GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNER – 1967
by Charles Keeping
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967
Age: 4 +
Interests: birds, cities, London
Charley and Charlotte are best friends and spend a lot of time together on Paradise Street in London. However their street soon begins to change – high-rise development is causing the colourful market stalls to move away. When Charlotte moves into one of those apartment buildings, the friends are separated, and Charley doesn’t even know where she lives now. Lonely, Charley decides to buy a beautiful canary from the last market stall on the street. He works at several odd jobs, until finally he is able to buy the golden bird. One day as he is cleaning the cage a cat startles the bird, and it flies away. Charley runs in pursuit, only to see the bird fly up, up, right to Charlotte on her apartment balcony. The friends are reunited.
A gorgeously illustrated story about friends divided, and about a changing city. It depicts the passing away of old London: the blacksmith, the market bird-seller, the scrapdealer who pays Charley for papers, bottles, rags and scrap metal. And without preaching, it shows how helpless children can be when their lives are disrupted by an environment in transition.
Then, one day, everything changed. Workmen came to tear down the old houses of Paradise Street – and No. 1, Charlotte’s house, was the first to go.
… Charley also felt lonely and miserable. He was not even sure where Charlotte now lived. All the new buildings looked alike.
… Paradise Street was slowly turning into a muddle of bricks, rubble and ruins. Soon only the bird-stall remained.
Times change, however, and children adapt. Once he has found Charlotte, thanks to the bird, Charley is able to visit her every day and they play happily together on her balcony high above Paradise Street.