Flashback Fridays: For the children, they mark, and the children, they know /the place where the sidewalk ends . . .

A world full of wheels where humans are wheel bound from the time they are babes.  Where the landscape is all concrete smoothness without any sort of greenery or beauty.  It’s a bleak and mechanistic place  a place where one girl’s quiet discovery might just spark something amazing.

Do you remember

The Endless Pavement by Jacqueline Jackson and William Perlmutter, illustrated by Richard Cuffari (Seabury Press, 1973)

There’s a clearer image of the cover here at applebybooks.net

Dystopia fiction for kids has been around a lot longer than The Hunger Games, or even The Giver, but seldom do we find a dystopian text for younger readers.  I remember the first time I saw this on the shelf at my library. I was both unnerved and compelled by the cover image.  I had to pick it up and read it.  I’ve never forgotten it, despite the fact I probably only read it once or twice in my life before the copy was likely culled from the shelves.  It’s a world of wheeled contraptions  and humans never get to use their legs in their lives.  What might have once started out as convenience has become an oppressive rule by the wheeled vehicles themselves.  Then a young girl named–I believe–Josette catches sight of a plant growing through a crack in the pavement.   The plant eventually prompts her to do the unthinkable . . . and sparks a rebellion of sorts.

It’s admittedly a strange little science fiction story.  Very brief, with (if I remember correctly) simple black and white drawings like the ones on the cover.  I wish I had some other images to paste into this blog, but there’s nothing online, and I don’t own this one to scan.   I do clearly remember the event of Josette having pulled herself out of her wheeled contraption, pulling herself by her arms across the pavement as her legs are too weak to hold her.  Still, it was a powerful story of machine vs. nature and man vs. machine.

Jacqueline Jackson  has published a few other books for young people, but none of them seem to be of a science fiction or fantasy type (hard to tell since there’s little to no information).  I cannot find any information coauthor William Perlmutter other than his name.  Fortunately, there’s Richard Cuffari.  I I’ve got to tell you, since the images are what  I remember best from this book, I’m glad to find out more about him.   Richard Cuffari illustrated over 200 books in his lifetime, starting his career as a children’s book illustrator in 1966.  Prior to his death in 1978, Richard Cuffari  was awarded the Society of Illustrators’ Citation of Merit and the Christopher Award.    Scanning the books in the list he’s had a hand in, you might recognize a few:

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, illustrated by Richard Cuffari (Houghton Mifflon Harcourt, c1971)

The Perilous Gard is still in print and hopefully can be found on library shelves easily.  It’s a marvelous book and thinking back to when I read it, the drawings throughout the work were striking.  Cuffari worked with a heck of a range of children’s authors in the time he worked as an illustrator. One of his notable partnerships for the sake of this blog was with Sylvia Engdahl, a children’s and YA author of science fiction.  Works include This Star Shall Abide (c1971)The Far Side of Evil (c1971), and Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains (c1973).

Links:

Daughter Number Three on blogspot has an entire post on Cuffari that features more of his middle grade  covers and books.   I’ve been noting lately that while it’s possible much of the time to track what illustrations an artist has done within a book, it’s fairly difficult to come up with a full list of covers they’ve done.

I’m also including a link to the entire text of Shel Silverstein’s poem Where the Sidewalk Ends.  This is one of those poems that people should read every few years . . . I swear it means entirely different things to me now than it did then.  I pulled my title quote from this poem today, but reading the entire poem made me realize that the whole of it meshes with The Endless Pavement in ways I didn’t anticipate.  Don’t know if it will for you, but enjoy!

Have you read the Endless Pavement?  Comments Welcome!

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on September 13, 2013, in Flashback Fridays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’d never heard of it before–it sounds rather haunting!

  2. I read this in the library at my elementary school in the mid 70’s, and it stayed with me all these years. Must have been pretty good, because I ended up reading lots of science fiction from then on.

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