Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade: A Thanksgiving Story

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade: A Thanksgiving Story

Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrator:  David C. Gardner 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017   ISBN: 978-1585369607

Every year, on Thanksgiving Morning, there is a parade down Broadway in New York City. The parade is known as the Ragamuffin Parade, and the poor tenement children of the city get to participate. Better still, people give pennies to the children who walk in the parade. For some people, getting a few pennies does not mean that much, but for Rettie, those pennies would be precious.

Rettie lives in a tenement on the Lower East Side with her little sisters, her baby brother, and her mother. Rettie’s father is far away fighting in the war in Europe, and her mother is sick. Rettie does her best to take care of her family. She does all the chores, and she also washes rags for the ragpicker so that she can make some money.

It is November in the year 1918 and now Rettie has a new worry to contend with; influenza is sweeping through the tenements. Rettie worries that they might cancel the Ragamuffin Parade. She needs those pennies to put food on the table. Then she worries that her mother, who is already sick with consumption, might contract influenza. What will happen to the little family then? The thought that she and her siblings might be sent to live in an orphanage terrifies Rettie. She has heard about orphanages and she does not want to end up in one.

This wonderful picture book captures what it was like to live in poverty during a hard time in America’s history. We see how Rettie, who is a child herself, struggles to take care of everyone in her family, and we can only admire her for her courage and her determination.