Synopses & Reviews
50th Anniversary Edition
Do you know the history of the pushcart war? The REAL history? It’s a story of how regular people banded together and, armed with little more than their brains and good aim defeated a mighty foe.
Not long ago the streets of New York City were smelly, smoggy, sooty, and loud. There were so many trucks making deliveries that it might take an hour for a car to travel a few blocks. People blamed the truck owners and the truck owners blamed the little wooden pushcarts that traveled the city selling everything from flowers to hot dogs. Behind closed doors the truck owners declared war on the pushcart peddlers. Carts were smashed from Chinatown to Chelsea. The peddlers didn’t have money or the mayor on their side, but that didn’t stop them from fighting back. They used pea shooters to blow tacks into the tires of trucks, they outwitted the police, and they marched right up to the grilles of those giant trucks and dared them to drive down their streets. Today, thanks to the ingenuity of the pushcart peddlers, the streets belong to the people—and to the pushcarts.
The Pushcart War was first published fifty years ago. It has inspired generations of children and been adapted for television, radio, and the stage around the world. It was included on School Library Journal’s list of “One Hundred Books That Shaped the Twentieth Century,” and its assertion that a committed group of men and women can prevail against a powerful force is as relevant in the twenty-first century as it was in 1964.
The pushcarts have declared war! New York City’s streets are clogged with huge, rude trucks that park where they want, hold up traffic, and bulldoze into anything that is in their way, and the pushcart peddlers are determined to get rid of them. But the trucks are just as determined to get rid of the pushcarts, and the result is chaos.
The pushcarts have come up with a brilliant strategy that will surely let the hot air out of their enemies. The secret weapon: a peashooter armed with a pin. The target: the vulnerable truck tires. Once the source of the flat tires is discovered, the children of the city joyfully join in with their own pin peashooters. The pushcarts have won one battle, but can they win the war against a corrupt mayor who taxes the pins and prohibits the sale of dried peas?
About the Author
(1923–2012) was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up on a dairy and apple farm near Lake Ontario. She received a master’s degree in English literature from Wellesley in 1945 and later studied folklore in India on a Fulbright fellowship. She worked for many years as an editor at Scholastic Magazine
, Literary Cavalcade
, and the publications department of Bank Street College before turning to writing full time. Her first book, Henry, the Hand-Painted Mouse
, was published in 1951 and her last, The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars: A Twelfth-Century Tale from Japan
, in 1992. In between she wrote some thirty books for young readers, including The Pushcart War
(1964), The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars
(1967; forthcoming from The New York Review Children’s Collection), and The Toothpaste Millionaire
Ronni Solbert (b. 1925) was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Vassar and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. As a Fullbright recipient she studied folk and tribal art in India. She has illustrated more than forty children’s books and written and illustrated three of her own. As a painter, sculptor, and photographer she has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad.