of school to help on the farm; but during the first hungry winter, mother and children are buoyed by the hope offered in Uncle James's letters—he's coming to help; he's making money logging, and he'll send some soon. The letters, full of Uncle James's exploits and promises, continue through a hard summer before James himself turns up, drunk and penniless. Jimmy's angry, but Mom is philosophical (``His words lied, but his heart didn't. He wanted the best for us...''). She also, in a simplistic conclusion, reforms her brother with long night talks, argument, and love. Still, a perceptive, well-told story of hard times early in the century, illustrated with sober insight in Dooling's carefully crafted paintings, in somber grays and browns. (Picture book. 6-10)