Dave at Night

by Gail Carson Levine

Because he has a reputation as a rascal and a troublemaker, none of Dave’s... read more

Because he has a reputation as a rascal and a troublemaker, none of Dave’s relatives are willing to take him in after his father dies suddenly when Dave is just eleven years old. He ends up at the Hebrew Home for Boys in Upper Manhattan, a bleak orphanage with little heat, bad food, and an exceptionally malicious Superintendant whom the boys call “Mr. Doom.” But there are other things about the HHB that Dave soon grows to love: his eccentric art teacher, Mr. Hillinger, who tells Dave he has “a gift” and, most especially, his age mates, “The Elevens,” who call each other “buddy.” They are instrumental in helping Dave lead his double life, as he sneaks out at night to be with an elderly gentleman, Solly, who makes his living by telling fortunes. Pretending to be Solly’s grandson, Dave frequently accompanies him to extravagant parties in Harlem where he mingles with some of the greatest artists of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes and Aaron Douglas, a painter Dave recognizes as a kindred spirit. This fast-paced novel set in New York City in 1926 is based in part on the author’s own father’s experiences growing up in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Irrepressible Dave embodies all of the novel’s appealing characteristics: humor, action, quirky characters, and an intense longing for a place to belong. (Ages 9-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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