The Pushcart War is a little book of metafictional genius--a deadpan journalistic take on a "war" between puschcart peddlers and truck drivers in New York City glorifies the beauty of small mischiefs and peaceful resistance in overcoming powerful bullies. Fun and silly and simultaneously deadly serious, Merrill's novel provides readers with a creative blueprint for social justice that is just as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.— Hannah DeCamp
"The best book about politics ever written for children." —The Washington Post
50th Anniversary Edition, now in paperback
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 more than 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.
Jean Merrill (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; available from The New York Review Children’s Collection), and The Toothpaste Millionaire (1977).
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.