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Tomas Takes Charge
Tomas Takes Charge
Author: Charlene Joy Talbot
ISBN: 95258
Publication Date: 1966
Pages: 191
Rating:
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3

4.2 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Young America Book Club
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed Tomas Takes Charge on + 3 more book reviews
This is one of the better childrens' books out there, but keep in mind it has its limitations. It is a fairy-tale story of its time, written in the late 1960s/early 1970s, when the Meatpacking District on Manhattan's lower West Side was a place with rented apartments where laborers and their families (in this case, Puerto Rican immigrants)could actually afford to live, and vacant apartments and buildings where people could potentially live as squatters unnoticed. It is a tale of two extraordinarily lucky children, Thomas and his older sister Fernanda, who go into hiding in this fashion (a later paperback reprinting of this story is called "Children In Hiding") when their father leaves them and doesn't come back. (Kids, don't be getting ideas about doing this, because it just isn't possible nowadays.) Though the Law of Attraction isn't overtly mentioned in the book, the children amazingly find things in the trash that they need to survive on their own, and even, in one instance, things to decorate the apartment and enhance their lives. As the title implies, it is Tomas, the pre-teen boy who "takes charge", coming up with this plan and sustaining their subsequent short-lived squatting existence by daily excursions in which he is scavenging from edible but rejected food thrown out by the former Washington Market, earning money babysitting, looking for dimes from coin returns on pay phones, and coming into some other work posing for a childrens' book illustrator he accidentally discovers living in the area. It is because of those connections with the adult world on Tomas's part, that when he twists his ankle and can no longer go on his daily rounds, he is missed, and an investigation and the involvement of child services "Welfare", ensues with the childrens' hidden home being found. Though Tomas's sister Fernanda is older, and in a passive role in which Tomas "takes care" of her, the book is saved from even more extreme sexism than was prevalent during the time period in which it was written by virtue of the fact that part of the reason for Fernanda's behavior is cultural, "girls in Puerto Rico weren't expected to go to school", and it was considered normal if not desirable for her to just stay at home. Additionally, she suffered from a larger problem than merely misguided application of the culture of "the old country" to her, when Tomas met a psychiatrist, it was discovered that Fernanda was agoraphobic, and part of the "happy ending" which ensues is the offer of psychiatric help to help her overcome this issue and hopefully become less dependent on Tomas and others.


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